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Native Indian Word and Meanings of Places in Canada

It’s incredible how many places in Canada were actually named after Canadian Native Aboriginal Indian words or names. Everything from provinces, cities, towns, rivers, lakes and even the country itself have been named after a Native Indian word with specific meanings.

A partial list of some well known places in Canada and their Native Aboriginal Indian meanings are below.

Athabasca Lake: from the Cree word meaning “where there are reeds”

Canada: from Wendat Huron word meaning “village” or “settlement”

Chilliwack: from Halqemeylem word meaning “going back up”

Coquitlam: from Salish word meaning “small red salmon” or “place of stinking fish”

Etobicoke: from Ojibwa word meaning “the place where the alders grow”

Iqaluit: from Inuktituk word meaning “fish”

Kelowna: from Okanagan word meaning “grizzly bear”

Klondike River: from Han word meaning “hammer used to fix fishing nets”

Manitoulin Island: from Ojibwe word meaning “spirit island”

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Ontario: from Huron word meaning “beautiful lake”

Ottawa: from Algonquin word meaning “to buy”

Penticton: from Okanagan word meaning “place to stay forever”

Quebec: from Algonquin word meaning “narrow passage or strait”

Saskatchewan: from Cree word meaning “swift flowing river”

Saskatoon: from Cree meaning “berry fruit”

Toronto: from Huron word meaning “place of meeting”

Winnipeg: from Cree word meaning “dirty or murky water”

Tuktoyaktuk: from Inuvialuktun word meaning “resembling a caribou”

Of course, there are many other examples. So next time you look at a name of a city, town, village, province, lake, mountain or region, it just might have come from a Native Aboriginal Indian word. A Native Aboriginal Indian tribe living in the region may have very well influenced the name of the place.

For examples in the United States, see Native American Names of Places.

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