Geographers have an unusual sense of humor that they like to slip it into official online publications. Previously I reviewed an instance of that provided by the government of Australia. Now I would like to focus on Canada.
Natural Resources Canada is a government organization that maintains a database of Canadian geographical names as part of its official duties. That’s a useful and worthwhile tool to provide to its citizens and to those in the larger community worldwide. That’s hardly unusual though. Many other countries provide a similar service.
What’s a little more difficult to find, however, is the GeoNames Trivia page placed somewhat more obscurely within the website by its Mapping Services Branch. Luckily I’ve scoured the site and done the groundwork for you. All you have to do is follow the link.
It’s a simple page that features the "Longest Place Names in Canada." along with a couple of other topics. I’m not sure why this particular facet captivated me other than it’s so amazingly trivial and useless. My wife calls me the Master of Worthless Trivia and I happily agree. I latch onto knowledge so obscure that it wouldn’t even qualify for a game of Jeopardy. It shouldn’t be too surprising then that this page carried me along on a journey that delved into a few of the particularly long Canadian place names. I didn’t have time to research them all but I did examine the Top 3.
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The third longest place name in Canada is a geographical area in Québec that stretches out to 58 characters, and translates to "The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Nazareth."
There was a church of the same name within the larger Rimouski, Québec, so it’s conceivable that the surrounding area probably took its name from the parish. The church was dissolved and annexed into another parish in 2007. It’s a nice looking structure and was offered for sale as of January 2008 if anyone is interested. My French is lousy but that’s what I gleaned from this automatic translation. It’s not clear to me that the geographic designation will continue without the church but I’ll leave that to the Geographical Names Board of Canada to decide.
Something even more trivial, Rimouski is a mere 63 kilometres northeast of Trois-Pistoles, which also shares its name with an award-winning beverage produced by the fantastic Unibroue brewery located outside Montréal. Just compare this photo to this beer label. Yes, I do believe we have a match.
Let’s move on if you’ve had your fill of churches in French-speaking Canada.
Cape St. George-Petit Jardin-Grand Jardin-De Grau-Marches Point-Loretto
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Again with the French, but this time within the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The name extends for 65 characters excluding blank spaces and represents the name of a community along the southwestern coast of Newfoundland. The translators aren’t working so well on this one, so something about capes, points, little gardens, big gardens and such. I really should have paid more attention during that ninth-grade French class. I was young and bored and really offer no other excuse. Maybe someone on the Intertubes can help me out.
Looking at the map, it seems like they decided to expend a whole lot of effort simply listing every little town east of Cape St. George and combined them all into one humongous name like one of the villages would have been offended had it been excluded or something. Maybe they could simplify things by calling the entirety "Bob" or something.
This is a rugged area marked by roiling tides and weathered cliffs that the residents call le bout du monde ("the end of the world") according to the Unofficial Town of Cape St. George website.
Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde
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The Canadian grand champion of long place names is Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde, a Township Municipality in Ontario. This name stretches out to 68 characters excluding spaces. I love how they deal with the situation. Check out their domain name: dysartetal.ca! As they explain on their website, "Our official name is the Corporation of the United Townships of Dysart, Dudley, Harcourt, Guilford, Harburn, Bruton, Havelock, Eyre and Clyde; however we are known as the Municipality of Dysart et al." Not quite "Bob" but close.
Tourism and forestry are big deals here, as is the production of maple syrup. The Haliburton Highlands are located within the township, and provide a popular vacation destination for Toronto residents just a two and a half hour drive away.