THE QUEEN’S LAND
THE STORIES BEHIND THE NAMES EMBEDDED IN CANADA’S GEOGRAPHY.
Among Manitoba’s one hundred thousand lakes are eight that have one thing in common: Lakes Prince William, Prince Henry, Princess Beatrice, Princess Eugenie, Peter Phillips, Zara Phillips, Princess Louise, and Prince James are all named after Queen Elizabeth II’s eight grandchildren. The grandkids are the most recent generation of royals to have their names added to the map of Canada, following a centuries-old tradition of naming cities and landmarks after royalty.
The earliest explorers named settlements and landmarks in honour of royalty to stake their country’s claim to the territory. Among the first to do so was French explorer Jacques Cartier, who called the hill overlooking the Indigenous village of Hochelaga “Mont Real” (Mount Royal) after his king, Francis I. The name Montreal lasted to include not just the mountain but the city that later emerged. A later French explorer named a lake in present-day Manitoba “Dauphin,” in honour of the heir to the French throne. As Britain and France fought for control of North America, settlements received new royal place names or pronunciations.
Royalty who lived in Canada for a time named places after themselves and their relatives. Crown figures who influenced Canada from afar — such as Prince Rupert and Queen Victoria — also had their names added. And royal weddings, births, tours, and coronations all influenced place names. Here are the stories of a few of the colourful majesties on our map: