50 Funny Canadian Place Names
Some town names in Canada are as quirky as the country is wide! From British Columbia to Newfoundland, we did the digging to figure out the stories behind these funny Canadian place names.
This community was christened after everyone’s favourite military acronym—Situation Normal: All Fouled Up—by the U.S. military while they were building the Alaska highway. We’re not sure exactly what situation the military was referring to at the time, but Snafu served as one of two forest fire crew camps in the Yukon in the ’50s. It’s now a campground surrounded by lakes and a popular destination for canoe trips.
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Youbou, British Columbia
This town owes its name to the founders of its mill, Mr. Yount and Mr. Bounton, who combined the first halves of their respective surnames to make Youbou in 1914. Today, it’s the second largest community on Vancouver Island’s scenic Cowichan Lake.
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Stoner, British Columbia
Which came first: Stoner or Stone Creek? Locals reportedly use the latter, with “Stoner” presumably a modern-day derivative. Either way, if you’re driving north on Highway 97 to Prince George, keep your eye out for this quiet community and its infamous town sign.
Salmon Arm, British Columbia
The imagery is like something out of a strange dream, but Salmon Arm actually refers to the huge concentration of salmon that used to found in the southwest arm of B.C.’s Shuswap Lake. The salmon may not swarm there anymore, but these days the city has another claim to fame: boasting the world’s largest treble clef (it stands more than 13 metres tall)!
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Old Entrance, Alberta
This railway community was initially going to be called Heda, but once the train station was built, early residents ended up calling it Entrance—likely because it sat at the entrance to the Jasper Forest Reserve. When a second railway station nearby was renamed Entrance, the original station became known as Old Entrance. Today, the station has been transformed into a bed and breakfast: trains may not be passing through any more, but it’s still a perfect stopover for tourists en route to the Rocky Mountains.
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Dead Man’s Flats, Alberta
There are at least two potential origins for this striking name. Some trace it back to a murder at a Bow River dairy farm in 1904. Others believe the name comes from a Nakoda man who was hunting beaver in the area and pretended to be dead to avoid getting caught. Today, the community is a popular destination for trout fishing and a short drive from Banff National Park.
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Founded in 1914, Legal owes its name to Emile Legal, the bishop of St. Albert, Alberta. The bilingual 1,500-person town was settled mostly by homesteaders from Quebec and is now renowned for its public murals. With more than 30 murals on display across town, Legal earned the distinction of being named “French Mural Capital of the World” in 2011.
Long before Star Trek, Vulcan was a Roman God of Fire. That’s the reference that a Canadian Pacific Railway surveyor intended when he named the town back in the early 1900s. These days, Vulcan has fully embraced its inevitable sci-fi connection, boasting a replica of the starship Enterprise and a bust of Spock himself. There’s also an annual Star Trek convention, the appropriately titled Vul-Con.
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Stop the press! This hamlet was named after The Daily Mirror, a London-based tabloid. Back in the early 1900s, the town was a booming rail hub: Charles Melville Hays, president of the Grand Trunk Railway, estimated that Mirror’s population would one day swell to a staggering 500,000. His ambitions perished along with him onboard the Titanic, but 500 people continue to live happily in the hamlet of Mirror today.
Founded in 1905 in preparation for the arrival of the railroad, Bawlf was named after Nicholas Bawlf, president of the Winnipeg Grain Exchange. Today, it’s a tight-knit village with a population of 422 people.
Don’t be misled by the Russian name—this village of 200 is an Alberta ranching town through and through, surrounded by farmland and feed yards. The community celebrated its centenary in 2017 with an old-fashioned town picnic and “Bullarama” rodeo.
The full name for this community is the Rural Municipality of Happyland no. 231, which, of course, begs the question: where are the other 230? The community supposedly got its name from an early resident who was very pleased to be there.
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This Saskatchewan village was settled by Christ Fugelstad, an immigrant from Climax, Minnesota, who was apparently either terribly homesick or terribly unimaginative. (In case you were wondering, the original Climax owed its curious name to a chewing tobacco company.) Today, Climax has a small but thriving population of 195, and belongs to the equally memorably named Rural Municipality of Lone Tree No. 18.
Legend has it, this community is named after a nearby hill in the shape of a parabola—or, if you’re more imaginatively inclined, an eyebrow. With a population just over 100 clustered around a soaring grain elevator, Eyebrow claims to be the “perfect little town on the prairies.” If that raises an, erm… Eyebrow, check out the positively charming images on the town’s website.
Born in Ashton-under-Lyne, England, in 1843, Charles Drinkwater was the first corporate secretary of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, and the namesake for this Saskatchewan village. The name was particularly fitting given that the community was established so that CPR trains could stop for water near the Moose Jaw river.
Named after homesteader Conrad Paquin, Radville is a proud prairie town. So proud, in fact, its residents—Radvillites—even refer to themselves as “diehard flatlanders.” This devotion dates back to the early days of the settlement, when one of the first acts of the town’s founders was to have the pesky hill on Main Street levelled off. Now, Radville is a flat oasis, where the views extend for miles.
Popular lore would have you believe that young people used to stroll through the streets of Love holding hands, but this funny Canadian town name actually comes from Tom Love, the conductor on the first train to pass through these parts. The village is known internationally for its postmark of a teddy bear holding a heart and is a popular destination for couples looking to tie the knot. In fact, to keep up with demand, the town is currently fundraising to build a local wedding chapel.
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If you remember the first Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, you’ll know where this tiny Saskatchewan village got its name. Amédée E. Forget was born in Marieville, Quebec, in 1847, but as the Queen’s representative of this prairie province, he was a natural namesake for this Francophone town. The unforgettable community is small but still going strong: as of 2016 the population numbered 55—a 57 per cent increase from 2011!
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This Manitoba-Saskatchewan border town was originally called Consul. Trouble was, there was another village nearby called Council, and the mail kept getting mixed up. The town was suitably renamed in honour of its fertile farming land, though the name hasn’t helped the population much: Fertile currently has zero year-round residents.
Flin Flon, Manitoba
When naming this Manitoba city, prospector Thomas Creighton was inspired by a dime-store sci-fi book he’d read, “The Sunless City” by J.E. Preston-Muddock, which featured a protagonist by the name of Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin. Suffice it to say, Flin Flon remains the only city in Canada to be named after a science fiction character. A statue has even been erected in honour of the city’s namesake—he stands at the entrance to the town, and locals call him Flinty.
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Emo may have a population of just 1,300, but that’s nothing to get depressed about—in fact, it’s the fastest growing community in Northwestern Ontario’s Rainy River District. It was named by homesteader Alexander Luttrell after the town of Emo in Ireland, which translates from Gaelic as “edge of the plain.”
Pain Court, Ontario
This funny Canadian town name only has dark undertones if you’re assuming it has English roots. Established in 1854 and residing today in the municipality of Chatham-Kent, Pain Court is a bilingual community that’s proud of its Franco-Ontarian heritage—the name translates from French to English as “short bread.”
Punkeydoodles Corners, Ontario
The best-known story of how this Oxford County hamlet got its name is that a local innkeeper would sing “Yankee Doodle” to his patrons, but they all misheard the lyrics. Whether or not there’s any truth to that tale, it comes as no surprise the community’s sign is often stolen.
Sans Souci, Ontario
A good place to visit if you’re feeling stressed out, “sans souci” translates from French as “without worries.” The origin of the name is unclear, but it’s no stretch to assume it was named after the region’s breathtakingly beautiful Georgian Bay landscapes. Fittingly, the community is now a popular cottaging destination in the Archipelago township where city dwellers go to get rid of their worries, if only for a weekend.
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You might assume this name refers to the town’s size, but Tiny is actually named after a pet dog that belonged to Lady Sarah Maitland, who was married to a 19th century Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. Lady Sarah was apparently a big fan of her pups—she named two other towns after them as well, Tay and Flos, which now form the Springwater Township.
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Eugene Smith, who left his home of Ireland for Barrie, Ont., in 1830, named this hamlet after Thomas Moore’s classic novel, Utopia. Today, the community is home to 100 residents and the Utopia Conservation Area, 50 acres of land where the town’s century-old gristmill can be found.
Settler John Morrow gave this hamlet the name Purpleville to emphasize its connection to the nearby Orangeville, where Morrow owned a farm. The hub of this small community was its post office, which closed in 1931. According to the City of Vaughan, the last postmaster, Mrs. Jane Stump, remodelled the office into a home where her granddaughter still lives.
Nineteenth-century settlers James Leigh and John Jennings named Pontypool after a town in their homeland of Wales. In the mid-20th century, it became a popular destination for Jewish families beating a retreat from sweltering Toronto summers. Today, the town is best-known for its thriving Christmas tree farms.
Founded on mining rather than cheese production, this ghost town in Ontario’s Haliburton County was named after a village in England. Following its heyday in the ’30s and ’40s, Cheddar emptied out, as Haliburton took off as a popular cottaging destination and the roads began to bypass Cheddar. Now it’s nearly been swallowed by the forest that surrounds it—save for one lone boarding house.
Crotch Lake, Ontario
This slightly awkward but apt name comes from the fact that the lake has two narrows, and the point where they meet resembles the crotch of a stick. The name certainly shouldn’t deter potential visitors—the beautiful lake is home to 77 campsites and is part of the canoe route through the Mississippi River.
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Irish settlers originally named this municipality the Parish of St. Malachy, after a 12th century Archbishop. The name was changed to Mayo in 1954, inspired not by the condiment, but the county of Mayo in Northern Ireland. Today, the town is home to Foret-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve, an old-growth forest beloved by nature photographers and bird watchers.
Given that this town of 7,000 was once home to a vast asbestos mine, the source of its name is no mystery. The mine hasn’t been active since 2012, though, and in 2020 the town announced a formal decision to (eventually) change the name, as the association is a deterrent to potential economic partners.
Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec
Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!—apparently the only town in the world with two exclamation points in its name—sits at the top of the Témiscouata valley. Some believe that the exclamatory portion of the town’s name comes from the sound that newcomers would make upon seeing the valley’s shining lake for the first time: ha! ha! Others say that the name comes from the fact that “haha” was once a synonym for cul-de-sac (a possible reference to Lake Témiscouata presenting an obstacle to roads). Either way, this funny Canadian town name has had visitors chuckling for generations.
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Peekaboo Corner, New Brunswick
A small community within the village of Norton, New Brunswick, Peekaboo Corner owes its name to a poorly-placed house that stood on the corner, blocking the vision of passing drivers. Hopefully the name delivered a cautionary message to future motorists.
Sober Island, Nova Scotia
Some locals claim that this remote island in Nova Scotia was named by British soldiers in the 1700s who landed there with no liquor on their ship. Today the island is known for its oysters, and for the Sober Island Brewing Company, a popular brewery that has brought renewed attention to the island (despite not actually being located there).
Meat Cove, Nova Scotia
No word on what the burgers are like here, but Nova Scotia’s Meat Cove is well-known for its seafood chowder. The name is rumoured to come from the fact that hunters used to use the area to dress animal carcasses. Today it’s home to a popular campground, surrounded by picturesque cliffs and boasting spectacular whale-watching opportunities.
Cardigan, Prince Edward Island
One of the oldest communities in eastern P.E.I., Cardigan takes its name from the Earl of Cardigan, a British lord who eventually became Prince of Wales. No word on the sweater of choice for its residents, but this former shipbuilding town is now home to Canada’s smallest lending library.
Crapaud, Prince Edward Island
One of the first villages incorporated in P.E.I., Crapaud is a popular stop-over for travellers on the Trans-Canada Highway. It was named after the spring peeper frog, renowned for its loud chirp—crapaud, after all, is French for toad.
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Jerrys Nose, Newfoundland and Labrador
The story behind this curiously named fishing community is two-fold: firstly, the cove in which it’s set is shaped somewhat like a nose. Secondly, locals tell of a fisherman named Jerry who, while carrying his boat over the coast, was caught by a gust of wind and blown down a hill, busting up his nose in the process. It’s been called Jerrys Nose ever since—without the apostrophe, for reasons unknown.
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Blow Me Down, Newfoundland and Labrador
Blow Me Down Provincial Park gets its name from the fierce winds which blow across its mountaintops and down into its valley, terrorizing anyone out on the water. The park doesn’t have a monopoly on this moniker, however: over the years, there have been no fewer than 17 different communities in Newfoundland with this name. (Better pack your windbreaker!)
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Cow Head, Newfoundland and Labrador
This town is located in Gros Morne, one of Canada’s most stunning national parks. Originally a fishing and shipping town, it’s now home to the Gros Morne Theatre Festival, the Cow Head Lobster Festival, and many more attractions. The name supposedly comes from a sailor who saw a large rock from the sea and thought it resembled, well… A cow’s head.
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Garnish, Newfoundland and Labrador
This old shipbuilding town is nestled in the boot of Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula. Apparently, the settlers who came from Garnish Island in County Cork were so stunned by the region’s similarities to their birthplace, they gave it the same name.
Toogood Arm, Newfoundland and Labrador
Too good to be true? It turns out Toogood was likely a surname of early settlers of this coastal community on New World Island off the northeastern coast of Newfoundland. As colourful place names go, it’s in good company, tucked between Green Cove and Pike’s Arm.
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Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador
Placentia was settled by Basque sailors in the 1500s, who named it after a Spanish seaport, Plentzia. The two towns made their 500-year connection official in 2017 by becoming sister cities. Fun fact: During France’s century-long rule in Newfoundland, Plancentia was rechristened “Plaisance,” and served as the capital from 1627 to 1713.
Goobies, Newfoundland and Labrador
Where this Trans-Canada Highway rest-stop got its name isn’t especially clear, but considering “Gooby” was a common last name amongst Newfoundlanders in the 1800s, it’s possible it was christened by two Goobies themselves.
Happy Adventure, Newfoundland and Labrador
Located on Bonavista Bay, Happy Adventure harbour lives up to its name by offering visitors extraordinary whale watching and spelunking opportunities. Though the origins of the name are unclear, some believe it was named after a ship owned by notorious 17th century pirate, Peter Easton.
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Dildo, Newfoundland and Labrador
No one can quite confirm where the most infamous of all funny Canadian town names comes from, but, befitting of Newfoundland’s rich folklore, there are countless colourful stories. Some say it comes from a French word for the island—“ile d’eau”—or a Spanish word for the bottom of a boat. The term has also been known to refer to a pin placed in a rowboat that attaches to the oar. If you visit the picturesque shoreline town, you can always ask its mascot, Captain Dildo, for his take on the tale.
Heart’s Desire, Newfoundland and Labrador
What do you find between Heart’s Delight and Heart’s Content? Heart’s Desire! That might sound like a riddle, but the three scenic towns are indeed huddled together, taking their name from the heart-shaped harbour they share.
Bacon Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador
There are just over 100 people who call Bacon Cove home, and it seems there are as many origin stories for how this small fishing community got its name. Some say it comes from settlers who bribed Peter Easton (the same pirate responsible for Happy Adventure!) with pigs; others say it was originally “Beacon Cove.” Arguably the best explanation, though, is the local legend about a great ship that got caught in a sudden gale, resulting.in its cargo of pigs being swept overboard. The (apparently ravenous) residents were only too eager to help the swimming swine to shore—and into their frying pans. That’s one way of welcoming new arrivals to town!
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