List of place names in Canada of Aboriginal origin

This list of place names in Canada of Aboriginal origin contains Canadian places whose names originate from the words of the First Nations, Métis, or Inuit, collectively referred to as Aboriginal peoples in Canada. When possible the original word or phrase used by Aboriginals is included, along with its generally believed meaning.

The name Canada comes from the word meaning "village" or "settlement" in the Saint-Lawrence Iroquoian; language spoken by the inhabitants of Stadacona and the neighbouring region near present-day Quebec City in the 16th century. Another contemporary meaning was "land." Jacques Cartier was first to use the word "Canada" to refer not only to the village of Stadacona, but also to the neighbouring region and to the Saint-Lawrence River.

In other Iroquoian languages, the words for "town" or "village" are similar: the Mohawk use kaná:ta’, the Seneca iennekanandaa, and the Onondaga use ganataje.

Provinces and territories


British Columbia

For the scores of BC placenames from the Chinook Jargon, see List of Chinook Jargon placenames.



  • Cariboo: from Micmac xalibu via French cariboeuf or carfboeuf: "pawer" or "scratcher". A mountain subspecies of caribou were once numerous in the Cariboo.
  • Carmanah Creek, Carmanah Valley, Carmanah Point: "thus far upstream" in the Nitinaht dialect of Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth).
  • Cassiar: a remote adaptation of Kaska, definition debatable, but possibly "old moccasins".
  • Caycuse River: from the Nitinaht dialect of Nootka, meaning "place where they fix up canoes".
  • Cayoosh Creek: Cayoosh is a Lillooet-area variant of cayuse, originally from the Spanish caballo - "horse", although in Lillooet and the Chilcotin this word specifies a particular breed of Indian mountain pony. There are two versions of the name's meaning. In one account, someone's pony dropped dead in or at the creek after an arduous journey over the pass at the head of its valley. In the other, the crest of standing waves in the rushing waters of the creek are said to resemble bucking horses and their manes.
  • Celista, British Columbia: from the Secwepemc chiefly and family name Celesta, common in the nearby community of Neskonlith near Chase.
  • Chaba Peak: from the Stoney language word for "beaver".
  • Chantslar Lake: from the Chilcotin language word for "steelhead lake"
  • Cheakamus River: Squamish language for "salmon weir place".
  • Cheam: Halqemeylem for "(place to) always get strawberries". The Halqemeylem term refers to an island across from the present-day reserve and village. This name is used in English for Mount Cheam (Cheam Peak), the most prominent of the Four Sisters Range east of Chilliwack, which in Halqemeylem is called Thleethleq (the name of Mount Baker's wife, turned to stone).
  • Checleset Bay: from the Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth) word for "people of cut on the beach".
  • Cheewat River: from the Nitinaht dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth for "having an island nearby".
  • Cheekye River and the locality of Cheekye near Squamish: Squamish language name for Mount Garibaldi, meaning "dirty place" in reference to that mountain's ash-stained snows
  • Chehalis and Chehalis River: probable meanings vary from "the place one reaches after ascending the rapids" or "where the 'chest' of a canoe grounds on a sandbar'. The sandbar or rapids in question would be the old "riffles" of the Harrison River where it empties into the Fraser River out of Harrison Bay (the riffles were dredged out in gold rush times)
  • Chemainus: Named after the native shaman and prophet Tsa-meeun-is, which means "Broken Chest" or "bitten breast"(Halkemeylem language), a reference to the bitemarks possible during a shamanic frenzy, which the local horseshoe-shaped bay is thought to have resembled.
  • Cheslatta Lake: "top of small mountain" or "small rock mountain at east side" in the Carrier language
  • Chezacut: "birds without feathers" in the Chilcotin language.
  • Chic Chic Bay: Tshik-tshik, under various spellings, is the Chinook Jargon for a wagon or wheeled vehicle.
  • Chikamin Range: Chickamin, as usually spelled, is "metal" or "ore" in the Chinook Jargon, often meaning simply "gold"
  • Chilako River: "beaver hand river" in the Carrier language
  • Chilanko River: "many beaver river" in the Chilcotin language
  • Chilcotin River: "ochre river people" in the Chilcotin language
  • Chilkat Pass: "salmon storehouse" in the Tlingit language
  • Chilko River: "ochre river" in the Chilcotin language
  • Chilliwack: "Going back up" in Halqemeylem. Other translations are "quieter water on the head" or "travel by way of a backwater of slough", all a reference to the broad marshlands and sloughs of the Chilliwack area, which lies between the Fraser River's many side-channels and Sumas Prairie (much of formerly Sumas Lake). Older spellings are Chilliwhack, Chilliwayhook, Chil-whey-uk, Chilwayook, and Silawack.
  • Chinook Cove: on the North Thompson River, a reference to the Chinook salmon rather than to the language, wind or people of the same name.
  • Choelquoit Lake: "fishtrap lake" in the Chilcotin language
  • Chonat Bay: "where coho salmon are found" in Kwak'wala
  • Chu Chua: the plural of the Secwepemc language word for "creek".
  • Chuckwalla River: "short river" in Oowekyala. The nearby Kilbella River means "long river".
  • Chutine River: "half-people" in either the Tlinkit or Tahltan languages. The area's population was half-Tlingit and half-Tahltan.
  • Cinnemousun Narrows Provincial Park: From the Secwepemc language cium-moust-un, meaning "come and go back again", sometimes translated as "the bend" (i.e. in Shuswap Lake)
  • Clayoquot Sound: an adaption of the Nuu-chah-nulth language Tla-o-qui-aht, which has a variety of translations: "other or different people", "other or strange house", "people who are different from what they used to be"; in Nitinaht the phrase translates as "people of the place where it becomes the same even when disturbed".
  • Clo-oose: "campsite beach" in the Nitinaht dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth
  • Clusko River: "mud river" in the Chilcotin language
  • Cluxewe River: "delta or sand bar" in Kwak'wala
  • Coglistiko River: "stream coming from small jack-pine windfalls" in the Carrier language
  • Colquitz River: "waterfall" in North Straits Salish
  • Comiaken: "bare, devoid of vegetation" in Hunquminum
  • Comox: either from the Chinook Jargon for "dog" (kamuks), or from the Kwak'wala for "place of plenty".
  • Conuma Peak: "high, rocky peak" in the Nuu-chah-nulth language
  • Coqualeetza: "place of beating of blankets (to get them clean)" in Halkomelem
  • Coquihalla River: "stingy container" (of fish), a reference to black-coloured water spirits who would steal fish right off the spear
  • Coquitlam: "Small red salmon" in Salish. Derived from the name of the local branch of the Sto:lo people Khwayquitlam. Another and more usual translation is "stinking of fish slime" and "place of stinking fish".
  • Cowichan: from Quwutsun, "land warmed by the sun" or "warm country" (Hunquminum)
  • Cultus: "bad, of no value, worthless" in Chinook jargon. In First Nations legend, this popular recreational lake south of Chilliwack was said to be inhabited by evil spirits.
  • Cumshewa Inlet, Cunshewa Head: Cumshewa was a prominent Haida chief in the late 19th Century, noted for the killing of the crew of the US trading vessel Constitution in 1794. His name means "rich at the mouth" (of the river)".



  • Kamloops: English translation of Shuswap word Tk'emlups, meaning "where the rivers meet".
  • Kelowna: "Grizzly bear" in the Okanagan language.
  • Keremeos
  • Kootenay: derived from the proper name of the Kootenay people, Ktunaxa
  • Lillooet: adapted from the proper name for the Lower St'at'imc people, the Lil'wat of Mt. Currie. Lil'wat means "wild onions". The old name of Lillooet was Cayoosh Flat (1858-1860), derived from the name of one of the streams converging into the Fraser at the town (cayoosh is the local variant of Chinook Jargon for "horse" or "Indian pony").




  • Saanich:
  • Sechelt: the town is named after the First Nations people who live in the area, the Shishalh
  • Shalalth: "the lake" in the St'at'imcets language of the Lillooet people
  • Sicamous
  • Skaha Lake: from the Okanagan language word for "dog" (sqexe)
  • Skidegate
  • Skookumchuck: "strong (skookum) ocean/water (chuck); that is: strong tide, strong ocean current, rapids" in Chinook jargon (three different locations - Sechelt Inlet, Lillooet River, Columbia River/East Kootenay).
  • Similkameen:
  • Sooke: named after the T'Souke First Nation people who live in the area
  • Spallumcheen
  • Spuzzum, from the local variant of the Chinook Jargon spatsum, a reed used in basketry
  • Squamish: The town is named after the First Nations people who live in the area
  • Stein River: Adjacent to Lytton BC, "Stein" is an adaptation of the Nlaka'pamux (Thompson) staygn - "hidden place".




New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia

Northwest Territories









See also

Search another word or see beeteon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature