In this, the first wide-ranging review of Ontario's physical and cultural place names, Alan Rayburn has selected 2,285 from the province's 57,000 official toponyms including all 815 municipalities, as well as unincorporated places with populations exceeding 75, and a large selection of the more prominent lakes, rivers, islands, points, hills, mountains, and highways.
Rayburn sets the record straight on the origin of many names including that of Toronto, which does not mean 'place of meeting, ' but reflects the transfer of the Mohawk description of fish weirs in The Narrows between Lake Simcoe and Lake Couchiching.
He points out that Kitchener would still be Berlin but for the First World War, and Fort William and Port Arthur might have become Lakehead in 1970 if the ballot had not been rigged in favour of Thunder Bay.
Rayburn also deals with an impressive array of names of Aboriginal origin including Niagara, Muskoka, Penetanguishene, Temagami, Nipigon, Oshawa, and Wawa. He explains that Batawa does not fall into this category: it would be a case of 'putting the shoe on the wrong foot' as Rayburn expresses it. Diplomatically he reveals the correct origin of Bastard Township.
An informative and entertaining overview of the mosaic of Ontario's toponymy, Place Names ofOntario will rank among the finest of North American place name studies and will appeal to academic and general readers alike.