Place names can provide valuable insight into a variety of fascinating aspects of geography, history, languages, cultures, and customs of a particular region. Ontario, with its preponderance of place names with connections to the British Isles, differs markedly in place-name characteristics from Canada's other regions, especially those that have been historically imprinted with the French language and culture.
In this, the first wide-ranging survey of Ontario's place names, Alan Rayburn has reviewed 2285, including those of all 815 municipalities, as well as of unincorporated places with populations exceeding 75 and of 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 refers to 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. Diplomatically he reveals the correct origin of Bastard Township. Rayburn also deals with an impressive array of names of aboriginal origin, including Niagara, Muskoka, Penetanguishene, Temagami, Nipigon, Oshawa, and Wawa.
An informative and entertaining overview of the mosaic of Ontario's toponymy, Place Names of Ontario will rank among the finest of North American place name studies and will appeal to academic and general readers alike.