Guiding Principles

The YGPNB bases its decisions on whether to recommend or rescind a particular place name to the Minister of Tourism and Culture on a number of principles and procedures first established by the Geographic Names Board of Canada

  • First priority shall be given to names with long-standing local usage by the general public, particularly indigenous names in the local native language.
  • The Board has no jurisdiction over the names of municipalities, transportation corridors (highways and bridges), parks, territorial division, and other legal bodies that have been created by, or result from, legislation.
  • Names for rivers, lakes, creeks, and other physical features should be used for all parts of the feature. In other words, you would not call the Yukon River one name at Whitehorse and another name at Dawson.
  • Proposals to name a place or geographical feature after a specific person should show how the person to be commemorated has contributed significantly to the area where the feature is located. In most cases, personal names are given to geographical features only after a person’s death.
  • When proposing names for unnamed features—those for which no local names exist—preference will be given to names from native languages, names that describe the feature, names associated with historical events, and names of people who have made an important contribution to the area where the name is proposed.
  • Geographical names should be recognizable words or acceptable combinations of words, and should be in good taste. Names that are discriminatory or derogatory from the point of view of race, sex, colour, creed, or political affiliation are not accepted.
  • The spelling and accenting of names should agree with the rules of the language in which they are written.

The Board is bound by a federal, provincial/territorial agreement which provides that applications to name or re-name geographical features in national parks will not be made unilaterally. This agreement also specifies that when geographical features are wholly or partly located within a national park, names and name change proposals are to be referred through the Geographical Names Board of Canada who will consult with the appropriate federal, provincial or territorial organization or agency responsible for place names in that jurisdiction.