Geographical Names

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Place names, also called geographical names, or toponyms, are the names we use to refer to the places and geographical features around us.  They appear on maps and road signs, and we use them every day to give directions or describe where we are.  Canada’s naming authority is the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC).  The GNBC Secretariat is located at Natural Resources Canada.

GNBC | CGNDB Content

Indigenous Place Names in Canada

Learn how Indigenous place names help to preserve, revitalize and strengthen Indigenous languages and cultures.

Querying Canadian Geographical names

Canada’s official names are stored in the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB).  The online query tool on our website provides many ways to search for a current or former official name.  You can query by name or by geographical coordinates.  You can also search for a name by its unique five letter alphabetical code which is linked to a name record, or by rectangular area (bounding box).  You can also select a name from an alphabetical list of all the available names. 

Query by Name | Query by Coordinates |
Query by Unique Code | Query by Rectangular Area | Query by Alphabetical List

Products and Services

We provide a number of products and services related to geographical names.  You can use our site to access geographical names data, to use web services, to find out about publications, or to view a list of our data providers.

Tools and Applications | Publications | Download Names Data

Educational Resources

There are a number of resources available on our site to help you learn more about geographical names.  Click on the links below to find out more about why some Canadian places were named.  You can also learn what an oxbow or a pingo is.  Translators will find some useful references, and there are links to other sites with information about geographical names.  You can also learn how to propose a new name or a name change. 

Selected Origins of Canadian geographical names | Interesting and curious generic terms | Information for translators | Canadian Society for the Study of Names | How do I propose a new name, or name change?