General procedures for making a proposal to approve or change a geographical name

Only in exceptional circumstances does the Board itself initiate naming. Most new names approved by the Board, through the jurisdictions of its provincial, territorial, and federal members, are submitted by the general public and by organizations. Such names should be for specific geographical features.

Individuals or organizations contemplating the publication of geographical names should submit proposals to the provincial or territorial authority. The consideration of new names may require considerable time, particularly when local investigation is required. The publication of unauthorized names will not necessarily result in official recognition.

Descriptive names, local names, and names relating to the history of an area are preferred. Proposers should consider the GNBC principles for naming before making a submission, and then contact the office of the appropriate GNBC member for information on how to submit a proposal in that jurisdiction.

In general, the following information, if available, accompanied by adequate documentation, will facilitate the decision-making process:

  • location by latitude and longitude, specifying map consulted
  • identification on a map indicating precise extent of the feature
  • photographs or sketches
  • reasons for proposal or name change (i.e. why proposal is being made)
  • origin and meaning of name
  • names, addresses and telephone numbers of long-time residents of the area who can verify well-established local usage

When a proposal is received, procedures vary depending on the jurisdiction. A provincial, territorial or federal authority would generally investigate a name by consulting the residents in the area, historical documents and files and other sources. A decision to approve or reject would then be made based on the available information.

Names for geographical features within an area of joint jurisdiction (provincial/territorial and federal) may be submitted in writing to the GNBC Secretariat or to the appropriate jurisdictions.

Inquiries concerning geographical nomenclature in Canada, proposals concerning new names, or changes in the form, spelling or application of existing names may be submitted in writing to the appropriate GNBC member.