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About geographic names

Geographic names help us describe our surroundings and identify historic, cultural and natural features on the landscape.

They are essential for:

  • mapping
  • emergency response
  • resource management
  • conservation
  • travel and tourism
  • law enforcement
  • environmental planning

How it works

In Ontario, we have the Ontario Geographic Names Board.

The Board:

  • reviews applications for new names for unincorporated places (e.g., villages, hamlets) and geographic features (e.g., lakes, rivers, hills, valleys)
  • submits recommended geographic feature names to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry for approval in accordance with the Ontario Geographic Names Board Act

When recommending names, the Board:

  • follows the principles and procedures it has put in place
  • confirms that names are used and supported by the community

A spatial database of official geographic feature and unincorporated place names (in English, French and First Nation languages) is maintained by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

View recent naming decisions

How to request a name

Step 1: Read our naming principles.

Applicants should note:

  • requests that do not comply with the principles will not be considered
  • the Board primarily considers the local usage of a name
  • commemorative names are reserved for those who made an outstanding contribution to a local area, Ontario or Canada
  • land ownership on its own does not warrant changing a well-established name
  • the Board does not support commemorative names for living persons
  • the Board does not endorse naming contests or competitions and will not accept the results of these activities

Step 2: Send an email to geographicnames@ontario.ca to request a submission form.

Don’t forget to attach relevant documentation that will support your name request. Your submission will be reviewed by the Board for potential approval. This process can take up to 12 months.

For more information

The Ontario Geographic Names Board
Mapping and Information Resources Branch
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
2nd Floor North
300 Water Street
Peterborough ON K9J 8M5

Tel: 705-761-6859
Fax: 705-755-2149
E-mail: geographicnames@ontario.ca

Updated: September 16, 2021
Published: May 23, 2014