Canada’s Place Names and How to Change Them by Lauren Beck a professor of visual and material culture, disentangles the distinct cultural, religious, and historical naming practices and visual emblems in Canada’s First Nations, provinces, territories, municipalities, and federal lands. Starting with a discussion of Indigenous place knowledge and naming practices from several Indigenous and Inuit groups spanning the country, it foregrounds the breadth of possible ways to name places. Lauren Beck then illustrates the naming practices introduced by Europeans and how they misunderstood, mis-rendered, and appropriated Indigenous place names, while scrutinizing the histories of Columbian names, missionary names, and the secular and commemorative names of the last two centuries. She studies key symbols and emblems such as maps, flags, and coats of arms as visual equivalents of place names to show whose identities powerfully inform Canada’s place nomenclature.
The book also documents the policies and authorities that have traditionally governed the creation and modification of names and examines case studies of institutions and communities who have changed their names to demonstrate pathways to change.