We evaluate geographical naming proposals to ensure required standards are met.
The Geographical Names Program also:
- conducts research on the origin of existing names
- collects information about unofficial names (current and historical) that could be considered for adoption as official names in the future
- works with other provincial and federal government departments and agencies to ensure the use of official names
- represents Alberta on the Geographical Names Board of Canada, a national advisory and coordinating body for all of Canada’s geographical naming authorities
What are geographical names?
Geographical names, or toponyms, are labels given to physical and cultural features on the landscape.
These names provide recognizable points of reference, making navigation throughout our landscape possible. Place names are an integral part of our cultural heritage and reveal historical trends, important stories and our evolving societal values.
How to propose or change a name
Any individual or organization can submit a proposal for a new geographical name or change an existing name.
Step 1. Complete an application form
- You provide the required information and reasons for proposing the name.
- We encourage you to read the Geographical Names Manual and to contact to us prior to submitting the application.
Step 2. Evaluating a proposed name
- We conduct additional research on the proposed name and the feature in question and evaluate the proposal to ensure it complies with the “Principles of Geographical Naming listed in the Geographical Names Manual”.
- We contact other provincial and federal programs and departments for their opinion on the proposed name.
- We engage with Indigenous communities near the geographical feature to determine their position on the proposed name and to discover any traditional names or knowledge associated with the geographical feature.
- We consult with the municipality and members of the community where the geographical feature is located to determine their support for the proposed name.
Step 3. Approving a proposed name
- We compile the information from the application and evaluation process into a report for the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation to review.
- The Foundation considers the report and, if in favour, approves the recommendation.
- The Minister consents to the decision made by the Foundation and makes it official.
- If a joint decision is required between provincial jurisdictions, the Secretariat of the Geographical Names Board of Canada can serve as a liaison between Alberta and the other required authority.
Step 4. Notification of approved geographical name
- We publish decision in the Alberta Gazette.
- We notify federal and provincial departments to keep their records updated.
Geographical Names Database
Information about all of Alberta’s official place names is recorded in the Alberta Geographical Names Database. This database also includes information about many unofficial, historic and locally used place names. To learn more, contact the Alberta Geographical Names Program.
To contact the Alberta Geographical Names Program:
Old St. Stephen’s College
8820 112 Street
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2P8
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