Some Challenges of Names Recognition: The Ontario Geographic Names Board, Canada, 2000–2007
Canada was one of the first countries to establish a geographical names authority and has participated in the work of standardization at the United Nations since the first conference in 1967. Over the past forty years the approval of geographical names in Canada has been primarily the responsibility of the provinces and, for a shorter time, the territories. The names authority for the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Geographic Names Board (OGNB), comprises seven members (including representatives from Ontario First Nations, and the province’s English- and French-speaking communities). Between 2000 and 2007, the OGNB considered some 380 names submissions, recommending approximately 330 for official recognition and general dissemination. This paper looks at some of the main challenges to the Board during this period. Among the questions considered were issues relating to such themes as commemorative naming, urban community naming, and handling existing names considered derogatory. Sometimes bearing on the Board’s approaches to these issues were the need for names for emergency reference purposes (911 dialling), a sparse population in northern areas of the province to support local usage, and conflicting submissions to replace derogatory names. Issues, approaches, examples, and preliminary guidelines are presented.