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Canadian Geographical Names
Natural Resources Canada

About the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC)


Toponyms, or geographical names, are used by us all every day - to describe our surroundings and to tell others where we have been or where we plan to go. When we use maps we expect the names to help us identify features of the landscape, and perhaps even to throw light on the local history of an area.

In Canada, names on official, federal government maps have been authorized through the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC). This national committee, which dates back to 1897, now comprises representatives from each province and territory, and from various federal departments concerned with mapping, translation, statistics, archives, defence, national parks and Indian lands.

A brief history of the GNBC

Committee Membership

The GNBC is comprised of 27 members. Its Chair is appointed by the Minister of Natural Resources Canada. Each of the provinces and territories is represented, so also are various federal departments concerned with mapping, archives, defence, translation, Indian reserves, national parks and statistics. As well, the Chairs of four advisory committees (on toponymy research, nomenclature and delineation, digital toponymic services, and undersea and maritime feature names) serve as full members of the GNBC.

GNBC Secretariat

The GNBC's Secretariat is provided by Natural Resources Canada. It is headed by an Executive Secretary who, in concert with the Chair and the representatives of the various federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions, handles on behalf of the GNBC, all routine toponymic matters relating to Canada.

The Secretariat coordinates the information to be included in the automated and graphic name records for national use, arranges for the meetings of the GNBC and its various committees, organizes workshops and seminars, and undertakes the production of GNBC publications. It has an important role in encouraging the official use of names and in stimulating the development of standard policies. It provides a focus for contacts with other national names authorities and promotes international cooperation with the United Nations and other organizations concerned with the global standardization of names.

Contact The Secretariat at Natural Resources Canada.

Contacts for GNBC members (federal, provincial, and territorial).

Guiding principles for geographical naming


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2002-12-19Important notices