Natural Resources CanadaGovernment of Canada
 Français  Contact Us  Help  Search  Canada site
 Home  GeoNames  Query  Products and  Services  Education  News and Info
Canadian Geographical Names
Natural Resources Canada

A Brief History of the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC)

The need for a Canadian names authority was recognized in the late 1800s, when resource mapping beyond the frontiers of settlement and extensive immigration made it an urgent matter to manage the country's geographical names - to standardize their spelling and their application to particular features.

The Geographic Board of Canada was set up in 1897, and was succeeded by the Canadian Board on Geographic Names in 1948. In 1961, the names authority was reorganized as the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names (CPCGN). In March 2000, it became the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC).

Soon after 1897 the provinces and territories were invited to provide advice on the use, spelling and application of names, although until 1961 decisions were ultimately made in Ottawa. At that time, the responsibility for naming was transferred to the provinces. Since 1979, the authority for naming in Indian reserves, national parks, and military reserves has been jointly held by the appropriate federal department and the province concerned. In 1984, Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories assumed resonsiblity for the names in their own jurisdictions.

Among today's roles of the GNBC as a national coordinating body are the development of standard policies for the treatment of names and terminology, the promotion of the use of official names, and the encouragement of the development of international standards in cooperation with the United Nations and other national authorities responsible for naming policies and practices.


Print versionPrint version


2002-12-19Important notices