IN RETHINKING OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LAND and talking about what our future on it might be, it is helpful to be able to refer to specific places by name. Place names are essential reference points that help us create a common understanding about the physical state of the land.
Many of the official place names for prominent Discovery Islands geographical features were assigned by British colonial government officials who never lived here and were intended to honour other government officials who never set eyes on this place. Perhaps those names’ most useful service now it is to remind us that this land was appropriated from the original inhabitants by a colonizing government that understood how to create the illusion of ownership by putting it’s own place names on maps. Part of the necessary reconciliation between settler culture and Indigenous people is to change the British place names back to the traditional names used by the Indigenous inhabitants.
For now, we are stuck with a smaller but still vexing problem: Many geographical features of the Discovery Islands are nameless. For example, Quadra Island has over 70 lakes of various sizes and significance, yet only 13 of those have official names. Since lakes make very useful reference points for developing an understanding about the land and what’s happening to it, the lack of named lakes creates unnecessary difficulty in creating a common understanding necessary to steward the land. The same applies to creeks, mountains, wetlands, bogs, points of land on the coasts, and so on.
The map below shows both official and unofficial place names. Names with a white dot in front of the name are local names in common usage—or placeholder names used by this project. Eventually, each place name will have its own page on this website. A brief explanation of where each official place name came from for each of the Discovery Islands can be found by following the links immediately below. If you have knowledge of the origin of place names on your island, please consider adding them in the comments section for each name. If you know of a commonly used place name that is not shown on the map below, please tell us about it in the comments section on this page (below).
Origin of place names:
Quadra Island Cortes Island Read Island Maurelle Island Sonora Island