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  • Discovery Islands place names

    Project Staff

    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 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 80 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 whats happening to it, the lack of named lakes creates unnecessary difficulty in creating the 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 usageor 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


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  • The map below (a work in progress) shows the current assignment of place names, derived from various maps of the Discovery Islands. Use the + or - buttons to zoom in and out of the map. You can pan around the map by clicking and dragging it.


    Discovery Islands 360

    The project has made a number of short videos using drones that hover 200 metres above a given point and pan around through 360 degrees. These videos include place names of prominent features that appear as the view changes. In the image below, click on a yellow dot for a link to the video made at that point.

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