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Alberta Online Encyclopedia

Place Naming in Alberta

The Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump near Fort Macleod, Alberta. Place names are historically-contingent phenomena, meaning that there is nothing natural about why a geographical feature or region receives the name it does. Place names, in fact, can often act like discrete history lessons for those interested to learn about them. When we discover why a place received a certain name, we are forced to look back many years and situate ourselves within the political, cultural, and social climate of the time.

Every place name is Alberta has a story behind it, and these stories are the gateways to understanding the influences that make our province as diverse and unique as it is today. This section addresses six main historical phenomena most influential on Alberta's place-naming history: the presence of Aboriginal people, Explorers, Missionaries, Surveyors, the development of Railway Transportation, and Industry.

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            For more on place names of Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

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