The place names inventory aggregated for this website extends the work done by Sarah Bannon at the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Cultural Places Program beyond the mandate of the Northwest Territories. Her work on geographic names within the NWT is catalogued in the Search for Franklin web exhibit at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre website.
Interestingly, Franklin seems to have gone on his British naming spree only after reaching the mouth of the Coppermine. While geographic features in the interior were named after both Indigenous and Canadian participants of the expedition, he peppered the coast stretching from the Coppermine to Bathurst Inlet with references to Royal Navy Admirals, instructors, family members, and British politicians. On his second voyage, both Richardson and himself picked up where they left off, as they added names along the entire coast stretching from Beechey Point in Alaska to the Coppermine in Nunavut.
Most of these names still stand, although in Alaska and Nunavut, concerted efforts have been made to determine and restore the original Inuit names. This process is most advanced in Greenland and Nunavik.
Governance and Change
In the present day, the Geographic Names Programs of the Governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are the principal agencies that govern place names in the Canadian Arctic. They are the territorial partners of the Geographic Names Board of Canada.
In addition to registering official geographic names, the agencies support efforts to research, restore, and recognize traditional Indigenous place names. In Nunavut, the Inuit Heritage Trust has been the principle driver of these endeavours, while in the Northwest Territories, various regional organizations and Indigenous governments have taken the lead.
Assembled below are links to Indigenous place name projects and resources that provide insight into present day efforts to decolonize the landscape of the Canadian Arctic.
- Habitat of Traditional Dogrib Territory: Place Names as Indicators of Biogeographical Knowledge
- Trails of our Ancestors
- Dehcho K’éhodi (Taking Care of the Dehcho) Initiative
- Nááts’įhch’oh National Park Reserve Names
- Sambaa K’e Place Names
- Traditional Ulukhaktok Place Names (Victoria Island)
- Inuvialuit Place Names Virtual Exhibit (Mackenzie River to Husky Lakes)
- Inuvialuit Living History (Anderson River)
- Inuvialuit Knowledge Place Names