Alberta Geographical Names Program

Naming a geographical feature is a public trust, carried out for the benefit of present and future generations.

Geographical features or places are named for the purpose of orientation and reference. They are also an integral part of our cultural heritage. The accuracy of official maps depends on the careful and precise information available from the Alberta Geographical Names Program.

The Geographic Board of Canada was established in December 1897 as an assertion of Canada's sovereignty over its own geographical territory. By the 1970s, the responsibility for most geographical features had been transferred to the provinces. The naming of features on land in Alberta administered by the federal government is a joint responsibility. A national body still exists, the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC).

The GNBC serves as an advisory and coordinating body between provincial, federal and international naming authorities. All provincial geographical naming authorities use principles and procedures on standards recommended by the national board. Each province and territory has representatives on the GNBC.

Coordination & Final Decision

The Coordinator of the Alberta Geographical Names Program is responsible for:

  • Program coordination
  • Procedures
  • Working with other governmental organizations on toponymic matters
  • Dissemination of geographical names information from popular to scholarly or technical
  • Record maintenance
  • Toponymic field and archival research
  • Other activities relating to geographical names proposals
  • Advising the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and the Minister of Culture and Tourism on naming decisions

Final naming decisions are made by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation and Minister of Culture and Tourism. For more information view Section 18 of the Historical Resources Act.

The Geographical Names Manual has further information on the principles and procedures of geographical naming in Alberta.

If you are interested in submitting an application to name a feature in Alberta, review the manual above and complete the Application for Naming a Geographical Feature.

For more information contact Ronald Kelland, Coordinator, Alberta Geographical Names Program.

Last reviewed/revised: June 6, 2016
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