What’s in a name?
How do geographical features get named? The Freers’ interest was piqued this spring when on an Elderhostel to the Yukon and Alaska. Travelling down the Alaska Inner Passage through the Lynn Canal, they wondered why this natural waterway was called a canal. It seems that some cartographer, either through carelessness or sloppy writing, wrote down canal instead of channel and the designation has stuck.
What about Minnicock? A letter to the Geographic Names Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources, the agency now responsible for naming and renaming geographic features, produced this information. The origin of the name is unknown. A map titled Lindsay, dated 1858, gives the name as Pine Lake. Another mystery file, 84136, lists Stormy Lake. On November 3, 1953, the Canadian Board on Geographical Names, the naming authority from 1948 to 1961, approved the name Minnicock Lake based on File 10120. Various forms are reported including Minniecock, Minnicook and Minnicoch.
If this were Britain, we might have some amending to do. A recent directive from the British Plumbers’ Association in the interests of gender sensitivity has asked members to stop using the terms “ballcock” and “stop cock.” Instead they are enjoined to use “float-operated valves.” Would the name of our lake then become “Minni-float-operated-valve” Lake?