In 2002, Queen Elizabeth II toured Canada in honour of her Golden Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne. To mark the occasion, the Ontario government promised to rename a provincial park in the Queen’s honour. On 9 October 2002, Dalton-Digby Wildlands Provincial Park in south-central Ontario — one of the largest in the province — was officially renamed Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands Provincial Park. In Manitoba, each of Queen Elizabeth II’s eight grandchildren has a lake named in his or her honour. For as long as Europeans have been establishing permanent settlements in what is now Canada, they have named or renamed places after royalty. Here are 10 examples.
1. Mount Queen Bess, British Columbia
Mount Queen Bess is one of the highest peaks in the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountains of southern British Columbia. The mountain is named for Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned from 1558 until 1603. Although it is possible that Elizabethan explorer Sir Francis Drake visited Vancouver Island in 1579 during his circumnavigation of the globe, he did not name Mount Queen Bess in honour of his royal patron. Instead, Mount Queen Bess was named by 20th-century land surveyor Captain Richard P. Bishop, who proposed the name in 1928, inspired by the history of Elizabethan navigators.
2. Place Royale, Quebec City
King Louis XIV of France, nicknamed the Sun King, reigned from 1643 to 1715 — a 72-year reign that remains the longest in European history. He played a key role in the development of New France. In 1663, New France became a Crown colony. In 1685, Louis ordered the creation of a “place royale” in his honour in the various regions of his kingdom. A bust of the king arrived in Quebec City for display in the new Place Royale the following year. The Fortress of Louisbourg in Nova Scotia is also named for Louis XIV, though the fortress was not completed until the reign of his great-grandson and successor, Louis XV.
In 1670, King Charles II granted the Royal Charter to the Hudson’s Bay Company, giving it a commercial monopoly over the Hudson Bay watershed – one-third of modern Canada. Charles II’s cousin Prince Rupert of the Rhine, a royalist cavalry general during the English Civil Wars and an honorary member of the Royal Society, was appointed first governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the Hudson Bay watershed became known as Rupert’s Land. The city of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is also named for Prince Rupert of the Rhine.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn and the father of Queen Victoria, was one of the first members of the British royal family to live in what is now Canada for an extended period. Prince Edward spent much of the 1790s in Quebec City and Halifax and eventually became commander of the British Forces in North America. He was also the first member of the royal family to visit Upper Canada (now Ontario). Although Edward never visited St. John’s Island (Ile Saint-Jean) during his time in British North America, it was renamed Prince Edward Island in 1799.
5. Cobourg, Ontario
The town of Cobourg, Ontario, is a rare example of a Canadian town named for royal personage who was neither British nor French. In 1816, the future King George IV’s only legitimate child, Princess Charlotte of Wales, married a German prince, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld. Charlotte was expected to become queen, and there was tremendous excitement about the royal wedding and the prospect of a royal baby. Charlotte tragically died, however, giving birth to a stillborn son in 1817. The town was named in recognition of their marriage. Leopold went on to become King Leopold I of the Belgians and a mentor to his niece, Queen Victoria.
6. Victoria, British Columbia
There are more places named after Queen Victoria in Canada than any other historical figure. Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901 — the second longest reign in British history. In honour of her coronation in 1838, she granted amnesties to participants in the Rebellions of 1837–38 in Upper and Lower Canada. In 1845, the legislative assembly of the Province of Canada declared May 24, the Queen’s birthday, an official public holiday, which continues to be celebrated to this day (see Victoria Day). Victoria supported Canadian self-government and Confederation in 1867. Other places named for Queen Victoria in Canada include Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan; Victoria Island in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut; and Victoriaville, Quebec.
7. Lake Louise, Alberta
Queen Victoria’s fourth daughter, Princess Louise Caroline Alberta, was the first female member of the royal family to cross the Atlantic Ocean and visit Canada. In 1878, her husband, John Campbell, Lord Lorne, became the fourth governor general of Canada since Confederation, and the royal couple moved into Rideau Hall in Ottawa. Louise was an accomplished writer, painter and sculptor. During Lord Lorne’s term as governor general (1878–83), the couple played a key role in the creation of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and the National Gallery of Canada and undertook the first royal tour of British Columbia. The province of Alberta is also named for Princess Louise.
8. Prince George, British Columbia
The city of Prince George, British Columbia, was certainly named after a member of the royal family…but which Prince George? In 1807, explorer Simon Fraser might have named the fur trading post of Fort George after King George III. The city itself, however, was incorporated in 1915, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandfather, King George V. One of King George V’s sons, Prince George, Duke of Kent, is another possible inspiration for the city’s name.
9. Queen Elizabeth Way, Ontario
Just like cities, mountains and lakes, Canadian streets and highways have also been named after royalty. In 1939, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) spent four weeks in Canada on the eve of the Second World War; they were the first reigning monarch and consort to undertake a Canadian royal tour. On 7 June 1939, the King and Queen ceremonially opened a new highway, Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW), near Henley Bridge in St. Catharines. The Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth, returned to Canada 14 times. There were even rumours in the 1950s that she would be appointed governor general. In 2000, at the age of 100, the Queen Mother received the Order of Canada.
10. Prince Charles Island, Nunavut
The largest island in Foxe Basin, Prince Charles Island, was mapped by a Royal Canadian Air Force aerial survey in 1948 — the same year that the future Queen Elizabeth II gave birth to her first child, Prince Charles. The uninhabited island was named in the royal baby’s honour. Prince Charles travelled to what is now Nunavut on his first tour of Canada in 1970, visiting Frobisher Bay (now Iqaluit) with his parents, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and his sister, Princess Anne. Charles last visited Canada for the 150th anniversary of Confederation in 2017.