7 names for Calgary before it became Calgary
How many Elbows does a city need?
This story was originally published on Dec. 3, 2015.
Calgary was incorporated as a town in 1884, but it was known by many names before that.
Many of the indigenous names for Calgary refer to where the Elbow River turns abruptly north into the Bow River, making an "elbow-like" curve.
The Blackfoot word for "elbow." Another name, Moh-kíns-tsis-aká-piyoyis, meaning "elbow many houses" was also used in 1875.
The Stoney word for "elbow," referring, again, to the area's waterways.
The Cree also referred to the region by its rivers, using their word for "elbow."
The T'suu T'ina word for — surprise! — "elbow."
The Slavey name for Calgary focused on another popular description of the area — "horse town."
The year was 1875, not too long after the Mounties made their famous march west to Alberta, when they built a fort near the meeting of the Bow and Elbow.
In a show of what could only be called pure egotism, the officer in charge of the fort — Insp. Ephrem Brisebois — named the post after himself.
The name would have probably worked out better had his men not hated their leader. The decision also rankled Brisebois' superiors as he hadn't asked for permission to name the fort after himself. The senior officers took it upon themselves to change the name of the fort.
A year later, in 1876, the post name changed to Fort Calgary at the suggestion of Lt.-Col. James Farquharson Macleod with the North West Mounted Police. He named it after the ancestral estate of his cousins on the picturesque Scottish Isle of Mull, which he had recently visited.
Calgary had lots of different spellings in the early days — in the 1600s, Calligourie, Callagorie, and Calligory were all seen in written records. While it was first thought to be Gaelic for "clear running water," it's now generally agreed that it means "bay farm," an apt description of the original Calgary House that overlooked the ocean on the Isle of Mull.
Calgary dropped "Fort" from its name when it was incorporated a city in 1884.
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