CBC Kids | Play Games, Watch Video, Explore


What Canada was ALMOST named


“Canada” likely comes from the word “kanata” — a Huron-Iroquois word meaning “village” or “settlement.” In 1535, French explorer Jacques Cartier used the word “Canada” to describe not just the village of Stadacona, but the entire area controlled by Aboriginal chief Donnacona.

But this country was not always known as Canada. Leading up to the dominion, (that’s when the provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined forces), there were a number of funny, weird and interesting suggestions that were submitted.

For instance, did you know that on July 1, we could have been saying Happy Efisga Day instead of Happy Canada Day? Or that we could have been called Hochelaganers instead of Canadians?

Luckily, Thomas D’Arcy McGee, one of the fathers of confederation, weighed into the debate. Because if it wasn’t for his wit and reason — we would be known by some other name.

Take a peek at names that didn’t make the cut (and what you may have been called, but we don’t know for sure). The list is fascinating, but if anything, it will make you proud to be Canadian.

With files from CBC News.

  • [+] Albertsland (you may have been called an Albertslander)
    • presumably named after Prince Albert (who was married to Queen Victoria of England) who died abruptly in 1861
  • [+] Albionora (you may have been called Albionorian)
    • Albion of the north (Albion also is the oldest name of the island of Great Britain)
  • [+] Borealia (you may have been called Borealian) 
    • ​from “borealis,” the Latin word for “northern”
  • [+] Britannia (you may have been called a Britannian)
    • ​another name for Britain
  • [+] Cabotia (you may have been called a Cabotian)
    • ​in honour of Italian explorer John Cabot, who explored the eastern coast of Canada for England
  • [+] Efisga (you’ll be called an Efisger)
    • an acronym for “English, French, Irish, Scottish, German, Aboriginal”​
  • [+] Hochelaga (you may have been called a Hochelaganers)
    • ​a variation of an Iroquois term, either for “beaver path” or for “big rapids” — the name of an Indigenous village Cartier visited that we now know as Montreal
  • [+] Laurentia (you may have been called a Laurentian)
    • ​derived from French "laurentides"
  • [+] Mesopelagia (you may have been called a Mesopelagian)
    • “land between the seas”

  • [+] Norland (you may have been called a Norlander)
    • ​the north part of the country
  • [+] Superior (you may have been called a Superiorite)
    • ​"higher in rank, status, or quality"
  • [+] Transatlantia or Transatlantica (you’ll be called a Transatlantian)
    • ​presumably crossing the Atlantic
  • [+] Tuponia or Tupona (you’ll be called a Tuponian)
    • ​a combination, called acrostic, derived from “The United Provinces of North America”
  • [+] Ursalia (you’ll be called an Ursalite) 
    • ​“place of the bears”
  • [+] Vesperia (you’ll be called a Vesperite)
    • ​from Roman mythology, meaning the land of the evening star
  • [+] Victorialand (you’ll be called a Victorialander)
    • ​in honour of Queen Victoria