Trump Islands off Twillingate not linked to The Donald, says folklorist

He owns office towers and ritzy resorts, so why not a couple of islands off the northeast coast of Newfoundland? But the Trump name isn't showing up in the records, according to an expert on the province's past.

Philip Hiscock of Memorial University has done the research, but says origin still a mystery

The Trump Islands are tucked into one of the tickles south of Twillingate Island and don't appear on maps of the area until 1860.

There are dozens of buildings and businesses around the world that bear the name of the Republican candidate for president of the United States.

But what about a couple of islands off the northeast coast of Newfoundland?

Probably nothing to do with Donald Trump, says a folklore professor from Memorial University. In fact, Philip Hiscock says the Trump name isn't one that's found in the area off Twillingate.

It's unlikely there's any connection between Donald Trump and Trump Islands, near Twillingate. (Gerald Herbert/The Associated Press)

So he said exactly where the name of North Trump Island and South Trump Island came from is a bit of a mystery.

"I doubt it's a family name unless it's a mistake," said Hiscock.

"Now of course, the name Troake, spelled a couple of different ways, is common enough and perhaps someone misheard the name Troake Island and wrote it down as Trump or even misread someone's handwriting."

Maybe they called it Trump because they were going to make a killing.- Philip Hiscock

Hiscock said the islands are surrounded by rocks, which made it difficult to reach them by boat, and fishing was poor so they weren't settled until the 1860s.

He has researched the possible origins of the name, some of them rude.

Best guesses

"By the end of the 19th century, the word is being used by some people as slang for fart, and people had good senses of humour when they were naming places," he said.

Philip Hiscock of MUN's Folklore Department believes the name of the island can be traced to the hope of windfall profits from a copper mine in the 1800s.

"Funk Islands was named because of the stink. It's possible that it had a smell, I doubt it."

Trump also meant bad luck, he said.  "A trump was a wasted or a false hope."

Hiscock said it's also possible that the islands were named after a geographical feature, like a trumpet-shaped rock or the sound of water going into a cave.

But he believes the most likely explanation is related to the discovery of a copper vein on the island, the reason why people started living there.

"If the name only appears once they discovered the copper, then trump also had a meeting of lucky find and a real kind of pay dirt kind of thing, a windfall, so it could be the people who started operating a copper mine … maybe they called it Trump because they were going to make a killing," said Hiscock.

And they did, but only for 10 years, Hiscock said.

With files from Central Morning