Scottish Place Names
- Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
For comparability with other cities around the world, Saint John has been defined as the urban area extending from Westfield in the north-west to the Loch Lomond area and Cape Spencer in the east and from Musquash in the south-west to Nauwigwauk in the north-east. Of the names of the 126 towns and neighbourhoods that have been identified to date in Greater Saint John, 32 (25.4%) can be found as place names in Scotland, or are based on Scottish family names and royal titles, or have some other form of connection with Scotland. Of course, some of these names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but at least 15 of them (11.9%) appear to have a unique connection with Scotland, whether directly or indirectly.
The picture on the right is of St. John New Brunswick Town Square in 2008. Picture via WikiMedia.
Communities and neighbourhoods with names that occur only in Scotland and not elsewhere in the British Isles, and/or are definitely, or most probably, of Scottish origin are:
- Baxters Corner - there is a Baxterknowe in Perth & Kinross and Baxtersyke in East Lothian, both based on this Scottish family name. Baxter was (and still is) a common surname in Angus - their tartan is shown here. It is an occupational name derived from the Old and Middle English words for a baker. Baxter also appears in several place names throughout England and there is a Baxter's Bank in mid-Wales as well. The chances are nevertheless high that the person after whom the Saint John neighbourhood was named had some Scottish ancestry.
- Ben Lomond - a mountain in Stirling, overlooking Loch Lomond - see graphic.
- Blairs - there are more than 200 places in Scotland with Blair as an element in the name including Blair itself in Aberdeenshire, East Ayrshire, Fife, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and Stirling. Blair is derived from the Gaelic blÓr (a woodland clearing or plain). It is also a common Scottish family name.
- Glen Park (Renfrewshire). It is possible, of course, that this neighbourhood's name is purely descriptive, with no intended reference to the place in Scotland.
- Grandview Industrial Park (Grandview in the Shetland Islands). Grandview was a popular name for neighbourhoods as well as streets in all English-speaking countries during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In most instances, the name was applied to localities that literally afforded a wide panorama. In all probability, this was also the reason for naming the Saint John industrial neighbourhood as well as the locality in Scotland.
- Ingleside and Ingleside Heights - Ingleside is the name of a Grade A listed building in Elgin, Moray. The term 'ingle', an archaic Scots word for a fireside, is said by some sources to be possibly derived from an old Gaelic word aingeal, meaning 'fire' or 'light'.
- Loch Lomond and Upper Loch Lomond - these communities are situated on Loch Lomond (see graphic), the large lake on the eastern outskirts of Saint John near the airport. The name of the lake itself no doubt recalls one of Scotland's most famous lochs. In the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website it is noted that the area was "settled about 1800 and named by Lauchlan Donaldson for a region in Scotland."
- Lorneville - Lorne is the name of an ancient district in Argyll & Bute, whence the 'Firth of Lorne', the name of the large estuary at Oban into which Lochs Linnhe and Etive flow. The name of this community possibly honours John Douglas Sutherland Campbell, the Marquess of Lorne. This nobleman served as Governor General of Canada between 1878 and 1883 and was a son-in-law of Queen Victoria. The Saint John neighbourhood was formerly known as Pisarinco and was renamed Lorneville in 1902.
- McAllister Industrial Park - based presumably on a variant spelling of the Scottish family name MacAlister, a branch of Clan Donald descended from Somerled.
- Red Head (Angus, Highland, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands).
- Ritchie Lake - Ritchie is a Scottish surname, the family being a sept of Clan Mackintosh.
- Rothesay (Argyll & Bute). The illustration on the right is of the Winter Gardens at Rothesay, Isle of Bute. The suburb of Rothesay was named for the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII, one of whose titles was the Duke of Rothesay) who visited New Brunswick in 1860 and sailed to Fredericton from a wharf in what is now Rothesay. (Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website)
- Torryburn (Aberdeenshire and Fife; also a district of Aberdeen City called Torry). As noted in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website, the Saint John neighbourhood was possibly named for the Scottish village of Torryburn located on north side of the estuary of Firth of Forth.
Some of the following localities may also prove on further investigation to have a link with Scotland. However, these names are also associated with other parts of the British Isles and there is nothing intrinsically 'Scottish' about any of them:
- Belmont (Scottish Borders, Shetland Islands and South Ayrshire) also found in England, Ireland and Wales and was an extremely popular choice of name in all English-speaking countries during the nineteenth century. Its origin is ultimately French - 'beautiful mountain'.
- Brookville - there are no places in Scotland with this particular name. The possibility of a link with Scotland exists, however, when considering the explanation given in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website: "[Brookville was] possibly named for Brook Watson, an agent for the New Brunswick government in London, England from 1786-1794." (http://archives.gnb.ca/exhibits/communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=469) Watson is both a Scottish and an English family name. A survey of family names in Britain in the 1970s showed, however, that Watson was the 17th most common family name in Scotland whereas its ranking in England was much lower (47th).
- Cape Spencer - there is a Spencerfield in Fife, but Spencer is encountered far more frequently in English place names.
- Churchill Heights - Churchill is a district of the City of Edinburgh but the name is also used in England and Wales.
- East Riverside - there is a Riverside in Stirling but the name occurs more frequently in England and is also found in Wales.
- Greenwood and Greenwood Park - there are several places in Scotland called Greenwood (in the Scottish Borders, Moray and South Lanarkshire) but this is also the case in England and Ireland.
- Little River (Highland) also in Somerset, England.
- Primrose (Fife) also in northern England.
- Seaview (Highland) also two places in England.
- South Bay (Argyll & Bute, Orkney Islands and South Ayrshire) also in North Yorkshire, England.
- Westfield and Westfield Centre - there are several places in Scotland called Westfield (in Aberdeenshire, Scottish Borders, East Lothian, Falkirk, Fife, Highland, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian) but the name is used just as frequently across England.
A final category of suburban and neighbourhood names comprises places that can be found in Scotland but which, in Saint John's case, definitely or most probably have no Scottish connection.
- Randolph - there is a water feature in Moray called Randolph's Leap but place names featuring Randolph are encountered more commonly in south eastern England. Thomas Randolph, 1st Earl of Moray (illustrated here), was a companion-in-arms of Robert the Bruce and he and Edward Balliol were chosen as regents of the kingdom, during the minority of King David II. The possibility of a link between the Saint John neighbourhood and Scotland is lessened, however, when considering the explanation provided in the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website: "[Randolph was] named for Archibald Fitz-Randolph who, along with Charles P. Baker, set up a sawmill and lime burning operation in 1870." (http://archives.gnb.ca/exhibits/communities/Details.aspx?culture=en-CA&community=3222). Fitz-Randolph is considered to be an English family name.
- South End (Argyll & Bute) also in England. Being positioned literally at the southern end of downtown Saint John, the name of this neighbourhood is presumably descriptive of that fact.
- Stanley Gardens - there is a Stanley in Perth & Kinross as well as in eleven English counties. It is possible that this neighbourhood honours Frederick Arthur Stanley, Baron Stanley of Preston, Governor General of Canada from 1888 to 1893 and who was an Englishman.
- Trinity Royal - there is a Trinity in Angus and the City of Edinburgh, as well as in England and the Channel Islands. The Saint
Further evidence of Scottish influences on the development of Greater Saint John can be found in the names of lakes, creeks and other geographical features in and around the urban area. Lakes that have Scottish sounding names include Ashburn Lake (near Cherry Brook Zoo), Irwin Lake (Golden Grove area), McCormac Lake (Churchland Road), McKeever Lake (Rothesay), McLachlan Lake (Rothesay), MacFarlane Lake (Quispamsis), Robertson Lake (Pokiok) and of course Loch Lomond and Loch Alva. Creeks include Grahams Brook (Lakewood), Milligan Brook (Ingleside) and Patterson Brook (in Rockwood Park). There are also at least two promontories or points with Scottish sounding names (Hendersons Point in Rothesay and Robertson Point near Pokiok), an inlet (Forrester's Cove near Otty Glen) and a park (James Ross Memorial Park in Saint John East). One or two of the above names could in reality be Irish, which is a distinct possibility since place names that are definitely Irish are fairly frequently found in the Greater Saint John area, though not as frequently as Scottish or English ones.
- New Brunswick Cities Street Atlas, 2005 (MapArt Publishing, Oshawa).
- Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website
- Mapquest.com for the names of outlying suburbs.
- James D Scarlett (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
- Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, October 2005
Revised February 2013
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where else would you like to go in Scotland?
News & Views>
All Features Index>
Search This Site>
Scottish Pictorial Calendar>
Places to Visit>