Scottish Place Names
- Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
For comparability with other cities around the world, Vancouver has been defined as those parts of the Greater Vancouver Regional District which form a continuous, or near-continuous built-up urban area. This area includes the following cities, districts and corporations, which collectively constitute the Lower Fraser Valley: Vancouver, West Vancouver, North Vancouver, Bowen Island, Village of Lions, Squamish, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Delta, Surrey, Langley, White Rock, Village of Belcarra, Village of Anmore, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge. Of the names of the 359 cities, communities and neighbourhoods that have been identified to date in Greater Vancouver, 80 (22.3%) can be found as place names in Scotland or are based on Scottish family names or Scottish words. Of course, some of these names are used in other parts of the British Isles as well, but 44 of them (12.3%) appear to have a unique connection with Scotland, whether directly or indirectly. However, several of these are variations on a single name, for example the numerous neighbourhoods with Fraser or Lynn as part of their name.
Picture of Vancouver 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:
- Dollarton - there are places called Dollar, Dollarbank, Dollarbeg and Dollarfield in Clackmannanshire and Dollar Law in the Scottish Borders. Akrigg & Akrigg (2005), authorities on place names in the Fraser Valley, attribute the name of this neighbourhood to a Captain Robert Dollar, who was born in Scotland in 1844 and who "is chiefly remembered today because of his Dollar Steamship Line, a major one in its day." Picture of Captain Robert Dollar on the front of "Time" magazine via Wikipedia.
- Douglas (South Lanarkshire - the original territorial base of the powerful Douglas family; also a suburb of Dundee called Douglas and Angus and numerous other places in Scotland with Douglas as part of the name). Douglas is found in Ireland and on the Isle of Man as well, probably having been taken there by Scottish settlers. The illustration shows Tantallon Castle, near North Berwick, one of the many Douglas strongholds. "This border crossing-point, near White Rock, is named after Benjamin Douglas, a pioneer settler." (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005).
- Dunbar (East Lothian). Dunbar was the birthplace of the environmental pioneer John Muir.
- Dundarave (Dundarave Point near the head of Loch Fyne in Argyll & Bute). Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) provide the following explanation of the origin of the name: "An early resident, Russell Macnaghten, Professor of Greek at the University of British Columbia, named this part of West Vancouver after Dundarave Castle in Scotland, the ancestral home of Clan Macnaghten. Dundarave, which should rhyme with "have", comes from a Gaelic word having reference to a two-oared boat."
- Elgin (Moray). According to Room (2003), Elgin means 'little Ireland' in Gaelic, a reminder of the days when Pictish Scotland was gradually being colonised by Celts from Ireland.
- Essondale - although not found as a place name anywhere in the British Isles, Esson is a Scottish surname, the family being a sept of Clan Shaw. Whether or not the name of this Coquitlam neighbourhood has any direct connection with Scotland would depend on the ancestry of Dr. Henry Esson Young, after whom Essondale is named. Dr. Young was Provincial Secretary when the provincial mental hospital was established and was also responsible for the founding of the University of British Columbia (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005).
- Fraser, Fraser Heights, Fraser Mills, Fraser Shops, Fraserview, Simon Fraser Hills and South Fraser - Fraser is a Scottish surname of Norman origin, resulting in place names such as Fraserford (Dumfries & Galloway) and Fraserburgh (Aberdeenshire - founded by Sir Alexander Fraser in 1546). The names of these Greater Vancouver communities all refer, presumably, to Simon Fraser (1776-1862), fur trader and explorer for the North West Company. His father, Simon Fraser, senior, and his mother Isabella Grant, had emigrated from Scotland in 1773. Fraser was born in the USA but emigrated from there to Canada with his loyalist mother and siblings after the American War of Independence. Picture of Simon Fraser via Wikipedia.
- Glenayre - there is no trace of a Glenayre in Scotland. However, the fact that all the streets in this neighbourhood bear Scottish names, especially from south-western Scotland, suggests a reference to Ayrshire.
- Gleneagles (Perth & Kinross, famous for its golf course). As explained by Akrigg & Akrigg, (2005), the West Vancouver neighbourhood, formed around 1927, took the name of an adjacent golf course which, in turn had been named after the well-known golf links in Perthshire, Scotland.
- Glenmore - there are several places called Glenmore in Argyll & Bute and Highland as well as one just across the border in Cumbria. Glenmore is also found in Ireland, the name being derived from the Gaelic, the meaning of which is 'great valley'. The fact that most of the streets in this West Vancouver subdivision have Scottish names, while Irish and Cumbrian street names are conspicuous by their absence, strongly suggests that the name Glenmore was chosen to evoke Scotland.
- Glenwood (Aberdeenshire).
- Grandview (Shetland Islands) and Grandview Heights and Grandview-Woodland by association.
- Hamilton (South Lanarkshire). The name Hamilton has been associated with Scotland since the thirteenth century, having been taken there by Walter Fitz Gilbert (Sir Walter de Hameldone). Hameldome/Hamelton was the name of Sir Walter's English estate in either Northumberland or Leicestershire. According to the Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names (Room, 2003), Hamilton in Old English means 'farmstead in broken country'. Hamilton is one of the most frequently recurring Scottish place names around the English-speaking world, so much so that there are two neighbourhoods in Greater Vancouver with this name, one in the City of North Vancouver and the other in the City of Richmond. The photograph of the Duke of Hamilton with the Crown of Scotland at the opening of the Scottish Parliament is courtesy of Scottish Parliament> © Web site.
- Highland Park - the name of this district of the City of Coquitlam possibly recalls the Highlands of Scotland.
- Hydro - there is a Hydro House in Highland, the only occurrence of 'Hydro' as a place name in the British Isles but since it is a Greek reference to 'water' the Scottish connection may be pure coincidence.
- Keith Lynn, Lynn Creek, Lynn Valley, Lynnmour and Upper Lynn - there is a Lynn in the Orkney Islands as well as in two English counties. However, the names of these neighbourhoods are based on a corruption of the surname Linn, a family name that was first recorded in Ayrshire, Scotland. Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) point out that these places were named after "John Linn (note the correct spelling), one of the Royal Engineers who came to British Columbia in 1859. After the contingent was disbanded in 1863, the officers returned to England, but most of the sappers, including Linn, remained in B.C. He lived with his family at the mouth of this creek and died in 1876." (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005). Sapper John Linn was born in Corstorphine, Edinburgh in 1821.
- Kelvin (Perth & Kinross and South Lanarkshire, and the name of a river (pictured here) which joins the Clyde, resulting in four districts of Glasgow being named for the river: Kelvindale, Kelvingrove, Kelvinhaugh and Kelvinside.
- Kerrisdale (Highland, spelt Kerrysdale). Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) state that in 1905, a young Scottish couple named MacKinnon, who had recently settled in the area, were invited by the general manager of B.C. Electric to name the new railway station at what is now West 41st Avenue in Vancouver. Mrs. MacKinnon chose 'Kerrysdale' after her home in Scotland, which soon became Kerrisdale. Kerrysdale is a village in Wester Ross, Highland, south of Gairloch and Charlestown.
- Lochdale - although there is no such place name in Scotland or anywhere else in the British Isles, 'loch' is the Scottish word for a lake or an arm of the sea, while valleys in the south of Scotland are usually called dales (as in northern England) rather than glens.
- MacKenzie Heights - there is a Mackenzie's Cairn in Highland based on this Scottish surname. The MacKenzie clan can trace its ancestry back to at least the 15th century, the name meaning 'son of the fair' in Gaelic. The Vancouver neighbourhood presumably takes its name from its main road, MacKenzie Street. No information has been found on the origin of the name of this street. One nevertheless wonders whether the name is a tribute to Scots explorer Alexander MacKenzie, who was born around 1767 in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. Alternatively, the name may honour Prime Minister Mackenzie King, or an early settler.
- McMillan Island Indian Reserve - Macmillan is a Scottish clan whose origins go back to the 12th Century. The name is derived from the Gaelic MacMhaolain - 'son of the bald or tonsured one' - suggesting an ecclesiastical origin.
- Murrayville - Murray is one of the best known Scottish family names, derived from the name of the area (Moray) in which the Pictish founder of the clan was granted land. Examples of places in Scotland based on this name include Murray's Hill (Perth & Kinross), Murrayfield (Edinburgh) and Murraythwaite (Dumfries & Galloway). The name has also travelled to England, e.g., Murray's Rock in Devon and is claimed as an Irish name as well.
- Port Mann - Mann is a Scottish as well as a German family name. The origin of the name of this Surrey neighbourhood is attributed to Ontario-born Sir Donald Mann (1853-1934) who is more likely to have had Scots rather than German ancestry. Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) note that the place was named "after Donald Mann of the firm of Mackenzie and Mann, the builders of the Canadian Northern Railway. Port Mann was originally intended to be the road's Pacific terminus. Mann was knighted in 1911. His railway became part of the Canadian National Railway in 1923." (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005). Many of the streets and roads in Port Mann have Scottish names: Ayr Drive, Caledonia Drive, Currie Drive, Dumbarton Road and Place, Gladstone Drive, Glen Avon Drive, Lorne Circus, McBride Drive, Melrose Drive, Perth Drive, Roxburgh Road and St Andrews Drive. The main park in Port Mann, Invergarry Park, also has a Scottish name, as does the creek flowing through it, the Bon Accord Creek, Bon Accord being an old name for Aberdeen.
- Renfrew (Renfrewshire) and Renfrew Heights by association. The illustration shows Renfrew Town Hall in Scotland.
- Ruskin - a Scottish family name, the Ruskins being a sept of the Buchanans.
- Strachan Creek - there is a town called Strachan in Aberdeenshire. The family name of Strachan also originates in this part of Scotland. It is probable that the community of Strachan Creek was named after Admiral Sir Richard Strachan, who lent his name to nearby Mount Strachan.
- Strathcona - Named after Lord Strathcona(Donald Alexander Smith, born in Forres, Scotland, in 1820), a pioneer of the Hudson's Bay Company and the Canadian Pacific Railway. There are two neighbourhoods with this name, one in Vancouver City and the other in the District Municipality of North Vancouver.
- Walnut Grove (a suburb of Perth on the River Tay). It is probably pure coincidence, however, that the only place in the British Isles with this name happens to be in Scotland.
- Whytecliff - Whyte is a Scottish as well as an English family name. The Scottish Whytes are a sept of both Clan Lamont and Clan MacGregor. Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) provide the following account of the origin of the name of this West Vancouver neighbourhood: "An Admiralty survey named the promontory here White Cliff Point, but in 1914 a real estate developer, Colonel Albert Whyte, persuaded the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (now the B.C. Rail) to name its station here not White Cliff but Whytecliff." According to the History of the State of Washington, Colonel Albert Whyte was born in Glasgow in 1847.
- Woodhaven (Fife).
Some of the following districts, neighbourhoods and subdivisions are also likely to have a direct or indirect Scottish connection but these names tend to be used in other parts of the British Isles as well:
- Brighouse (Dumfries & Galloway and Fife) also two places in northern England. This neighbourhood was actually named after Sam Brighouse, who arrived in British Columbia. in 1862, established a ranch on Lulu Island and was a business associate of John Morton and William Hailstone, the trio being known as "The Three Greenhorns" (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005). Brighouse is an English family name from Yorkshire.
- Brownsville - there are many places in both Scotland and England that have 'Brown' as an element in their name. The surname Brown is also very common in both countries, with surveys in the 1970s suggesting that it is the second most common family name in Scotland (after Smith) and the third most common in England (after Smith and Jones). Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) states that Brownsville was "named after Ebenezer Brown, who came to B.C. during the Fraser Gold Rush. He farmed here and ran a very respectable saloon in New Westminster. Brownsville stood opposite New Westminster, and was once connected to it by ferry." Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005). The illustration here shows the Brown tartan.
- Clayton (Fife) though far more commonly found throughout England.
- Coldwell Beach - there is a Coldwell in Aberdeenshire as well as several places across Scotland called Coldwells. However, Coldwell can also be found in both England and Wales.
- Cove Cliff - there are places simply called Cove in Aberdeen City, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders and Highland, as well as several places in England.
- East Hill (Scottish Borders, Orkney Islands and Perth & Kinross; also in Aberdeenshire and Dumfries & Galloway - spelt Easthill) but found far more frequently throughout England.
- Glen Valley - there are places called Glen in Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands and Shetland Islands, as well as two places in Ireland. There are also hundreds of places in both Scotland and Ireland, and a few in England and Wales with Glen as an element in the name. Glen simply means 'valley' in Gaelic, making the name of this Langley neighbourhood a tautology (unless, of course, Glen refers to a personal name).
- Hollyburn and Hollyburn Estates - these names do not seem to occur as place names in Scotland but the following account by Akrigg & Akrigg (2005) is suggestive of a possible Scottish origin. "West Vancouver's first white settler, John Lawson planted holly by the side of the 'burn' (a Scottish word for a stream) flowing across his property. Putting the two words together, he coined 'Hollyburn' as the name for his place." (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005). It should be cautioned, however, that the case for a northern English connection is equally strong since 'burn' is also the northern English word for a stream and the family name Lawson is more Yorkshire than Scottish.
- Kennedy Heights - Kennedy is an ancient Scottish family name (that's the family tartan shown here), though there are Irish Kennedy's as well. The origin of the name is Gaelic, 'ceannaideach' (ugly head).
- Mount Pleasant (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Scottish Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, Fife, Highland, Moray and the Orkney Islands) also all over England, Ireland and Wales, as well as Canada, the USA and Australia it would seem.
- Port Kells - there is a Kells in Dumfries & Galloway but the name occurs more frequently in Ireland and is also found in Cumbria, England.
- Seaview (Highland) also two places in England.
- Strawberry Hill (Scottish Borders) though found far more frequently in England.
- Sunnyside (Aberdeenshire, Dumfries & Galloway, East Ayrshire, East Lothian, Fife, Glasgow City, Perth & Kinross, North Ayrshire, Orkney Islands, Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire) also in England but not as commonly as in Scotland which probably says something about the premium placed on sunshine in Scotland! There are two neighbourhoods with this name, one in the City of Port Moody and the other in the City of Surrey.
- Townsend (Orkney Islands) but widely found throughout southern England and is also found in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Townsend is an English family name, which further reduces the likelihood of a Scottish connection with the name of this Delta neighbourhood.
- Victoria - there is a place called Victoria in Perth & Kinross as well as several places in England, all of which no doubt honour Queen Victoria. The illustration is of the statue of Queen Victoria on top of the Doulton Fountain in Glasgow.
- West Bay (Argyll & Bute and Inverclyde) also in Dorset, England.
- Westwood (Dumfries & Galloway, Highland, Perth & Kinross, Stirling and South Lanarkshire) and Westwood Plateau by association but Westwood is also commonly found throughout England and is a favourite name for neighbourhoods in other Canadian and American cities.
- Woodland and Woodland Acres - there is a place called Woodland in South Ayrshire, but this name is also found in five English counties.
- Woodlands (Aberdeenshire, Argyll & Bute, Borders, Dumfries & Galloway, Fife, Highland, Perth & Kinross and South Lanarkshire) and North Woodlands by association. Woodlands is also a common place name in England and is found in Ireland and Wales as well.
A final category of neighbourhood and suburban names comprises places that can be found in Scotland, but which, in Vancouver's case, definitely or most probably have no connection with Scotland.
- Davie Village - Davie is both a Scottish and an English family name, the Scottish family being a sept of Clan Davidson. Davie Village takes its name from Davie Street which, according to an article in Wikipedia was named in honour of Alexander Edmund Batson Davie (1847-1889), eighth Premier of British Columbia from 1887 to 1889 and who was born in Somerset, England.
- Lonsdale, Central Lonsdale, Lower Lonsdale and North Lonsdale - there is a Lonsdale in South Lanarkshire as well as a plantation by this name in North Yorkshire, England; also Kirkby Lonsdale in the Lake District (Cumbria). These North Vancouver neighbourhoods were actually named after an Englishman, Arthur Heywood-Lonsdale of Shavington Hall, Shropshire, rather than places in Scotland or England. Arthur Lonsdale and a kinsman once owned the waterfront between Moodyville and the Capilano River (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005).
- Mary Hill (Aberdeenshire, Glasgow City and Moray - all spelt Maryhill) and Mary Hill Industrial Park by association. The spelling suggests that the name of these Port Coquitlam neighbourhoods may simply be based on the personal name Mary rather than a place in Scotland. This is indeed the case, according to Akrigg & Akrigg (2005), who write: "The Royal Engineers, who saw this hill as a good site for a citadel to protect New Westminster in the event of an American invasion, named it after the wife of their colonel, Richard Moody."
- Newton - this is one of the most commonly recurring place names throughout Scotland, England and parts of Wales. However, the origin of the name of this Surrey neighbourhood has nothing to do any particular part of Britain. It was actually named after a pioneer settler and harness-maker whose real name was Villeneuve "but, being in an anglophone community, he changed it to Newton (which, like Villeneuve, means 'new town')." (Akrigg & Akrigg, 2005).
- Riverside (Stirling) also in England and Wales. The name of this North Vancouver neighbourhood is most probably simply descriptive of its location on the east bank of the Seymour River.
- Tynehead (Midlothian). The name of this Surrey neighbourhood is only coincidentally Scottish. The original spelling was 'Tinehead', a name derived from the fact that the settlement is situated at the head of the Serpentine River. According to Akrigg & Akrigg (2005), the modern spelling has been assimilated to Tynehead by analogy with the River Tyne in the north of England.
- West End (City of Edinburgh and South Lanarkshire) but evenly more commonly found in England and to a lesser extent in Wales. There are two neighbourhoods with this name, one in the City of Vancouver and the other in the City of New Westminster. The fact that both neighbourhoods are located to the immediate west of their respective downtowns suggests a purely geographical reason for their names.
Other evidence of the Scottish influence on the development of Greater Vancouver can be found in the names of parks, creeks and other geographical features throughout the metropolitan area. Examples of parks with names that sound Scottish include: Ailsa Park (Glenayre), Andy Livingstone Park (Gastown), Braemar Park (North Lonsdale), Cameron Park (Mary Hill), Dugald J. Morrison Park (Ladner), Glencoe Park (Glenayre), Invergarry Park (Port Mann), Kelvin Grove Beach Park (Village of Lions), McNair Place Park (Upper Lynn), Montrose Park (Burnaby Heights) and Ron McLean Park (Middlegate). This list is by no means exhaustive. Creeks and rivers include Campbell River (Hazelmere), Irvine Creek (Burke Mountain), McDonald Creek (Panorama Village), McLean Creek (Burke Mountain) and of course the Fraser River itself. Other geographical place names include Brae Island, Blair Point, Gunn Island, Iona Island and McDonald Slough (all in the City of Richmond), Ferguson Point (City of Vancouver) and Garrow Bay (Gleneagles). The illustration is of Glencoe in Argyll, Scotland.
- Akrigg, Philip and Akrigg, Helen (2005). Place Names of the Lower Mainland. (Discover Vancouver).
- Wikipedia - Vancouver Neighbourhoods.
- Greater Vancouver & Fraser Valley Atlas, 2005 (MapArt Publishing, Oshawa).
- James D Scarlett (1975). The Tartans of the Scottish Clans. (Collins, Glasgow and London).
- Room, Adrian (2003). The Penguin Dictionary of British Place Names. (Penguin Books, London).
- Websites, place name gazetteers and published Ordnance Survey maps of British and Irish cities, towns, villages and counties.
© Ian Kendall
Melbourne, Australia, March 2005
Revised February 2009
If you wish to contact Ian about his research, his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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