v. to call or distinguish by a specified title or descirptive epithet; to describe, recognize, or acknowledge as

n. a proper noun. a word or phrase constituting the individual designation by which a particular person or thing is known, referred to, or addressed

[adapted from the OED]

 Marked here

on this bend among so many –

the only city in a thousand miles of river.

[Alice Major, “Contemplating the City”]


A city needs three names – the public one, the priestly,

and a secret, sacred name

for the god we do not realize protects us.

Edmonton. A public name, polite gesture

to mother country, mother company.


The palisaded fort in wilderness

named for a suburb of London, birthplace

of an aide-de-camp in the enterprise

that piled fur and profit at the feet

of the gentlemen adventurers of Hudson’s Bay.

For a time, this outpost had another name –

Fort Sanspareil. An unusual flight of fancy

for round John Rowand, the ‘most pushing, bustling

man in the service,’ chief factor

who turned profits like a card trick,

and whose bones were boiled bare

and shipped home in a rum barrel

for burial in Montreal.


Sanspareil. a name from the coureurs de bois,

from the tongue of the missionary priests

who strung their rosary across the praries

and into the dark pine woods.


Into the aching dusk

Coyote cries again.


We hear but do not recognize

our secret name.

[Alice Major, “Contemplating the City”]



The Bay. In October 1795 the Company of Adventurers Trading into Hudson Bay built Edmonton House – open for fur-trading business with seven great Indian nations, the Assiniboine and Cree who lived nearby all the time, and the Blackfoot, Sarcee, Gros Ventres, Peigans, and Blood, who came twice a year – and Edmonton has been a place name on maps ever since. But the Hudson’s Bay Company Post lives on now only in replica at Fort Edmonton Park, miles upstream from its original site. And, by the time I was growing up, “The Bay” denoted the big department store at Jasper Avenue and 103rd street. Now it’s an emptied shell and The Bay is a stop on the LRT route, ghostly signage flashing past our incurious gaze.

[page 12, Edmonton on Location]



Name may include: cross on the hill, inauguration of Alberta with Edmonton as capital, burial grounds, makeshift memorial, official commemoration site

Thoughts on Form

Could we model the text format after an entry in a Baby Name book?


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