* Historically correct names for Canada

Got general Family History research questions - this is the place
Post Reply
User avatar
rwcrooks
Gold
Posts: 10
Joined: 19 Jul 2021 13:53
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Carolina, USA

Historically correct names for Canada

Post by rwcrooks » 30 Aug 2021 18:44

I’m trying to get my place names historically accurate. Does anyone know of a sort of simple reference that can help me figure out what names I should be using for Canada in different eras? It’s gone by New France, British North America, Province of Canada, among others.

Rich
Researching since 1976 (Crooks, Barron, Hutchens, Davidson from Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and Quebec)
Converting from Roots Magic.

User avatar
AdrianBruce
Megastar
Posts: 1325
Joined: 09 Aug 2003 21:02
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Cheshire
Contact:

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by AdrianBruce » 30 Aug 2021 22:26

Wikipedia - but it ain't simple! I have references to:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Confederation
(1867+) (Newfoundland was a separate colony, then a separate dominion until it pretty much ran out of cash). The British colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into one Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Province_of_Canada
(1841-1867) The two separate Colonies of Upper Canada and Lower Canada were merged into one colony in 1841. The Province of Canada was divided into two parts: Canada East (the area of Lower Canada) and Canada West (the area of Upper Canada).

Also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_North_America
BNA, so far as I can see, is not a country / colony but is rather a convenient description used, on several occasions, in different contexts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_France
New France can be regarded, in my view, as a country since it had a Viceroy. However, it needs to be remembered that Louisiana was part of New France, so that New France went from Hudson's Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. So New France's lands ended up in both Canada and the USA.

The way I encode the place names is that the last element is generally the Colony or Dominion name - thus "Middlesex County, Canada West, Province of Canada" - I only use the single name "Canada" for post-1867 names. From 1841-1867, the last element would be "Province of Canada". Before that it would be "Upper Canada" etc... And I guess "New Brunswick" would be the final part of the name in that area before 1867 - no mention of Canada at all.

That's what I like to do because it makes things look different and gives it that "We're not in Kansas any more" feel. Others will, I'm sure, stick "Canada" at the end of all their place names.
Adrian

User avatar
tatewise
Megastar
Posts: 22399
Joined: 25 May 2010 11:00
Family Historian: V7
Location: Torbay, Devon, UK
Contact:

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by tatewise » 31 Aug 2021 09:31

If you choose to use the historical Place names for Canada, do you want to geocode those Places as plots on a map?

If yes, then you need to consider the Standardized field of each Place record.
That allows you to enter the modern equivalent Place name of the historical Place.
Then the auto-geocoding will use the Standardized place name to find that Place on modern maps and determine the plot position Lat/Longitude.

Alternatively, you can manually position those historical Place names onto maps but that may be more tedious.

See the FHUG Knowledge Base Working with Places and Addresses.
Mike Tate ~ researching the Tate and Scott family history ~ tatewise ancestry

avatar
Peter Collier
Famous
Posts: 141
Joined: 04 Nov 2015 17:32
Family Historian: V7
Location: Worcestershire, UK

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by Peter Collier » 31 Aug 2021 09:32

As Adrian said, it's complicated!

Another thing to watch out for is that the boundaries of the provinces and territories have changed greatly over time. Most of the country was originally either part of Rupert's Land or the North-Western Territory, which were both controlled by the Hudson's Bay Company. These two regions passed to Canada in 1870 and united as the North-West Territories. Large chunks of NWT were then carved off over time either to form new provinces or districts/territories, or to expand existing ones. some parts of Ontario have only been in Ontario since 1912, for example.

Adrian gave some good links. You may also want to have a look at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territori ... _of_Canada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitut ... _of_Canada
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Former_co ... _in_Canada
Peter Collier

Collier, Savory, Buckerfield, Edmonds, Low, Dungey, Lester, Chambers, Walshe, Moylan, Bradley, Connors, Udale, Wilson, Benfield, Downey

User avatar
rwcrooks
Gold
Posts: 10
Joined: 19 Jul 2021 13:53
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Carolina, USA

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by rwcrooks » 07 Sep 2021 17:07

Thanks everyone.

Mike, thank you for the tip on standardized place names.

Rich
Researching since 1976 (Crooks, Barron, Hutchens, Davidson from Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and Quebec)
Converting from Roots Magic.

User avatar
rwcrooks
Gold
Posts: 10
Joined: 19 Jul 2021 13:53
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Carolina, USA

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by rwcrooks » 20 Sep 2021 21:08

Adrian,
This matter is pretty complicated with very little authoritative information. I’ve been trying to piece together a timeline. I would appreciate any and all input on this.

So if I have a city, Chatham, in Kent county, Ontario, I would enter it as

Chatham, Kent, Ontario, Canada for anything after 1 July 1867.
Chatham, Kent, Canada West, Province of Canada between 1841 and 1867.
Chatham, Kent, Upper Canada, [possibly British North America] between 1783 and 1841.
Chatham, [not sure about county structure],Province of Quebec, [possibly British North America] between 1763 and 1783.
Chatham, [not sure about county structure], Canada, New France between 1608 and 1763.

Apparently Canada, New France was further divided into 3 areas, each with its own government.

And I realize that Chatham and Kent county did not exist for this entire timeframe and county boundaries changed, but I was trying to present a simple example.

My brain hurts.
Thanks,
Rich
Researching since 1976 (Crooks, Barron, Hutchens, Davidson from Scotland, Cornwall, Ireland and Quebec)
Converting from Roots Magic.

User avatar
mjashby
Megastar
Posts: 611
Joined: 23 Oct 2004 10:45
Family Historian: V7
Location: Yorkshire

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by mjashby » 20 Sep 2021 22:34

I suppose my initial comment would be that one needs to take into account when identifying named places when they would first have had a recognised existence as a named locality/settlement; e.g. it appears that Chatham in "Canada" first came into a named existence in the 1790's, as a British naval base/military settlement. So it couldn't have existed as a recognised settlement using that name prior to the 1790's; and certainly not when the area was under French control :!:

It was seemingly named after one of two 18th century British statesmen and politicians. - Looking at the various online sources, there seems to be some confusion about whether this was William Pitt the Elder (1708-1788), the 1st Earl of Chatham (in Kent, England - an important naval base); or his son, William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806), but most probably the father as William Pitt the Younger, as a second son, did not inherit his father's title.

Mervyn.

User avatar
AdrianBruce
Megastar
Posts: 1325
Joined: 09 Aug 2003 21:02
Family Historian: V7
Location: South Cheshire
Contact:

Re: Historically correct names for Canada

Post by AdrianBruce » 21 Sep 2021 15:15

Yes, it does get a bit flakey the further you go back... (At least part of the flakiness comes from the different meanings of the word "Canada".) In general I would be happy with what you propose.

1) One stylistic comment - I seem to record Canadian counties with "County" as part of the name. I do this because I have no certainty whether there is, or isn't, any possibility for confusion if I don't use the "County" term. Certainly I have "York township, York County, Ontario, Canada" - York being a predecessor to Toronto - so I might end up with "York, York, Ontario, Canada" if I didn't use "County" and I seriously dislike internal repeats like that. (My only reason for saying "York township" rather than "York" was that I wasn't sure whether my source was referring to the settlement (York) or a wider area (York township) ).

(I don't do it for British counties - apart from County Durham - since there is no confusion)

2) Just "Chatham, Kent, Upper Canada" works for me for 1763-1783.

3) For New France, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canada_(New_France) has some useful bits - "Canada was the most developed of the five colonies of New France. It was divided into three districts, Québec, Trois-Rivières, and Montreal, each with its own government" might help with subdivisions. I guess these are your 3 areas, so I'd probably use those as county-equivalents....

(For completeness if anyone else is interested, "The other four colonies within New France were Hudson's Bay to the north, Acadia and Newfoundland to the east, and Louisiana far to the south")

I suspect that, back that far, there comes a point when, unless your sources mention them, subdivisions between the settlement and "Canada" don't help a lot.
Adrian

Post Reply