The Origins Of Place Names Around Vermilion Alberta

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Have you ever wondered about the names of the communities around Vermilion? How did those communities get their names? What made one name stick and stand the test of time, while other names faded away in history?
In this column, let’s look at the names of the places we all know, and how they came to get those names.
Vermilion: Originally called Breage after a village in England, the town now takes its name from the Vermilion River that it is situated on. As for the river, its name comes from the Cree word of wiyaman.
Mannville: This community gets its name thanks to CNR agents Davidson and McRae, who named the community in honour of Sir Donald Mann. Donald Mann, who was knighted in 1911, was one of the founders of the Canadian National Railway.
Kitscoty: This community was born in 1907 when a post office with its name was opened. The name of the community comes from a town in Kent, England. That town in England gets its name from Kit’s Coty House a point in the northern part of Kent.
Islay: As with many communities in Canada, the name for Islay comes from a community in the United Kingdom. Named by the Gilchrist family, who came over from Ontario, they named it in honour of their original home of Islay, Scotland.
Rusylvia: One of the more unique names in the area, the community gets its name from the Latin word for “wooded country”.
Dewberry: The name for this community comes thanks to a pioneer woman who walked into the local store with a bucket of dewberries and suggested it as the name of the community.
Marwayne: One of the early settlers to the area was the Marfleet family, who came over from Wainfleet, England. To come up with the name for the community, they combined the first syllable of their family name with the second syllable of their original home community.
Minburn: This community was started by the Canadian Northern Railway and it is named for Mina Burns, a writer of western articles for magazine who lived in Ottawa at the time.
Innisfree: This community was once called Delnorte, but the name change came about thanks to Sir Edmund Walker, who was the president of the Canadian Bank of Commerce at the time. He said that the area around the community reminded him of his home along Lake Simcoe outside Toronto. He said that if the residents changed the name, he would build a bank there. The name itself means “healthy island”.
Suggestions for columns or questions? E-mail Craig at Listen to his podcast by searching for “Canadian History Ehx” on your podcast platform. Find his show on YouTube by searching for “Canadian History Ehx”.
Information for this column comes from Place Names of Alberta: Volume III: Central Alberta.
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