Ontario Lake Naming

The names given to lakes throughout Ontario’s cottage country tell us a story about the important people, places and events that have shaped our history. Aboriginal traditions of hunting and fishing, early surveyors, trapping, logging and even politics have played significant roles in the names of our lakes. Just as in the past, these bodies of water continue to play significant role in the tourism industry.

Here are some examples of Ontario lakes and how they arrived at their current official names.

Kennisis Lake was named by a European (Aboriginals did not typically name lakes after people) to reflect the story of an Aboriginal man named Joe Kennisis whose family lived on it’s shores for 5 generations.

Lake of Bays was originally called ‘the forked lake’ or ‘lake of forks’ (from the aboriginal Nagatoagomon Lake) was renamed Lake of Bays in 1853 by Alexander Murray, a Scottish born surveyor. Murray was also responsible for naming Oxtongue Lake (named for its ‘oxtongue-like’ shape), Canoe Lake (where he built a canoe), Mary, Fairy and Peninsula Lakes.

Boshkung Lake is an Aboriginal word commonly translated into ‘three waters’ or ‘meeting of the waters’.

Lake Kashagawigamog translates into ‘Lake of Shining Waters’ or ‘Lake of Long and Winding Waters’.

Kawagama Lake comes from a Cree word and means ‘the lake where wood is cut, the hewn lake’

There is an interesting folk tale that persists to explain how Halls Lake was named. White trappers and Aboriginal people sometimes had a less than friendly relationship. Apparently, a trapper named Hall was camping by the shore of what is now Hall’s Lake, had a disagreement with a band of passing Aboriginals and was murdered by them. White men that learned of his fate named the lake in his memory.

Baptiste Lake is a large, beautiful lake located in Herschel township, Bancroft. The lake has had a few different names throughout it’s history.  Kaijick Manitou, Loon Lake, Long Lake, and then finally was named Baptiste Lake after Cheif Jean Baptiste, whose family is believed to be the first original residents of the area.

The name "Scugog" may be an Ojibwe word meaning "marshy waters". However, according to Place Names of Ontario by Alan Rayburn, Scugog is a Mississauga word meaning 'waves leap over a canoe' in reference, perhaps, to the flooding of the river valley, or, more likely, the quickness that waves can be whipped up in winds, owing to its shallowness.

Located between the Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton Highlands regions of Ontario, Eels Lake is named after Eel Cow, an Ojibwe chieftain who claimed this area and surrounding land as his family's hunting and fishing territory in the early 1800s.

Paudash Lake was named after Chief George Paudash, a Crane-doodem (clan) member of the Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians of the Hiawatha Reserve of Rice Lake. The immediate area was first settled by pioneer families in the early 1870s. One of the original families, the McGillivray's, are still part of the Paudash Lake community.

The name Muskoka is thought to come from the name of a Chippewa tribe chief named Mesqua Ukee which means "not easily turned back in the day of battle".

Lake Simcoe is the fourth-largest lake in the province, after Lake Nipigon, Lac Seul, and Lake Nipissing. At the time of the first European contact in the 17th century the lake was called Ouentironk ("Beautiful Water") by the Wyandot (Huron) people. It was also known as Lake Toronto until it was renamed by John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, in memory of his father, Captain John Simcoe, Royal Navy.

It appears that Buckhorn Lake acquired its name as a consequence of its shape, appearing similar in shape to a buck's head with antlers or horns projecting either side, being Pigeon and Chemong Lakes.

Think of the great story you will be able to tell your friends and family while gathered around the campfire on a Saturday night after a great day spent enjoying the lake.  We have cottages on many of these Lakes in our inventory, perhaps the original name will “speak to you”, and you will wish to spend a great summer week at one of them!!!  Feel free to contact us if you would like to reserve a week on one of these terrific lakes!