What is in a Name?


When you stop to think about it, we take for granted where we live. It is rare for us to place where it is that we are in relation to the rest of the world.

So, exactly where are we? We can start with the western hemisphere, the northern half of the continent of North America, Canada to be exact. The general consensus is that the name Canada comes from the name “Kanata”. This name is said to come into use following an interaction between the famed explorer, Jacques Cartier and two First Nations youths. They are purported to have told him about the way to Kanata. Kanata meant village and referred to the village of Stadacona. Quebec City now occupies that area. By 1547, the name Canada grew to be applied to all the area north of the St. Lawrence River.


1641 marks the earliest time that the name Ontario was recorded. Again, we have the First Nations to thank. There are two schools of thought on the name. Skanadario, an Iroquoian word, translates to “beautiful or sparkling water” and referred to the land north of the eastern most Great Lake. The second school of thought give credit to the Huron (Wyandot) word Ontari:io meaning “great lake”.

1791 saw the creation of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, making the use of “Canada” official. The British enacted a constitutional act that officially made Ontario the land upstream from the St. Lawrence, hence, Upper Canada and Quebec the land downstream, hence Lower Canada. Confederation in 1867 renamed the areas as the Province of Ontario and the Province of Quebec.


Ontario was divided into districts. In the late 16th Century, as the United Empire Loyalists began to arrive, this part of Ontario was known as the Nassau District, then renamed the Home District. 1816 was the creation of Halton County, which at that time was part of the Gore District. The name Halton County is a tribute to Major William Matthew Halton. Major Halton was the Secretary to the Upper Canada Province under Lieutenant-Governor Sir Francis Gore. It is interesting to note that Major Halton spent the majority of his time in England. He served two terms as Secretary, one from 1806 to 1811 and the second from 1815 to 1816. The naming of the county in his honour speaks to the esteem in which he was held by Gore.


Halton was divided into 4 townships; Trafalgar, Esquesing, Nassagawaya and Nelson. Nelson and Trafalgar were the first two to be opened up in 1806. The other two followed in 1819. Nelson was named in honour of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson. Nelson was a British officer in the Royal Navy. In 1805 he and the British navy were victorious at the Battle of Trafalgar, fought off of the Cape of Trafalgar, Spain. The price he paid for victory was a large one as he succumbed to being fatally shot. His ship, HMS Victory was heavily battered and was almost disabled.


The village of Kilbride was named for a village located in the home country of William Panton and Francis Baker. Both families were friends and would spend time together at the Baker summer home, Kilbride House located in County Wicklow, south west of Dublin. These fond memories lead to the name Kilbride being used for the newly laid out village in Nelson Township and speak to the bond of the Panton and Baker families both in Ireland and in Canada.

The following description was provided by Anne Ptolomy’s brother, John Kilgore who still lives in Ireland. Both John and Anne are descendants of Francis Baker.

Manor Kilbride, as it is known, is about 19 miles to the south of Dublin on the northern edge of the Dublin/Wicklow Mountains overlooking the city. It is really a hamlet rather than a village with a group of houses scattered among the trees, and, with the growth of the city, has become a desirable place to live.

Blessington is several miles away and has a population of about 4,000 and a selection of shops etc.

Crosscoolharbour is, really, just a stretch of road leading out of Blessington and is an area of farms. It is near a lovely area where many years ago a lake was created which acts as a reservoir for Dublin City as well as a place to learn to sail.

The following are good resources for further reading:

McDonald, John, Halton’s Heritage William Halton and Halton County, Milton, Halton Sketches Publishing, 2011

Government of Canada

Contributing Author: Helen Callaway