"Pleasing everyone - an impossibility", Sault Star, 1979
Publication:
The Sault Star, Feb 10, 1979


Description
Full Text
Pleasing everyone—an impossibility

Pleasing the majority of people is one thing, but pleasing everyone is an impossibility as names researchers found out with a well-known lake in Day Township. Attention was focused on the lake in Homer Foster's column of last July 17.

Reporting on geographic name changes he commented, "Of course, the name change which caused the biggest foofaraw in the Thessalon area was that of Basswood Lake to Wakwekobi. This occurred on government maps a number of years ago.

By now, virtually all tourist literature has been converted to Wakwekobi and even the resort operators have had to give in because government literature uses Wakwekobi and to keep Basswood would just confuse visitors. People in the area, however, continue to call it Basswood Lake, it's been Basswood Lake for many, many years and I suspect it will stay Basswood so far as residents there are concerned for many, many more".

In actual fact, the provincial government did the opposite. The lake first began to show up as Wakwekobi on maps dating back as far as 1855. The name was made official in 1910. Later reports from area foresters and other residents persuaded names authorities to change Wakwekobi — though not without some hesitation at forfeiting a distinctive Indian name — first to Big Basswood Lake in 1961 and then after further local study to Basswood Lake in 1970.

Official maps have reflected these changes over the years. But as Northern Ontario toponymist Debbie Cunningham ruefully admits "This was strictly a no-win situation! Our files show that a reporter from the Port Arthur News-Chronicle was not impressed with the name Basswood when it first appeared and lost no time in blaming the Government for its appearance."

In an article entitled, The Name-Changers at Work, appearing in that paper in the mid 1950s and reprinted in The Ottawa Journal the reporter described the shock experienced during a return trip to the Thessalon area of finding that not only had the general scenery changed over the years but even the lake and stream names. The reporter cited Wakwekobi in particular. "Someone, probably a disciple of the principle of ease, thinks it would look better spelled Basswood and for purposes of distinction there could be a Big Basswood and Little Basswood . . . Even if some civil servants prefer names that are easier to spell and remember, some of the old ones have their qualities too."

According to the Names Board, people tend to regard names personally, so when a feature is known by more than one name, each will have its own supporters, making it impossible to please both groups.

The 'damned if we do and damned if we don't' feeling that momentarily pervades Nomenclature staff when faced with this type of situation can be very frustrating. It never, however, dampens their enthusiasm. Instead they've long since come to regard it as one of the 'hazards' of the job.



Basswood or Wakweboki—take your choice

Media Type:
Text
Image
Item Type:
Clippings
Description:
This is newspaper clipping which outlines the difficulty of pleasing everyone when naming lakes. In particular, the article focuses on the confusion between locally known names versus official names on maps. It highlights the controversy surrounding the use of Basswood or Wakweboki names.
Notes:
The accompanying cartoon shows two people separated by a forest with each putting up a sign for the same lake beside them with one sign reading Wakwekobi Lake while the other reads Basswood. The caption underneath reads "Basswood or Wakweboki - take your choice."
Place of Publication:
Sault Ste. Marie,ON
Date of Original:
Feb 10, 1979
Subject(s):
Collection:
Local history
Language of Item:
English
Geographic Coverage:
  • Ontario, Canada
    Latitude: 46.25006 Longitude: -83.5666
Copyright Statement:
Protected by copyright: Uses other than research or private study require the permission of the rightsholder(s). Responsibility for obtaining permissions and for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Contact
Thessalon Union Public Library
Email
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

187 Main St. Box 549

Thessalon, ON P0R 1L0

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"Pleasing everyone - an impossibility", Sault Star, 1979


This is newspaper clipping which outlines the difficulty of pleasing everyone when naming lakes. In particular, the article focuses on the confusion between locally known names versus official names on maps. It highlights the controversy surrounding the use of Basswood or Wakweboki names.