This area of Canada is rather unimaginatively, and somewhat inappropriately, named. It was inappropriate in that until the creation of Nunavut in 1999, the Northwest Territories included huge swaths of land in Canada’s northeast.
The Northwest Territories were organized and formally named in 1870. Prior to this, the land was referred to informally as the Northwestern Territory. It was once much larger than it is today, including the provinces of Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nunavut, and parts of British Columbia.1
With the creation of Nunavut, there was discussion on renaming the territories but in the end Canada chose to retain the old name. But one of the more popular suggestions was to rename the territories ”Bob.” Promoted by a radio station, the name Bob generated considerable popular support, but, alas, was never seriously considered by the politicians.
1Alan Rayburn, Dictionary of Canadian Place Names (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 277.
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton