The Most Popular Canadian Names in 2014 by Province and Territory

Since I reported the most popular Canadian names in 2013 (by province and territory), it has been one of my most popular posts. I’m happy to update that report with 2014 popularity data, provided by Today’s Parent.com.

Here are the top-20 baby names for boys and girls in: Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, the popularity data available for Northwest Territories,  Prince Edward Island, and Yukon Territories was less complete; and I was unable to obtain any data for Nunavut.

I think it will be helpful if I use one asterisk to indicate names that were only popular in one province or territory in 2014 and two asterisks to indicate names that were popular in two provinces or territories. This will quickly enable you to spot names that are broadly popular throughout Canada and names whose popularity is limited to one or two provinces and territories.

Baby Names Whose Popularity was Limited to One Province or Territory:

Quebec: There were 21 baby names which were only popular in Quebec. Girls’ names more popular in Quebec than in the rest of Canada include French names: Juliette and Camille; prototypical English Names: Victoria and Alice; gender-neutral names: Charlie and Laurence; and names spelled differently than in other provinces: Lea (instead of Leah) and Zoe (instead of Zoey). Boy’s names popular in Quebec that are not as popular in the rest of Canada include: Alexis, Felix, Emile, Charles, Adam and Leo.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Names more popular in Newfoundland and Labrador (than in the rest of Canada) included Parker, Landon, Ryan, Kayden and Chase for boys; Allie,  Sarah, and Anna for girls.

Saskatchewan: Names more popular in Saskatchewan (than in the rest of Canada) included both Jase and Bentley for boys; Brielle, Sabella and Aubrey for girls.

Yukon Territory: Names more popular in the Yukon Territory (than in the rest of Canada) included: Connor, Declan, Everett, Flynn, Nolan and Sawyer for boys; and Alexa, Julia and Kaylee for girls.

Nova Scotia: Names that were more  popular in Nova Scotia (than in the rest of Canada) included Jaxson for boys; and Claire for girls.

British Columbia: Girls’ names that were more popular in British Columbia (than in the rest of Canada) included Natalie and Scarlett.

Manitoba: Grayson is a boys’ name that was more popular in Manitoba (than in the rest of Canada).

New Brunswick: Caleb is a boys’ name that was more popular in New Brunswick (than in the rest of Canada).

Ottawa: All the top-20 names for boys and girls were also popular in three or more other provinces and territories.

Alberta: All the top-20 names for boys and girls were also popular in three or more other provinces and territories.

Alberta

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Lucas
  3. Ethan
  4. Noah
  5. Logan
  6. Benjamin
  7. William
  8. Jacob
  9. Mason
  10. Carter
  11. Alexander
  12. Jack
  13. Nathan
  14. Samuel
  15. Owen
  16. Oliver
  17. Hunter
  18. Jackson
  19. James
  20. Jaxon

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Emily
  4. Sophia
  5. Ava
  6. Avery
  7. Abigail
  8. Charlotte
  9. Chloe
  10. Lily
  11. Ella
  12. Isabella
  13. Hannah
  14. Amelia
  15. Brooklyn
  16. Madison
  17. Sadie
  18. Grace
  19. Mia
  20. Elizabeth

British Columbia

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Mason
  3. Ethan
  4. Lucas
  5. Benjamin
  6. Logan
  7. William
  8. Alexander
  9. Oliver
  10. Noah
  11. James
  12. Jacob
  13. Owen
  14. Jack
  15. Nathan
  16. Carter
  17. Daniel
  18. Hunter
  19. Jackson
  20. Jayden

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Sophia
  4. Emily
  5. Ava
  6. Chloe
  7. Charlotte
  8. Ella
  9. Avery
  10. Hannah
  11. Isla**
  12. Isabella
  13. Amelia
  14. Lily
  15. Abigail
  16. Mia
  17. Elizabeth
  18. Aria*
  19. Sophie
  20. Brooklyn

Manitoba

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Noah
  3. Logan
  4. Ethan
  5. Mason
  6. Jacob
  7. James
  8. Lucas
  9. Benjamin
  10. Jackson
  11. Nathan
  12. Hunter
  13. Owen
  14. Alexander
  15. Jack
  16. Oliver
  17. Luke
  18. Carter
  19. William
  20. Grayson*

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Sophia
  4. Emily
  5. Ava
  6. Chloe
  7. Avery
  8. Abigail
  9. Isabella
  10. Madison
  11. Sophie
  12. Hannah
  13. Sadie
  14. Zoey**
  15. Leah
  16. Natalie*
  17. Mia
  18. Charlotte
  19. Anna
  20. Scarlett*

New Brunswick

Boys

  1. Jacob
  2. Liam
  3. William
  4. Noah
  5. Carter
  6. Logan
  7. Benjamin
  8. Jackson
  9. Owen
  10. Alexander
  11. Hunter
  12. Mason
  13. Jackson
  14. Thomas
  15. Caleb*
  16. Lucas
  17. Ethan
  18. Xavier**
  19. Jace**
  20. James

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Charlotte
  4. Sophie
  5. Abigail
  6. Sadie
  7. Sophia
  8. Emily
  9. Ava
  10. Ella
  11. Lily
  12. Mia
  13. Addison
  14. Avery
  15. Madison
  16. Grace
  17. Brooklyn
  18. Chloe
  19. Isabelle
  20. Leah

Newfoundland and Labrador

Boys

  1. Jackson
  2. Jack
  3. Liam
  4. Owen
  5. William
  6. Carter
  7. Chase
  8. Ryan
  9. Aidan/Aiden**
  10. Benjamin
  11. Luke
  12. Nathan
  13. Ryder**
  14. Mason
  15. Noah
  16. Parker*
  17. Landon*
  18. Alexander
  19. Ethan
  20. Kayden*

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Sofia/Sophia
  3. Ava
  4. Emily
  5. Lily
  6. Avery
  7. Chloe
  8. Olivia
  9. Hailey**
  10. Sarah**
  11. Sofie/Sophie
  12. Peyton**
  13. Abigail
  14. Ella
  15. Allie
  16. Brooklyn
  17. Madison
  18. Anna**
  19. Lauren*
  20. Addison/Addyson

Northwest Territories

Boys

  1. William

Girls

  1. Ava

This is the only data that is available.

Nova Scotia

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. William
  3. Benjamin
  4. Owen
  5. Hunter
  6. Lucas
  7. Carter
  8. Ethan
  9. Jacob
  10. Jackson
  11. Oliver
  12. Mason
  13. Jack
  14. Alexander
  15. James
  16. Luke
  17. Noah
  18. Gabriel**
  19. Henry**
  20. Jaxson*

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Olivia
  3. Ava
  4. Sadie
  5. Sophia
  6. Lily
  7. Abigail
  8. Brooklyn
  9. Ella
  10. Chloe
  11. Charlotte
  12. Emily
  13. Alexis*
  14. Isabella
  15. Claire*
  16. Hannah
  17. Amelia
  18. Peyton**
  19. Sarah**
  20. Avery

Ontario

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Lucas
  3. Ethan
  4. Noah
  5. Logan
  6. Benjamin
  7. William
  8. Jacob
  9. Mason
  10. Carter
  11. Alexander
  12. Jack
  13. Nathan
  14. Samuel
  15. Owen
  16. Oliver
  17. Hunter
  18. Jackson
  19. James
  20. Jaxon

Girls

  1. Olivia
  2. Emma
  3. Emily
  4. Sophia
  5. Ava
  6. Avery
  7. Abigail
  8. Charlotte
  9. Chloe
  10. Lily
  11. Ella
  12. Isabella
  13. Hannah
  14. Amelia
  15. Brooklyn
  16. Madison
  17. Sadie
  18. Grace
  19. Mia
  20. Elizabeth

Prince Edward Island

Boys

  1. Jack
  2. Oliver
  3. Owen
  4. Mason
  5. William
  6. Henry**
  7. Noah

Girls

  1. Anna**
  2. Mya*
  3. Emma
  4. Ellie*
  5. Lily
  6. Charlotte
  7. Ava
  8. Chloe
  9. Olivia
  10. Mia

This is the only data that is available.

Quebec

Boys

  1. William
  2. Nathan
  3. Samuel
  4. Alexis*
  5. Olivier*
  6. Felix*
  7. Thomas**
  8. Liam
  9. Jacob
  10. Gabriel**
  11. Antoine*
  12. Logan
  13. Raphael*
  14. Noah
  15. Xavier**
  16. Benjamin
  17. Emile*
  18. Charles*
  19. Adam*
  20. Leo*

Girls

  1. Lea*
  2. Emma
  3. Olivia
  4. Florence*
  5. Alice*
  6. Zoe*
  7. Rosalie*
  8. Juliette*
  9. Charlie*
  10. Chloe
  11. Charlotte
  12. Sofia
  13. Jade*
  14. Mia
  15. Eva*
  16. Camille*
  17. Victoria*
  18. Anais*
  19. Beatrice*
  20. Laurence*

Saskatchewan

Boys

  1. Liam
  2. Carter
  3. Noah
  4. Lucas
  5. Ethan
  6. Jacob
  7. Mason
  8. William
  9. Owen
  10. Jace**
  11. Alexander
  12. Jaxon
  13. Bentley*
  14. Benjamin
  15. Jase*
  16. Logan
  17. Hudson
  18. Ryder**
  19. Hunter
  20. Samuel

Girls

  1. Emma
  2. Sophia
  3. Emily
  4. Olivia
  5. Lily
  6. Ava
  7. Brooklyn
  8. Zoey**
  9. Brielle*
  10. Avery
  11. Grace
  12. Hannah
  13. Mia
  14. Hailey**
  15. Sabella*
  16. Aubrey*
  17. Ella
  18. Abigail
  19. Sadie
  20. Chloe

Yukon Territories

Boys

  1. Benjamin
  2. William
  3. Aiden
  4. Alexander
  5. Conner*
  6. Declan*
  7. Duncan*
  8. Everett*
  9. Flynn*
  10. Jack
  11. Luke
  12. Nolan*
  13. Patrick
  14. Samuel
  15. Sawyer*
  16. Thomas**

Girls

  1. Kaylee*
  2. Julia*
  3. Isla**
  4. Hannah
  5. Emma
  6. Avery
  7. Ava
  8. Alexa*
  9. Grace
  10. Olivia

This is the only data that is available.

Nunavut

No data was available for Nunavut.

The Most Popular Canadian Names in 2013 by Province and Territory

Before a recent CBC radio interview in the Maritime provinces, I did some research to find the most popular baby names in as many Canadian provinces and territories as possible. I discovered the most popular names in 2013 for every province and territory but Prince Edward Island and the Nunavut Territory. Although I didn’t get any questions about the popularity of baby names from my radio audience, I hope you will find the information to be of interest.

To enhance your interest, I have tried to call your attention to names that are ranked among the top 20 boys’ or girls’ names in only one province or territory. I will leave you the task of figuring out why certain names were more popular in particular provinces and territories.

-Alberta: The only province or territory to include Joshua among the top-20 boys’ names.

-Manitoba: The only province or territory to include Jayden among the top-20 boys’ names.

-New Brunswick: The only province or territory to include Alex and Dylan among the top-20 boys’ names and Jayden, Audrey and Annabelle among the top-20 girls’ names.

-Newfoundland and Labrador: The only province or territory to include Cameron and Jaden among the top-20 boys’ names.

-Northwest Territories: The only province or territory to include Nicholas and Joseph among the most popular boy’s names and Neveah and Ayla among the most popular girls’ names.

-Nova Scotia: The only province or territory to include Lillian and among the top-20 girls’ names.

-Quebec: The only province or territory to include Olivier, Felix, Raphael, Antoine, Emile, Mathis, Adam and Justin among the top-20 boys’ names; and Florence, Alice, Rosalie, Juliette, Camille, Laurence, Charlie, Jade, Alicia, Anais, Maelie, Beatrice and Eva among the top-20 girls’ names.

-Saskatchewan: The only province or territory to include Dominic, Blake, Ryder and Bentley among the top-20 boys’ names and Elizabeth, Aubree, Aubrey, Brielle and Harper among the top-20 girls’ names.

-Yukon Territories: The only province or territory that included Aaron and Eli in the boys’ top-5 names and Molly in the girls top-5 names.

(Note, I’ve italicized the names I’ve just mentioned on each list so you don’t have to keep scrolling up and down to find them.)

Alberta: Top-20 Boy’s and Girls Names

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Emma

2. Ethan         2. Olivia

3. Jacob         3. Emily

4. Logan         4. Sophia

5. Mason        5. Ava

6. Benjamin   6. Ella

7. Lucas         7. Isabella

8. Alexander  8. Lily

9. Carter        9. Abigail

10. Noah        10. Chloe

11. Nathan     11. Avery

12. Jaxon       12. Hannah

13. William    13. Sophie

14. Samuel    14. Brooklyn

15. Owen       15. Grace

16. Daniel      16. Madison

17. Hunter     17. Hailey

18. Joshua     18. Amelia

19. Jackson   19. Charlotte

20. James      20. Sarah

British Columbia Top-20 Boys’ and Girl’s Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Ethan         1. Olivia

2. Liam           2. Emma

3. Lucas         3. Sophia

4. Mason        4. Emily

5. Logan         5. Ava

6. Noah          6. Ella

7. Alexander  7. Chloe

8. Benjamin   8. Isabella

9. Jacob         9. Avery

10. Jack         10. Hannah

11. Owen       11. Sophie

12. Ryan        12. Abigail

13. Daniel      13. Charlotte

14. Oliver       14. Lily

15. James      15. Brooklyn

16. Nathan     16. Madison

17. Jayden     17. Isla

18. Samuel    18. Grace

19. Matthew  19. Maya

20. William    20. Amelia

Manitoba Top-20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Emily

2. Ethan         2. Emma

3. Lucas         3. Sophia

4. Jacob         4. Olivia

5. Alexander  5. Ava

6. Mason        6. Hannah

7. Logan         7. Chloe

8. Benjamin   8. Zoey

9. William      9. Sadie

10. Noah        10. Sophie

11. Carter      11. Brooklyn

12. Owen       12. Ella

13. Nathan     13. Isabella

14. Jackson   14. Abigail

15. Samuel    15. Madison

16. Jayden     16. Mia

17. Hunter     17. Hailey

18. Michael   18. Leah

19. Parker      19. Avery

20. Jaxon       20. Sarah

 

New Brunswick Top-20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Olivia

2. Noah          2. Emma

3. Jacob         3. Sophia

4. William      4. Lily

5. Samuel      5. Sophie

6. Benjamin   6. Abigail

7. Lucas         7. Ava

8. Alexis         8. Chloe

9. Logan         9. Jayden

10. Mason     10. Mia

11. Owen       11. Claire

12. Carter      12. Charlotte

13. Dylan       13. Emily

14. Gabriel    14. Hannah

15. Alex          15. Isabella

16. Ethan       16. Madison

17. James      17. Brooklyn

18. Nathan     18. Audrey

19. Xavier      19. Zoey

20. Jaxon       20. Annabelle

Newfoundland and Labrador Top 20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Jaxon         1. Ava

2. Carter        2. Emma

3. Liam           3. Emily

4. Jacob         4. Lily

5. Benjamin   5. Sophia

6. Ethan         6. Sara/Sarah

7. Aidan/Aiden 7. Abigail

8. Mason        8. Peyton

9. Jack           9. Avery

10. Logan      10. Claire

11. William    11. Madison

12. Noah        12. Sophie

13. Owen       13. Zoey

14. Lucas       14. Isabella

15. James      15. Ella

16. Ryan        16. Brooklyn

17. Cameron 17. Charlotte

18. Jaden       18. Olivia

19. Luke         19. Lea(h)

20. Parker      20. Hailey

 

Northwest Territories Top-9 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys   Girls

1. Matthew    1. Emma

2. Jaxon         2. Isla

3. Nicholas    3. Brooklyn

4. Joseph       4. Harper

5. Jackson     5. Nevaeh

6. Zachary     6. Olivia

7. Thomas     7. Ayla

8. Jack           8. Ava

9. Noah          9. Addison

Nova Scotia Top-20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Olivia

2. Noah          2. Ava

3. Ethan         3. Emma

4. Hunter        4. Emily

5. Benjamin   5. Lily

6. Jack           6. Charlotte

7. Owen         7. Sadie

8. William      8. Ella

9. Carter        9. Chloe

10. Jackson   10. Sophia

11. Jacob       11. Amelia

12. Alexander 12. Isla

13. Luke         13. Addison

14. Oliver       14. Madison

15. Mason     15. Brooklyn

16. Lucas       16. Hannah

17. Jaxon       17. Lillian

18. Samuel    18. Claire

19. Logan      19. Grace

20. Nathan     20. Sophie

Ontario Top 20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Olivia

2. Ethan         2. Emma

3. Jacob         3. Sophia

4. Lucas         4. Ava

5. Benjamin   5. Emily

6. Noah          6. Isabella

7. William      7. Abigail

8. Nathan       8. Ella

9. Alexander  9. Charlotte

10. Owen       10. Chloe

11. Logan      11. Lily

12. Mason     12. Avery

13. Daniel      13. Mia

14. Jack         14. Sophie

15. Ryan        15. Grace

16. Joshua     16. Sofia

17. Jackson   17. Hannah

18. Michael   18. Victoria

19. Carter      19. Madison

20. Matthew  20. Maya

Quebec Top 20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names

Boys               Girls

1. William      1. Emma

2. Nathan       2. Lea

3. Olivier        3. Olivia

4. Alexis         4. Florence

5. Samuel      5. Alice

6. Gabriel      6. Zoe

7. Thomas     7. Rosalie

8. Jacob         8. Juliette

9. Felix           9. Camille

10. Raphael   10. Mia

11. Antoine    11. Laurence

12. Liam         12. Charlie

13. Noah        13. Jade

14. Benjamin 14. Alicia

15. Xavier      15. Anais

16. Emile       16. Victoria

17. Mathis     17. Maelie

18. Adam       18. Beatrice

19. Justin       19. Eva

20. Zachary   20. Chloe

Saskatchewan Top-20 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Emma

2. Ethan         2. Olivia

3. Carter        3. Ava

4. William      4. Emily

5. Mason        5. Brooklyn

6. Lucas         6. Lily

7. Noah          7. Sophia

8. Hudson      8. Abigail

9. Jacob         9. Ella

10. Owen       10. Sophie

11. Benjamin 11. Avery

12. Alexander12. Madison

13. Hunter     13. Elizabeth

14. Jack         14. Chloe

15. Ryder       15. Hailey

16. Dominic   16. Isabella

17. Aiden       17. Aubree

18. Blake       18. Aubrey

19. Logan      19. Brielle

20. Bentley    20. Harper

Yukon Territories Top 5 Boys’ and Girls’ Names:

Boys               Girls

1. Liam           1. Ava

2. Alexander  2. Charlotte

3. Eli               3. Hannah

4. William      4. Molly

5. Aaron         5. Sophie

Three Things That Surprised Me As I Reviewed the Data:

1)    There were only 3 French boy’s names (Olivier, Antoine and Emile) and 3 French girl’s  names (Camille, Juliette and Anais) among the top-20 names for boys and girls in Quebec. (I expected a lot more French names.)

2)    As an ex-New Yorker, I was surprised to discover that Brooklyn (one of the five boroughs of New York City) was listed as one of the most popular girls’ names in 9 of the 11 lists I provided for this post.

3)    In the U.S. Jayden was the #7 boy’s name in 2012. Jaden, an alternate variation, wasn’t listed among the top 100 boy’s names in the same year. However, Jayden was only among the top-20 boys’ names in Manitoba. And Jaden was among the top-20 boys’ names in Newfoundland and Labrador. Even more surprising was that Jayden was among the top-20 girls’ names in New Brunswick (it’s less popular as a girl’s name in the States). Finally Jade was among the top-20 girls’ names in Quebec–to further confuse the situation.

Twenty years ago, there weren’t many people named Jayden, Braden, Kayden, Zayden and all their rhyming variations. Then in the last 10 years or so, those names have grown like weeds and suddenly they are extremely popular throughout North America. In fact, a survey found that Jayden and it’s rhyming variations are also among the most hated names. Why? They rose in popularity so quickly, many people view them as ersatz names, interlopers, as it were. I think it’s fair to describe the Jayden rhyming group of names as a fad.

Another fad name that rose rapidly in popularity is Neveah (heaven spelled backwards). It is now the #5 most popular girls’ name in the Northwest territories. My feeling about the name is: if you like name Heaven, name your daughter Heaven. Spelling it backwards will create spelling and pronunciation problems for your daughter which makes the name more a source of annoyance than an inspiration to the girls who have to live with it.

In the States, Jayden and Neveah both seem to have peaked. Jayden fell from #4 to #7 (for boys) and Neveah fell from #35 to #39 for girls. People are starting to realize there’s less to those names then they’d thought.

To read my updated post which provides 2014 popularity data click here.

My Forty-Five Minutes on CBC’s Maritime News

“Back in the day,” I used to do 100 to 200 radio interviews a year on the subject of baby names. Our publicity department would sent out letters to radio talent coordinators informing them that listeners would “light up their switchboards” with calls to chat with me about their names. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now I’ve got a blog called BabyNamesInTheNews.com. When a talk-radio station wants some excitement, they call or email to set up an interview and then we have some fun.

Today I talked to Phonse Jessum of “Maritime Noon” on CBC. The show covers three eastern provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. After listening to the local Maritime news, it was time for CBC listeners to pepper me with questions either by Twitter or call-in.

The Tweeters and callers weren’t trying to stump me; they were mainly wondering how they wound up with the names they did. And, in return, I was interested in what they could tell me about the experience of living with their names, including any problems the name might have caused.

When I told Phonse Jessum his name was a nickname for Alphonse (a German name that means “noble and eager”) he told me his grandfather had been named Alphonse and that his name was very often misspelled, because of the popularity of Fonzie (played by Henry Winkler) on “Happy Days.”

A caller named Jerry asked about the female name Shallen. I couldn’t find that name and mentioned it was similar to “Made in America” names like Shalena (the prefix “sha” + “lena”) used by African-Americans. I asked him where he found the name. He said he’d found it while watching a sci-fi TV show; apparently Shallen was the name of an alien. He said it has worked well for his daughter.  We briefly discussed the risk of making up names (because it’s hard to predict whether they will make a favorable or unfavorable impression). But the reward is: when your child has a unique name that works well for him or her, it’s nice “plus” for the child and for the parents who found the unique and charming name.

A caller mentioned a child named Sabette. I looked it up and couldn’t find anything like it—except for Sabra (a Hebrew name that means “thorny cactus fruit” and refers to a woman born in Israel who is reputed to be tough on the outside and soft on the inside) and Sabrina (a Latin name that means ‘boundary line” and an English name that means “princess.” That triggered a recollection about “Sabrina,” a classic, black and white movie featuring Audrey Hepburn as the daughter of a chauffeur living on the estate of two wealthy brothers played by Humphrey Bogart (the tycoon) and William Holden (the playboy). Both brothers fell in love with Sabrina and Bogart ended up with Sabrina, having beaten his brother to the prize.

Phonse Jessum then passed on a comment that Sabette might be a native Canadian name–or a variation of Elizabeth. As I think about it, either of those speculations might make sense. I’m sure you know that Bette and Betty are common variations of Elizabeth. Adding a prefix of “Sa” would make the name more unique but still give the child Bette or Betty as a nickname to fall back on, if Sabette didn’t work well for the purpose intended.

Another name we discussed was Alea. It’s listed as an Arab name meaning “high or exalted” in my book or as a Persian name meaning “God’s being.” But it sounds exactly like the Hebrew name Aliya which means “ascender” and refers to being given the honor of reading from the bible in a religious observance.

This is how the conversation went—back and forth, eliciting humorous or (in the case of Shallen) heartwarming  stories about how callers got their names or how well people liked their names and what kind of problems those names might have caused.

Picking a name for a child is an important responsibility. The more you get into names, the more there is to talk about. Origin and meaning for sure. But what about the impression the name makes, the versatility of the name and what kind of problems the name could cause. If you’re going to be naming a baby anytime soon, you might find it worth your time to listen to a  podcast of the interview, which you can find on BabyNamesInTheNews.com. And if you’re a talk-radio talent coordinator, write info@meadowbrookpress.com if you’d like to set up a telephone interview which will “light up (or tie up) your switchboard.”

Looking for a Name with Canadian Roots? Try a Place Name

Note: Several years ago I wrote and published “The Very Best Canadian Name Book.” Naturally, it sells mostly in Canada. I wrote the article below for a Canadian website. I doubt if it’s ever been seen “south of the border,” but I’m sure there are millions of Americans who were born in Canada or who visit Canada and have a special feeling for the country. (Count me in the happy visitor category.)

If you’re looking for a name with Canadian “roots” for the baby you’re expecting (or the baby you hope to have someday), consider the idea of picking a Canadian “place name” (the name of a Canadian city or town, body of water, or mountain). Place names can provide an interesting (and patriotic) alternative to traditional “Jacob and Emma” names more commonly chosen by parents. To quickly find out if this idea appeals to you, browse through the list of Canadian place names I’ve provided below.

Cities or Towns

Girls: Brooks, Celista, Courtenay, Fernie, Joliette, Nicolet, Regina, Surrey; Boys: Brandon, Duncan, Dryden, Estevan, Merritt

Bays

Girls: McKenzie, Mercy; Boys: Burnett, Dawson, Hudson, Walker

Rivers

Girls: Alouette, Azure, Brunette, Nicola; Boys: Benson, Cameron, Fraser, Perry, Trent

Lakes

Girls: Lajoie; Boys: Decker, Duffey

Sounds

Girls: Sarita; Boys: Bond, Frederick, Owen, Parry

Mountains

Girls: Celeste, Garnet, Isabel, Luciana; Boys: Bryce, Forbes, Hector, Odin, Palmer, Steele, Temple, Thor

Now that you’ve looked over the list, if you like the idea of picking a Canadian place name but don’t see the perfect name for your child on the list, you might want to hunt down a Canadian road atlas to find a lot more names with Canadian geographic roots.

Let’s discuss some strategies for making a wise choice. It’s important to find the balance between a unique, out-of-the-ordinary name and a name that’s so different, it’ll make people wonder, What were they thinking? (That’s the reaction most people have when they look at a list of names selected by celebrities for their babies.) Notice that I overlooked some obvious place names, like Alberta (a province), and instead chose a number of out-of-the-ordinary names like Decker and Lajoie (lakes) as well as Bond and Sarita (sounds). These names are unusual, but can work well as a person’s name (in addition to being the name for a city or lake or mountain). They’ll reflect well on you for having made a savvy choice and will reflect well on your child because they’re likely to make a favorable impression on his or her behalf.

I left out certain Canadian places that wouldn’t work well—names that are unlikely to: come across as suitable for a person, reflect glory on the parent who selected the name, or make a positive first impression for the child. For example, it’s hard to imagine anyone naming their baby Moose Jaw or Medicine Hat—even an attention-craving celebrity.

You’ll need to keep in mind that you’re diving into the deep end of the “baby-name pool” when you consider names that are unlikely to rank among the 1,000 most popular names and which may rarely, if ever, have been used as names before. When you go outside the pool of popular baby names, it’s risky to base your decision solely on your own views and those of your spouse/partner or your extended family. You need to ask yourself (and others) what kind of first impression the names you’re considering will make. It helps to poll kids, young adults, and old-timers so you can quickly get beyond that small circle of friends or relatives who are dying to influence your baby-naming decision. Talk about the name with people you’ve just met as well as with people you’ve known for years. When you mention the names you have in mind, study your respondents’ body language. Are their tones of voice, facial expressions, and pupil sizes reinforcing or contradicting the words they’re saying?

If the responses you get are mostly positive (based on what people say and don’t say), you just might have accomplished what many parents fail to do: picking an appealing name that reflects your Canadian roots which you and your child will enjoy using every day.

© 2008 Bruce Lansky
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