​​​​​​​​​​Linguistic Treatment of French Geographic Names in Ontario

Principles and Procedures

0. Preamble

Under the Ontario Geographic Names Board Act, the Ontario Geographic Names Board (OGNB) reports to the Legislature through the Minister of Natural Resources. The OGNB is the sole statutory authority in Ontario vested with the responsibility for recording, processing and recommending to the Minister for adoption the names of geographic entities including extents of same for official use.

The provincial toponymic database maintained by Provincial Georeferencing, Geographic Information Infrastructure, Information Resource Management Branch, Ministry of Natural Resources, is, under the OGNB Act, the official repository of geographic names in Ontario. As official record, the database contains all geographic names approved for use in government produced maps, charts, gazetteers, signage, and similar publications and applications of Ontario, with pertinent coordinate information (geographic, UTM, etc.). Names alternate in status to the official forms, known as alternate names are approved by the OGNB. Forms adopted as French language equivalents by MNR are also entered into the provincial toponymic database.

1. Definitions

For the purposes of this document,

"Minister" means the Minister of Natural Resources.

"Board" means the Ontario Geographic Names Board, created under the OGNB Act (R.S.O. 1990, C.O.16).

"Official Name" means a geographic name, which has been approved by the Minister of Natural Resources upon recommendation of the Ontario Geographic Names Board and designation for publication in the Gazetteer of Ontario. Names of unincorporated entities are entered into the official record by the Board. In accord with the univocity principle, confirmed by the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (Geneva, 1967), there can be only one official name for a given geographic entity. Official names in Ontario usually belong to the English, French, and Aboriginal linguistic traditions.

"Alternate name" means a geographic name, which is different from the official name and which is in common and/or local use in the Francophone community. In accord with the requirements of the French Language Services Act, such names are recommended by the Board for adoption by the Minister as officially recognized alternate names. The United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographic Names (Geneva, 1967) provides for the use of such names in multilingual areas.

"French equivalent" means a translation or an adaptation into the French language of an official name, which is provided by Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources. These equivalents are not supported by local usage and do not require ministerial approval. They are to be used for specific purposes outlined in this policy.

2. General Principles

a. As provided by the French Language Services Act, this policy reflects the need to respect and promote French heritage in Ontario. At the same time, it seeks to preserve the integrity of geographic names. More specifically, it is designed to meet the needs of the Francophone population of Ontario in the areas of mapping, publications and signage as they relate to geographic names.

b. In recommending official and alternate French names to the Minister, the Board shall ensure that the rules governing French orthography and punctuation are brought to the attention of all interested parties.

c. Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources shall provide French equivalents for all official names which are not of the French linguistic tradition except in those cases where alternate names have been approved by the Board. In these cases, alternate names will be used in lieu of French equivalents.

d. Any problem concerning official and alternate names in the French language should be addressed to the Board. Problems concerning French equivalents should be addressed to Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

3. Names on Maps

a. Geographic names shown on Government of Ontario maps should be only official names approved by the Ontario Geographic Names Board​.

 

Examples:
Rice Lake, Lac des Mille Lacs, Winisk River are the only forms to be used in reference to these geographic features.
 

b. Where an officially approved alternate name exists for a feature or place having an official name, both the official name and the officially approved alternate name (in bracketed form) will, map scale permitting, be shown on government maps. The Board will periodically update its list of officially approved alternate names.

Examples:
Detroit River (Rivière Détroit)
Lake St. Clair (Lac Sainte-Claire)
Niagara Falls (Chutes Niagara)
 

c. Where a map forms part of a unilingual French publication or part of the French text of a back-to-back bilingual publication, as in brochures, reports, etc, or when a map has been prepared specifically for the Francophone population and incorporates text in the French language, the rules governing treatment of names in prose text (see 4. a) shall apply.

d. In the case of maps which are part of a side-by-side bilingual publication, official names shall be used together with alternate names or French equivalents in bracketed form.

Examples:

Official Name:

Official Name:

Alternate Name:

Official Name:
French Equivalent:

Lac Seul

Lake Superior

(Lac Supérieur)

Crombie Bay
(Baie Crombie)
 

4. Names in Prose Texts

As official repository of geographic nomenclature of the province, the database of Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources contains some 57,000 official names. In addition, it contains the corresponding French language forms to be used in connection with these names in various areas of application as set out in this policy. These alternate names or French equivalents are the only forms to be used in government publications to be translated into French.

a. In publications prepared for the Francophone population, only the alternate names approved by the Board or the French equivalents provided by Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources shall be used:

Examples:
French River (Official Name)

rivière des Français ​(Alternate Name)

Outer Duck Island (Official Name)
île Outer Duck (French Equivalent)
​ 
​b. In accord with the requirements of the French Language Services Act, Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources shall make alternate names and French equivalents available to all government ministries and agencies. The Ministry should consider the publication, for the general public, of a listing of official names, alternate names and French equivalents. This list could be published as a Glossary or as an extended version of the Gazetteer of Ontario, which would include both the official names and their corresponding French forms.

5. Names on Road Signs

In the 23 designated areas of the French Language Services Act, only official and alternate names approved by the Board may be used on G.I-3 (Hamlets) and G. I-6 (Rivers or Lakes) highway signs. French equivalents are not to be used. Questions concerning the implementation of the above guidelines are to be addressed to Provincial Georeferencing of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Examples:

Official Name:

Official Name:
Alternate Name:

Rivière Delisle

Lake Nipissing
Lac Nipissing
 

6. Re​vision

This policy shall be reviewed as required in order to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of the Francophone population of Ontario.

7. Digi​tal Database Entries

Dual, alternate or equivalent name coding abbreviations used in the linguistic treatment data field of the digital data are listed below:

A7 = Dual Official Name Form
Q1 = Alternate Name
FTE = French-text Equivalent Name (as listed in ONTERM)
Q2 = French-text Equivalent Name (as listed in NRVIS/LIO)
 

Source: Ontario Geographic Names Board​. Linguistic Treatment of French Geographic Names in Ontario: Principles and Procedures​. June 2007.