Newfoundland & Labrador: Home of the World’s Weirdest Place Names

The Lower Battery at the entrance to St John's...

The Lower Battery at the entrance to St John's Harbour, Newfoundland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Among the things that make the province of Newfoundland and Labrador unique are the great food, the friendly people, the unpredictable winters and its sheer natural beauty. But as beautiful as the province is, it has attracted a host of very strange names.

Some of the unusual names that decorate provincial maps include:

Killbride, Cow Head, Goobies, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Haystack, Little Burnt Bay, Funk Island, Sops Island and Nameless Cove (I guess all the really strange names were already taken.)

Here are my top ten weird Newfoundland and Labrador place names: (The stories behind the origin of the names were sourced from the Newfoundland and Labrador Book of Everything.)

10.          Furby’s Cove

Located on the South Cost of Newfoundland, I don’t think Furby’s Cove is named after a creature that resembles a gremlin. Still, I would avoid visiting this locale after midnight…

9.            Naked Man Hill

While Captain Cook was surveying the coast, he erected a pile of stones. Apparently, from a distance, these stones looks like a man.

8.            Dumpling Harbour

Located off the East Coast of Labrador, Dumpling Harbour is a tiny island that has the shape of a dumpling. This was possibly the inspiration for its name. Or for a meal. Either way, it’s delicious!

7.            Bareneed

This Avalon town’s name was originally either Barren Head or Bearing Head, but thanks to the local dialect, it is now called Bareneed.

6.            Cranky Point

When I wake up and see snow in April, I point in horror at the white stuff. But this is not how the name was derived. The name originates from the dangerous see that surrounds it. “Crank” is used to describe the impact of strong winds on a boat.

Map of Newfoundland, Canada

Map of Newfoundland, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5.            Ha Ha Bay

Five places in the province have this hilarious name, which likely came from a French Expression meaning “dead end”.

4.            Indian Tickle

Indian Tickle is a community in Labrador. A “tickle” is a saltwater strait that does not lend itself to easy navigation. Other similar names include Baker’s Tickle, Black Tickle, Chimney Tickle and Venison Tickle. No “Feather Tickle”?

3.            Dildo

A corruption of the French name “d’iles deux”, Dildo’s harbour is protected by two large islands, called Dildo Island and Spread-eagle Island. No comment.

2.            Joe Batts Arm

In this context, an arm is an inlet. One theory as to the name’s origin is that Joe Batt, sailing under Captain James Cook, decided to jump ship and settle in the “arm”. A number of communities in the province have “Arms”, such as Virgin Arm, Goose Arm, Middle Arm, Three Arms and Too Good Arm. You wouldn’t want to have a broken arm in Too Good Arm – that’s just bad publicity.

1.            Pinchgut Point

Pinchgut Point can be found on the shores of Placentia Bay. Its name reflected a scarcity of food. During the place-name reform of the 1960s, similar names like Famish Gut were not allowed. Yet the names above did make the cut. Interesting…

These are just a handful of the noteworthy place names in the province. There are many more.

What is the strangest place name you’ve ever heard?

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8 Comments

  1. Great post. I never knew how they came up with the name Dildo til now. And thank you for liking my post, Bonavista Bay Polar Bear! 🙂

  2. Great post. I never knew where the place name Dildo came from til now. And thank you for liking my post, Bonavista Bay Polar Bear!

    • kashintransit

      Thank you for sharing! I’d been following the news about the polar bear sightings – it’s great to hear a personal account.It must have been scary!

  3. There are definitely some strange place names in Newfoundland. It makes this province even more unique.

    • Kash

      This is true. The strange names do tend to make the places even more memorable 🙂

  4. Did you forget Joe Batt’s Arm? I always picture a petrified arm shriveled up and enshrined on a display in the center of the village…

    • Kash

      Haha, that’s quite a mental picture 😉

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