Place Name Nomenclature

This method of nomenclature, namely, calling peaks after individuals, has been in vogue since the early days of discovery in the Rocky Mountains. As there are no Indian names at present, and, as far as one can find out, there have never been — for the country has never been inhabited — the custom is justifiable, as serving in many cases to prepetuate the connection of individuals with the country.

Hugh Edward Millington Stutfield, 1903

Tracing the Divide to Elk Pass [during the 1916 Boundary Survey], Wheeler saw “the striking peaks… dominated by Mount Joffre,” which he named for “distinguished generals who have rendered such names immortal through their splendid service to France in the great war now in progress.” Similarly, in the Palliser Pass area he named high mountains to honour the Royal family–another example of his strong feelings for Empire.

— Esther Fraser, Wheeler

Since A. O. Wheeler did the topography for the Alberta-BC boundary survey, he also had the opportunity to name the geographic features along the Great Divide.

Wheeler subscribed to the “empty land” theory regarding the geographical features in the area he was surveying. Since very few of them had official names, Wheeler believed that his position as BC commissioner and his survey work along the divide gave him the right to name the features he mapped. Although the names had to be officially approved by the Geographic Board of Canada, it generally accepted Wheeler’s recommendations.

Wheeler seldom consulted anyone about naming the geographical features, and he ignored the principle of naming peaks to reflect the natural or human history of the area.… Unlike 19th-century scientists and explorers, Wheeler and his survey party rarely met indigenous people who could provide names for the features of the Rocky Mountains, but he made no effort to consult them when making his maps.

— Jay Sherwood, Surveying the Great Divide


  • Stutfield, Hugh Edward Millington [1858–1929]. Climbs and Explorations in the Canadian Rockies. London: Longmans, Green, 1903
  • Fraser, Esther Augusta [1919–1978]. Wheeler. Banff: Summerthought, 1978
  • Sherwood, Jay. Surveying the Great Divide. The Alberta/BC Boundary Survey, 1913-1917. Qualicum Beach, BC: Caitlin, 2017