The series Place Names of Alberta is the most complete and current reference to Alberta's toponymy. This, the fourth and final volume of the Place Names of Alberta series, covers the northern reaches of the province. Have you often wondered how a place got its name? As you read through this book, it will not take long to realize places are not named by chance. Where humans encounter the land, they name it. The motives for naming places are primarily directional, and although we tend to name things in predictable fashion, the reasons may be as individual as the person naming them. The focus of this volume is on all approved names in Northern Alberta. The geographical area covered is by far the largest of the four geographical areas of Alberta; in fact, it covers close to one-half of the entire area of the province. It is the area where some of the earliest activities and names are recorded in written form. There are three groups that have had the most influence in naming the area. The aboriginal people have been here the longest, and it is the surviving aboriginal names that are the oldest.
Archaeological evidence shows first nations people have been in this part of the world for at least 12,000 years. French and English fur traders have been here since the late 1700s and they, too, have had a role in naming places. Europeans often give commemorative names. The third group to have an impact on toponomy was the Roman Catholic missionaries who came primarily from the French order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. It is hoped that such efforts as this volume will spark interest and awareness in northern toponomy and will encourage the recording of geographic names in Alberta's north.