This is page 1 of 3 celebrating some Spanish place names in Canada. In my natal province of Ontario, Orillia is famed as the home of Canada’s great humorist, Stephen Leacock. The beloved writer built a summer place on Old Brewery Bay on Lake Couchiching. I’m still reading and laughing out loud at Stephen Leacock who remains far funnier than the drab, watered-down, politically correct, so-called Canadian humorists whose unfunny glum-a-thons lay waste the wastelands of our television screens. Want some true Canadian humour? Read Stephen Leacock. For all devout Leacock fans, his house is now a museum and makes a trip to Orillia for a summer afternoon picnic on the Leacock estate a most enjoyable outing. Orillia is about 80 miles from Toronto.
Orilla is the Spanish word for riverbank or shore. Orilla del mar is seashore in Spanish. Orillia, Ontario, was named by Sir Peregrine Maitland, Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada (1818-1828) who had done military duty in Spain. Whether Sir Peregrine spelled the Spanish word incorrectly because he had only the slightest acquaintance with Spanish (my hunch) or because he merely wanted to use the Spanish word for shore as a starting point for the village name, we shall never know. Our Ontario town of Orillia touches two shorelines, that of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe. The fact that the town nestles between two shores may have suggested the name to Sir Peregrine.
This is page one of three. There are two more pages of Spanish place names with some especially fascinating stories from British Columbia.
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