New Encyclopedia of Coastal Place Names

Posted by Daniel on Sep 26, 2009

Ever wonder where Bentinck Island got its name? Or why Benn Point, southwest of Ocean Falls, is spelled with two n's instead of one? Or why on earth a channel north of Pender Harbour is named for Agamemnon, a hero of the Trojan War who was later murdered by his wife's lover?

Well, wonder no longer. The indefatigable traveller and researcher Andrew Scott has the answers to these questions and many more and he shares them with us in his latest book, The Encyclopedia of Raincoast Place Names, published this month by Harbour Publishing.

The new encyclopedia builds on Captain Walbran's famous British Columbia Coast Names, published in 1909 and long past due a good updating. Andrew assembles the stories behind the names of about 5,200 coastal communities, bays, inlets, islands and other landmarks.

Bentinck Island? It is located off the southern tip of Vancouver Island and is named for a British politician of the 19th century. More interestingly, between 1924 and 1956 it served as BC's second leper colony. Where was the first? You'll have to buy the book.

I will tell you that Benn Point was named for another British politician, Sir Ion Hamilton Benn, who was also a promoter of the first attempt to build a mill at Ocean Falls. And Agamemnon Channel was named only indirectly for an ancient Greek; its name derives from a British warship that saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar.
By the way, check out Harbour's website ( to find out when Andrew might be in your community talking about his book.