Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024
What's in a name?  A historical look at four Southwestern park names

Have you ever wondered how your favorite park got its name?

Rondeau Provincial Park

Today’s visitors to Rondeau can appreciate ancient Carolinian forest, 7 miles of sandy beaches on Lake Erie, and excellent hiking, biking, and skating trails in the park.

But where does the name “Rondeau” come from?

Postcard with old stone doors originally at the entrance to Rondeau, with an old car driving, looks like it comes from the 50s.

In the summer of 1669, René Bréhant de Galinee and Francois Dollier De Casson (both French explorers and missionaries) set out from Montreal on an expedition with the French explorer René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle. Their goal was to be the first to find a land route to the Pacific Ocean.

Black and white photograph of an old entrance sign to Rondeau Provincial Park

The expedition team soon discovered that La Salle was not prepared for this trip. He could barely paddle a canoe, he only spoke French and was not comfortable in the remote wilderness.

Even with this setback, by September the men had reached the north shore of Lake Erie.

Grassy coastline with forest in the distance.  Two kayakers paddling off the coast.

During this trip, Galinée mapped the area of ​​Lake Erie from Port Dover to Point Pelee. He was the first to record this area on a map known as “Map of Canada and the Discovered Lands towards Lake Erie.”

Early travelers referred to the area at the southern end of what is now Rondeau Provincial Park as Pointe aux Pins (“Pine Point”), but the bay area was named “Rond Eau” by de Galinée and Casson because it had a somewhat rounded appearance when viewed from its center.

Rondeau Provincial Park is named “Rond Eau,” which means “round water” and describes the protected bay, now known as Rondeau Bay, which is protected by the peninsula that extends to Lake Erie.

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Rondeau Provincial Park was officially established in 1894.

Awenda Provincial Park

This park features beautiful Georgian Bay beaches, sand dunes, upland forests, swamps and marshes. There are a large number of archaeological sites of provincial importance on the mainland.

The word He goes He is Iroquois (Wendat or Huron).

Dr. John L. Steckley, a retired Canadian academic specializing in indigenous languages ​​of the Americas, provided this explanation:

Awenda Park entrance sign from the 1980s.

“The best translation for”He will go”would be a noun that means both ‘voice’ and ‘word’. It was used with the root of the verb. -io- ‘be great’ (as in Ontario, ‘is a great lake’) to create the word used for God: hawendI ‘His voice or word is great.’ As written, it would be a word from the Northern Bear dialect, the dialect of the people of the Awenda Park area.”

Awenda Provincial Park was officially established in 1975 and now protects terrestrial geological, biological and cultural features of provincial significance, including a well-preserved sequence of postglacial Lake Algonquin shorelines.

Komoka Provincial Park

One of our newest provincial parks, Komoka, is located along the Thames River and is largely made up of former farmland.

The park is named after the nearby town of Komoka, which is located in the Middlesex Center Regional Municipality. Komoka dates back to 1798 when the first British settlers arrived and recognized the natural value of the River Thames.

From above a river is represented that runs through a deciduous forest.

The origin of the name Komoka is explained in the 2011 proposal for a municipal building for Middlesex Centre:

A low sun rises through the trees in the forest.

“The name Komoka, once a burial site, derives from the indigenous name Kah-Ma-Kah, which translates as “Home after death.” An Indian legend tells of a young man from the Muncey tribe and a young man from the Delaware tribe who fall in love with a woman named Winona. The young warriors fought over her and both died. Seeing them both murdered, Winona committed suicide. The three bodies are said to have been buried at Kah-Ma-Ka, present-day Komoka.”

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Komoka Provincial Park was established as a protected park in 1989.

Brontë Creek Provincial Park

Bronte Creek is a beautiful natural area, with an impressive variety of programs for people of all ages and interests, including camping, hiking, skiing, a children’s farm with live animals, a disc golf course, a turn-of-the-century Spruce Lane Farm House (c.1899) and a 1.8 acre outdoor swimming pool.

1980s panoramic image of Bronte Creek Provincial Park pool on a sunny dayPanoramic photo of Bronte Creek Provincial Park pool in the 1980s

Official consideration to establish a park along Bronte Creek in Oakville dates back to a 1959 set of recommendations made by the Oakville-Trafalgar-Bronte Joint Planning Board. A 540-acre park was proposed on the site that is now Bronte Creek Provincial Park. That proposal remained dormant until the early 1970s, when a detailed proposal was presented.

Panoramic image of the Bronte Creek outdoor pool today.  It looks very similar: the trees are fuller. Panoramic image of Bronte Creek Pool today

The park was established in 1975.

After reviewing several submissions suggesting names for the park, the advisory committee recommended Bronte Creek Provincial Park, after the waterway that runs through the park and the nearby Bronte neighborhood of Oakville.