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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) hypocoristic form of ‘Robert’; a proposed name for Canada’s Northwest Territories

river and forest in canada's northwest territories

The fact that Canada’s Northwest Territories came surprisingly close to being renamed “Bob” also proved popular this week, for the fairly obvious reason that this is an absolutely first class bit of information.

So, here’s the story.

In 1999, Canada’s 1.3 million square miles of Northwest Territories were split into two halves. The eastern side became Nunavut, a massive semi-autonomous homeland set aside for four-fifths of Canada’s Inuit population. That left the more densely populated western side to mull over whether they wanted to take the opportunity to change their name too—with suggestions left open to the Canadian public. What could possibly go wrong?

In total, nearly 200 different suggestions made the shortlist, from “Tundraland” and “Freedom Territory” to “Snowbound” and “Eskimo Pie”. Several native names were also suggested, but top of the was the option to simply retain the existing name, Northwest Territories. Second on the list—in true Boaty McBoatface fashion—was “Bob”.

Thanks to an internet campaign, Bob had emerged as a serious contender in the race to rename the Northwest Territories. But in the end, democracy held true and the name remained unchanged.

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