Geographical Names

Geographical names are more than labels on maps and road signs. They can reveal patterns of settlement, exploration and migration, and mirror outside influences to our history - aspects of the heritage and promise of an area that might otherwise be overlooked or forgotten by visitors and later generations.

BC Geographical Names Search

The BC Geographical Names Information System contains the master database of B.C. place names and holds approximately 50,000 current and former B.C. names. Brief notes about provenance and significance accompany approximately 50% of the place name records. All the names and location details are searchable on the database, and as time permits whatever origin notes the BC Geographical Names Office has about a name are being transferred from the place name cards to the database.

To search for a B.C. geographical name:

BC Geographical Naming Policy and Procedures

The application of names to geographical features is a public trust, carried out for the benefit of present and future generations. The geographical naming policy, procedures and principles govern the decision-making process in British Columbia, and are consistent with established procedures and practices followed in other jurisdictions in Canada.


Use interactive maps to explore and discover special groupings of place name records in the BC Geographical Names Information System.

Digital Gazetteer

The Gazetteer of British Columbia is a listing of all 40,700+ official geographical names in the province, extracted from the BC Geographical Names Information System, the master database of B.C. place names. The Gazetteer is downloadable free of charge.

Formats available:

BC Geographical Names custom download is a custom downloadable (output format, projection) spatial layer of the BC Gazetteer from the BC Data Catalogue.

BC Gazetteer .csv is a self-extracting Comma Separated Values file that opens as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The file contains 40,700+ rows with the following values: Official Name; Feature Type; Feature Type Code: Mapsheet: Datum: Latitude: Longitude. Size = 3.0 MB

BC Gazetteer .shp is a (compressed) standard ESRI point shapefile in decimal degrees. The file contains 40,700+ points with an accompanying attribute table containing data for each point: Official Name; Feature Type; Feature Type Code; Mapsheet; Datum; Latitude; Longitude. ZipFile Size: 2.5 MB

The Gazetteer includes two documents:

Feature Definitions - a dictionary of the 200+ feature types identified with the province's official names

Feature Type Codes and Categories - a hierarchical listing to help users customize their own subset of the Gazetteer

For Developers

The BC Geographical Names Information System includes a web service (the BC Geographical Names Web Service). The web service can be used by third-party application developers to incorporate name searches into other web sites and application.