Courtesy Qualico Communities

The inexact science of naming Calgary communities

When it comes to the names of Calgary communities, some honour early pioneers, others are named after the surrounding landscape and some simply sound like a nice place to live.

Pleasant Heights, Scenic Acres and Sunalta (a mash up of sunny and Alberta) sound like they could have come out of a real estate subdivision name generator. But how do developers actually come up with the names for new communities?

Is it marketing experts sitting around a table brainstorming ideas, which then go to focus groups for feedback? Or is it as simple as someone in the office coming up with a great name?

It’s a bit of both, says Jaon Palacsko, vice-president of Calgary communities with Brookfield Residential.

“A lot of behind the scenes work goes into finding the perfect name for a new community.” – Laura Field, Qualico Communities marketing co-ordinator

Palacsko says some of their communities’ names have simply come from looking into the history of early settlers in an area. McKenzie Towne is named after the pioneering McKenzie family and the new community of Livingston is named after Samuel Livingston, an early mining prospector in North America who eventually started one of the first farms in the Calgary area.

In other cases, he says, local history doesn’t lend itself to an inspirational community name, so the company works with marketing firms to find a name that ties into the overall vision for the community.

“(The name) is really the brand of where people live,” said Palacsko.

When Brookfield was planning a community with a freshwater lake, it drew on thoughts of cottage country to come up with Auburn Bay, which Calgarians now readily identify with the lake lifestyle.

“People recognize the name Auburn Bay and what it stands for in terms of the overall community,” said Palacsko.

Laura Field, marketing co-ordinator with Qualico Communities, says the company’s community of Evanston was named after the Evans family, early owners of the land.

“When naming a community, we look at a few things. We try and look at the land itself, taking into consideration who owned the land, what are some characteristics of the landscape, what is the vision for the community?” said Field.

“From there, the name needs to be appealing. Potential residents need to like the sound of where they might live, it needs to roll off the tongue easily.

“A lot of behind the scenes work goes into finding the perfect name for a new community.”

The stories behind the names

Albert Park
Named after Albert Smyth, a real estate promoter who sold lots in the area in the early 1900s. Faced with poor sales due to lack of public transit access to the area, he had railway tracks laid connecting it to Forest Lawn and started a rumour that streetcar service was imminent. The ruse was discovered, Smyth fled town and locals used the railway ties for firewood. The name stuck, however.

Coach Hill
Named for its proximity to the Old Banff Coach Road, once used by stagecoaches heading to Banff.

Dover
Named in honour of Mary Dover, an early Calgary alderman and environmentalist, and the daughter of A.E. Cross, one of the “Big Four” Calgary businessmen who founded the Calgary Stampede.

Eau Claire
Named after the Eau Claire Lumber Company, which was managed by Peter Prince, of Prince’s Island Park fame.

Mount Royal
Named after the Montreal community that was home to Candian Pacific Railway president William Cornelius Van Horne.

Palliser
Named after Captain John Palliser, an explorer and surveyor in Western Canada in the mid-1800s.

Shawnessy
Named after Samuel Shaw, who built a log house in the Fish Creek Valley in 1882.

St. Andrews Heights
Named after the famous Scottish golf course, and at one time it did have a golf course that hosted two provincial championships.

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