Toponymy: place names explained


Getting around an area is so much easier when we know where we’re going. Welcome to the world of toponymy, the field tasked with naming the different places in a city. From memories of historical figures to reminders of important events in our history, the role of toponymy is to ensure that certain important collective memories are preserved.


Naming requests for public places are rigorously analyzed by the City of Montréal’s toponymy committee. The next step consists of research and consultation with the different boroughs and municipal services. The city council then adopts a resolution which is sent to the Commission de toponymie du Québec.


To increase the representation of women in Montréal’s place names, the City of Montréal now has a database of 375 women’s names that focus on women’s contributions to the city’s history. 


Where two former premiers cross paths
Sometimes, our interpretation of historical events leads to a change in how we name our streets. For example, this is currently the case for René Lévesque Boulevard West (Dorchester Boulevard West) and Robert-Bourassa Boulevard (University Street). These former stars of Quebec politics now form a permanent pair where their namesake streets cross downtown.


Did you know…
…that Gouin Boulevard crosses the northern edge of the island of Montréal for 57.6 km from east to west?

…that the Place des Jardins-des-Vosges, a square just a few metres long located on Nuns’ Island (in the borough of Verdun), is named in reference to the Place des Vosges in the famous Marais district in Paris? (French only)


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