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Canada, kanata

The name Canada comes from the Iroquoian word kanata, meaning “village.”

In August 1535, Jacques Cartier heard two Indigenous youths refer to the village of Stadacona as kanata. Cartier wrote the name down in his journal as Canada.

In his writings, Cartier applied this name not only to the village but also to the surrounding territory, which he called the province of Canada. Sixteenth-century European maps soon adopted the name Canada to refer to the area around the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River.

For the next three centuries, almost without interruption, the name Canada continued to be used for the area making up present-day Ontario and Quebec. Finally, in 1867, Canada was chosen as the name for the new Dominion formed by Confederation.