Behind The Names

RUSKIN was named after John Ruskin the British author, art critic, draughtsman, watercolourist, social thinker, and philanthropist.

The name WHONNOCK is an Anglicized version of a Halkomelem word said to mean, “place where there are (always) humpback salmon” (Akrigg: British Columbia Place Names)

The English spelling of Whonnock with “NN” of today was established in the mid-1800s. When the CPR put a station at Whonnock on the new transcontinental line, they called it “Wharnock” and for a few decades the spelling “Wharnock” continued to be used by some. The post office, established in 1885 took the name Whonnock and the CPR eventually followed suit.

In December 1939 the Canadian Permanent Committee on geographical names in Ottawa adopted the writing “Whonock” with one “N” in conformity with the spelling of the name of the Reserve. The post office and CPR subsequently used this now official spelling. Many residents refused to follow suit and continued writing Whonnock with the double “NN.”

Early in the 1960s—the war years over—a few residents took action presented a petition for the return to the old spelling to the government in Victoria and Ottawa. Of an estimated population of 644 not less than 603 signatures were collected of which 588 favoured to return to the original spelling.

The petitioners were successful and in 1969 the Committee on Geographical Names, with permission of Kwantlen First Nation, reinstated writing Whonnock with “NN”.

There is a place, not very well known, at Rivers Inlet called Whonnock at the Whonnock River. In Kwakwakawakw (Kwakiutl) people from there carried the name “Wanukw” meaning "the owner of the river" or Whonnock as it was recorded around 1882 in the church records. The surname Whonnock came from here and not from Whonnock on the Fraser.

Aside from the similarity in modern spelling there is nothing that connects these two places or the First Nations peoples who lived here and there.

The First Nations people from the Whonnock Reserve were “Whonnocks” and the non-Native population called themselves “Whonnockians.”

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