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Interesting geographical terms used in Canada

  1. Blow me down
  2. Brandies
  3. Buffalo jump
  4. Canyon
  5. Cone
  6. Cratère
  7. Échouerie
  8. Gulch
  9. Mal bay
  10. Oxbow
  11. Pingo
  12. Plée

Blow me down

  • Abrupt or isolated hill or headland rising steeply from the water and subject to sudden down-drafts of wind
  • Common in Newfoundland and Labrador, usually simply as "Blow Me Down"
  • Some related terms: hill, head, cape, cliff, bluff
  • In French: promontoire (m.)
  • Examples:


  • Partly submerged rocks; a reef
  • Originated from the word "brandise", an iron tripod used for cooking (in Ireland); probably originally used to refer to a group of three rocks. Usually "The Brandies".
  • Used only in Newfoundland
  • Some related terms: rock, reef
  • In French: rochers (m.)
  • Example:

Buffalo jump

  • Vertical side of a coulee, hill, or river bank
  • Place where Plains Indians killed herds of bison by driving them over steep cliffs
  • Used in Alberta, but rare
  • Some related terms: bank, cliff, bluff, escarpment
  • In French: escarpement (m.)
  • Example:


  • Deep narrow valley with precipitous walls
  • This generic term is widely used across Canada
  • Western examples are mainly gorge-like with fast-flowing watercourses
  • In early days, canyon was used in the Spanish form "cañon"
  • Some related terms: valley, ravine, gorge, trench, coulee
  • In French: canyon (m.)
  • Examples:
Ouimet Canyon, northeast of Thunder Bay, Ont.
((Source: H. Kerfoot))


  • Cone-shaped hill
  • Used in Newfoundland, Labrador and British Columbia. A few in B.C. (e.g. Cinder Cone) are young volcanic vents
  • Related terms: hill, sugarloaf, tolt, pingo
  • In French: colline (f.)
  • Examples:
Aerial shot of Eve Cone
Eve Cone rising above the Big Raven Plateau, Mount Edziza area, southeast of Telegraph Creek, British Columbia.
((Source: National Air Photo Library, A12788-421; 1950.))


  • More or less rounded, bowl-shaped depression
  • A cratère can be either volcanic or meteoric in origin
  • Used in Quebec.
  • In English: crater
  • Example:
Lac Pingualuit inside the Cratère des Pingualuit, southwest of Kangiqsujuaq, Quebec.
((Source: National Air Photo Library, A16116-110; 1958.))


  • Blocks of flat rock extending into the sea
  • In Canadian French, the term "échouerie" means a place where herds of seals and walruses rest, whereas in international French it refers to a place where vessels might go aground
  • Descriptive term used in Quebec
  • In English: ledge
  • Example:


This generic term can have several different meanings


  • Deep, steeply graded, V-shaped valley, sometimes containing a stream
  • Generally smaller than a ravine but larger than a gully
  • The generic is widely used, but is particularly of note in the gold mining areas of the Yukon in the late 1890s
  • Related terms: ravine, valley, gorge, pup
  • In French: ravine (f.)
  • Examples:


  • Narrow cove with steep shoreline
  • Used in Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Related terms: cove, bay, hole
  • In French: anse (f.)
  • Examples:


  • Saltwater channel
  • Used in Nova Scotia
  • Related terms: passage, narrows, channel, pass, gut
  • In French: goulet (m.)
  • Example:
Bears Paw Gulch above the Cypress River Valley, Manitoba.
((Source: NTS map 62 G/10))

Mal bay

  • Tidal pond almost completely cut off from the sea by a bar
  • Used in New Brunswick, but rare
  • Related terms: lagoon, barachois, pond
  • In French: barachois (m.)
  • Example:


  • A horseshoe-shaped loop, either part of or detached from a meandering watercourse
  • Used in New Brunswick, Ontario and Manitoba, but uncommon
  • Related terms: bend, elbow
  • In French: boucle (f.), but no examples of this generic term are found in Canadian geographical names
  • Examples:
Maxwell Oxbow, beside the Assiniboine River, Manitoba.
((Source: NTS map 62 H/13))


  • Isolated, conical, ice-cored mound occurring in areas of permafrost
  • Use is limited to the N.W.T., and includes some seabed examples in the Beaufort Sea
  • Related terms: hill, mound, knoll, cone
  • In French: as this term is of Inuit origin, the word "pingo" would remain the same
  • Examples:

    • Ibyuk Pingo, N.W.T., 69° 24' - 133° 05' (107 C)
    • Kugmallit Pingos, (seabed - Beaufort Sea), 70° 45' - 132° 40'
      (see Canadian Hydrographic Service chart 7651)
Ibyuk Pingo, N.W.T.
((Source: H. Kerfoot))


  • Area of land devoid of trees
  • "Plée" would seem to be the noun derived from the adjective "pelé" (devoid of vegetation) or else a phonetic variant of the term "prée" (f.) used in French-speaking areas of the Maritime Provinces for "pré"
  • Used in Quebec
  • Related terms: champ, pré
  • In English: meadow
  • Example:

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