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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

Angry Over Names In Vermilion

Back in 1907, there was a bit of anger in Vermilion over names and it all came down to too many places using Vermilion as part of their name.

The local postmaster stated, “There are three post offices in Alberta that have Vermilion as either part or whole of their names.” There was Vermilion, Alberta. The Fort Vermilion, Alberta. And finally Vermilion Valley, Alberta.

Fort Vermilion was the oldest of the communities. It dates back to 1788 when it was established as one of the oldest European settlements in what became Alberta. It was named for the vermilion-coloured clays lining the riverbanks. It started out as a North West Company Fort, and of the three likely had the most claim on the name.

Next in line was Vermilion, Alberta, which dated to about 1905. This name came from the vermilion-coloured clay in the river valley.

Lastly, there was Vermilion Valley, a municipal district that was formed on Dec. 8, 1913. It lasted until Jan. 1, 1944, when it was incorporated into the County of Vermilion River. Where did it get its name? You guessed it, Clay in a river valley.

The issue for the local postmaster was that the multiple uses of the name were causing confusion in the mail. People in Vermilion got the mail of those in Fort Vermilion, and vice versa, while both also received the mail of Vermilion Valley, and vice versa.

He asked that the government take steps to remedy the situation and allow only one community to have the name of Vermilion in their name. This was not an unreasonable request as many place names in Canada had to change because they were too similar to another place name.

Of course, if that happened, Vermilion would not have its current name because Fort Vermilion had the most right to it with its founding over 125 years prior to Vermilion.

The postmaster felt differently, stating, “Frequently mail for both places comes here as the best known of the three and this no doubt at times causes worry and inconvenience to people in Vermilion Valley and Fort Vermilion.”

None of the communities needed to change their names, and other than Vermilion Valley, both exist to this day. Contact Craig at craig@canadaehx.com Support Craig by donating at www.canadaehx.com (Click Donate) Listen to his podcast Canadian History Ehx on all podcast platforms.

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