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Point Petre, Prince Edward County

Concerning the origin of the name

There is wide attribution locally to "Pointe Pétreux" or 'Stony Point', but we cannot document this with any certainty (most attributions are at best from the mid-Victorian artists and engravers). Certainly the Labroquerie map of 1757 suggests (the geographical accuracy is horrible) "Pointe la Barque" or "Pointe au gravois" (rubble or gravel) but this latter would more probably be the next point to the NorthWest, today's Salmon / Wicked Point.

What is more certain is that in the late C18th, at the instigation of Simcoe – documented in Smyth's "A Short Topographical Description of His Majesty's Province of Upper Canada...." and the annexed Provincial Gazetteer (W. Faden, London, 1799) as well as various "Simcoe" maps of the same period, many compiled by Smyth - there is a "St. Peter's Bay" (various sp., but none that we have found so far inverting the 're' of Point Petre [Note 1]). This bay is very accurately described as being south and a little east of Little Sandy Bay - which is the Lake ontario side of East Lake. Point Petre would thus, and without much doubt, be the southern arm of St Peters' Bay.

By 1820, the Chewitt maps appear to be showing "Petre Pt." while the Robert Gourlay map of 1821 seems to francisize as "St Pierre Bay". The Tackabury Atlas gives Point Petre as does Belden. So by the third quarter of the C19th, Point Petre is the established spelling of what is still today pronounced 'Peter'.

We cannot find a connection back to early French naming - but there could be one as it is within a few miles of the presumed Kentio / Quinté mission; however, de Casson and Fénelon were more prone to using Huron names. Also, it has been suggested that the name could have come from Sir William Petre who was secretary of state to Henry VIII and had many descendants in the Royal Navy and Army, but we can find no connection.

What is still of great interest is whether there is any cross validity between "Pétreux" and either "Peter" as in Saint or "Petre" pronounced Peter. If so, what are the vagaries of etymology at work here? If not, do we accept the aural coincidence at face value?


Note 1: There exists a sketch, origin unknown, possibly used by C.H.J Snider in the Telegram circa 1936, which uses the term Point Peter. This usage was termed a "mistake" by marine historian Willis Metcalfe, who in his regional writings systematically used Point Petre. This corresponds to the Ontario Government's (Ministry of Natural Resources) "Official Geographic Names."



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