North America’s wettest place could be up for a new name

Henderson Lake, near Port Alberni, could be renamed to Hucuktlis Lake

The wettest place in North America could be getting a new name.

Henderson Lake, southwest of Port Aberni, has staked its claim on that soggy title with an annual average precipitation of close to 7 metres.

The BC Geographical Names Office recently recently started a process aimed at changing its name to “Hucuktlis Lake” (pronounced ho-chuck-lis). Hucuktlis is the Nuu-chah-nulth language name for the lake, and means “place way inside.”

The lake is located adjacent to Thunderbird’s Nest Protected Area, and is drained by Hucuktlis River. Uchucklesaht Tribe lands surround the southeast and part of the northern portions of the lake.

The proposed name change, said ACRD board chair John Jack, was brought about because of a larger conversation between the Uchucklesaht First Nation and the province.

“It comes out of the Maa-nulth treaty,” he explained.

Negotiated between Canada, British Columbia and the five Maa-nulth First Nations, the Maa-nulth treaty came into effect in 2011, and sets out each First Nation’s rights and benefits respecting land and resources, and self-government over its lands and resources and its citizens.

Chapter 20 of the treaty states that a Maa-nulth First Nation can propose the naming or renaming of a geographic feature with a name in the Nuu-chah-nulth language, and the province will consider these proposals in accordance with provincial law, policy and procedures.

The name “Henderson Lake” was adopted in 1917, according to the BC Geographical Names website, although interestingly enough, it was misspelled as “Anderson Lake” on the BC Lands’ map in 1912.

The BC Geographical Names website also notes that Henderson Lake was originally named by Robert Brown, the commander of the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition in 1864, after his friend Captain John Henderson.

“I don’t think it has the same difficulty as renaming a bridge or a street,” said Jack. “It was not named after someone historically significant. It already had a name.”

BC Geographical Names says the lake “has always been very special and spiritual to the people of Hucuk t lis.”

The name of the lake, explained Jack, corresponds to the name of the community.

Because the lake is partially within the boundaries of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District, the BC Geographical Names Office submitted a letter to the chair and directors of the ACRD last month for advice and comments. The ACRD voted unanimously last week to support the name change.

“We didn’t really have any comment beyond support,” said Jack. “[The Uchucklesaht] are part of the ACRD, so we wanted to support them.”

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

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