Abee to Zama City

By: Harry Sanders
ISBN: 978-1-926983-56-1
Publication date: Fall 2023
288 pages | Paperback | 6 x9 inches

After Oct 2023 purchase here

In Abee to Zama City, read about the fascinating history behind the names of Alberta’s cities, towns, villages, and hamlets through the eyes of renowned author and historian Harry Sanders.

Abee to Zama City is designed to both entertain the curious and educate serious etymologists, providing a revealing portrait of Alberta’s past, but also an in-depth reference. Sanders’ in-depth research answers several questions for each community—Where is it located? What is the origin of the name? Who named it? And if the name has changed over time, why?

The toponomy of Alberta is a reflection on its history, from Indigenous people, through early explorers and the railway era to more modern times. Alberta itself is named for the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria, while other place names are of Indigenous in origin (Okotoks means “Big Rock” for a nearby glacial erratic), descriptive (as charming as Sunnynook and as simple as Beaver Crossing), for people (including our first alphabetical entry in this book, Abee, a spelled out initial name), and from other places (including Banff, Calgary, and Edmonton). Alberta has names with a literary origin (Thorhild was named for the Norse god of strength), manufactured names (Irricana is a combination of irrigation and canal), and even a name that was misspelt by the original town painter (Kathyrn should have been Kathryn).



Harry Sanders is a Calgary-based historical consultant and freelance writer. He studied history at the University of Calgary and has worked for the Calgary Public Library, the City of Calgary Archives, the Glenbow Library and Archives, and the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Alberta. He is the interim editor of Alberta History, the quarterly journal of the Historical Society of Alberta, and a recipient of a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal for his work as a historian. Abee to Zama City is Sanders’ tenth book.