Temagami’s Lady Evelyn of the Lake – Who Was She?

Last revised on February 3, 3023.

Related Post: Robert Bell’s Lady Dufferin Lake: It’s Not Where You Think!

Lady Evelyn – such a genteel name! How did it become the name of a lake in the Temagami area of northern Ontario? Who was she, and whose idea was it to name the lake after her? This post is a record of my attempt to deal with the question marks – abandoned more than once because of seeming dead ends or impossible-for-me-to-accept answers. After a year and a bit of stop and starts, I think I’ve arrived at the right place!

Table of Contents:



By 1901 Geological Survey of Canada crews and surveying teams sent by the Ontario Government had spent a few summers paddling the waterways of the Temagami region and produced fairly detailed maps. Cartographers then labelled local landmarks, most lakes and rivers, and various significant landmarks.

Ontario Govt -issued map from 1901 – see here for the entire map set

  • Sometimes the English phonetic equivalent of a local Anishinaabe name was chosen -Temagami, Matabitchuan, Obabika, Wawiashkashi, Maskinonge, Anima-Nipissing – to name a few.
  • Sometimes, as with Smoothwater Lake,  the name was the English translation of the local Algonkian (Cree or Ojibwe) word.
  • Some landmarks received the names of those who had come to the region to map, catalogue or exploit its resources – fur, minerals, lumber – or to establish fishing lodges, hotels, or camps.

However, the names that do not seem to have any direct connection to the region sometimes leave those pouring over the maps wondering just what the story is. While more than a few come to mind, none more so than the Three Ladies, found at the north end of the Temagami area – Lady Dufferin, Lady Sydney and Lady Evelyn!

It was Lady Evelyn who first piqued my curiosity. The Ottertooth website is an excellent source of Temagami-related information, especially canoe route planning, so I headed there first.


Option #1: Lady Evelyn Campbell

The Ottertooth article Who Was Lady Evelyn? notes that the lake was named by Robert Bell, the renowned Geological Survey of Canada geologist and explorer credited with naming over 3000 Canadian geographical features. A bit of googling led to this passage from a Geological Survey of Canada document published in 1899. Written  by Bell’s assistant, A.E. Barlow, the report confirmed the Bell origin of the name:

See here for Barlow’s entire report. The quote above is from p. 268.

What is noteworthy is that both Bell and Barlow often also mention the Ojibwe name used by the locals. It puts the notion of an “I came, I saw, I renamed” scenario to rest. The actual maps that the names would appear on were years in the future, and sometimes when they finally found their way to paper, they were put in the wrong place! [See my post – Robert Bell’s Lady Dufferin Lake: It’s Not Where the Map Says It Is! for an example.]


The Ottertooth article turns to  Bruce Hodgins and Jamie Benidickson and their book The Temagami Experience for a possible answer to why Bell chose the name.

Bell, note Hodgins and Benidickson, was a prominent explorer in his day and moved in the upper circles of Ottawa. That included being on the guest list at Government House, the Governor General’s residence. The governor general from 1878 to 1883 was Sir John Douglas Campbell (Lord Lorne, 9th Duke of Argyll). His sister was Lady Evelyn Catherine Campbell and while visiting Canada likely met Bell at Government House. Maybe Bell became a little infatuated, as she was single until 1886.

The digital text of  The Temagami Experience is available at the Internet Archive site. [Click here to access it. Log in to borrow the book for an hour at a time.] I did spend an hour with the text. While I could not find the details mentioned in the above account, the one passage I found put a different spin on it. I read this –

Bell then entered Moozkananing, the haunt of the moose,’ which, consistant with imperial custom, he renamed Lady Evelyn Lake in honour of the sister of the former governor-general, the Marquis of Lorne. Traditions of empire thus began to compete with traditions of nature in the Temagami country. [Hodgins, 52]

While Bell uses the name in a summary report of his 1887 or 1888 fieldwork in the Temagami area, he does not explicitly state it was his idea. (See here for the text.)

This was not the first time Bell had named a lake after someone related to a Canadian Governor-General. In 1875 on his first trip through the region, Bell had renamed a lake that Hodgins says had the local name Negigwaning (“the place of the otter heads”) as Lady Dufferin Lake. Her husband was the Governor-General from 1872 to 1878. One might see it as a way of honouring or, if you lean towards the more cynical,  currying favour with an important political figure.

However, there are problems with Hodgins’ choice of Lady Evelyn Campbell as the Lady Evelyn of the Lake. The first is the timing. His Excellency The Marquis of Lorne was the Governor-General of Canada from 1878-1883, having succeeded Lord Dufferin. If the Lady Evelyn after whom the lake was named was the Marquis of Lorne’s sister, then Bell chose to name it after her at least five years after her brother’s return to England.

How often she would have been in Ottawa for Bell to meet is unclear, although, given the nature of travel back then, it couldn’t have been more than two or three times. [Seven to ten days was typical for the London to Quebec City trip in 1880.]

Did she make that much of an impression on a 40-year-old married man with three children? Born in 1855, she would have been between 23 and 28 when Bell would presumably have met her while she was visiting Rideau Hall from London.

Robert Bell –  the lower middle figure with the beard –  with his field crew in 1881

[Bell was born in 1841; he married in 1873 to Agnes Smith in Glasgow. By 1888 they had two daughters. He joined the Geological Survey of Canada on a full-time basis in 1867 and, by 1879, was promoted to the position of Assistant Director. See here for a brief account of Bell’s life.]

Hodgins’ explanation includes the line – “Maybe Bell became a little infatuated, as she was single until 1886.” It is unclear if this is Hodgins’ view or the Ottertooth writer’s. Given his marital status, It seems unlikely that Bell would so publically try to ingratiate himself to this Lady Evelyn, years after one of her occasional visits to Ottawa and two years after she got married.

If he did so to make a positive impression on her brother, he waited too long! Since the Marquis of Lorne’s appointment ended in 1883, five years before Bell named the lake, it is unlikely that naming it after the ex-G-G or his sister would have earned him any useful credit! Doing so would also have had the current G-G wondering precisely what Bell was implying with his naming gesture!

Update: More time with Hodgins’ book turned up this footnote which states that Evelyn Campbell is the Lady of the Lake without providing any reason why this would be so other than the probability that they might have met in Ottawa while her brother was G-G some five years before she was accorded the honour.


Option #2: Marie Evelyn Moreton/Lady Byng

See here for the image source.

More googling the name “Lady Evelyn” led to another candidate –  Evelyn Byng, Viscountess Byng of Vimy, a former Viceregal Consort of Canada.” Lady Evelyn Byng, the wife of one of Canada’s Governors-General, the one who served from 1921 to 1926. [Note: she is the Lady Byng who donated a trophy to the NHL in 1925 to be awarded to the most gentlemanly player each year.]

This Evelyn was born Marie Evelyn Moreton in 1870 and married Lord Byng in 1902. Since Bell named the lake Lady Evelyn as early as 1888 and maps from 1900 already show the name in use, could Bell really have thought of this Evelyn when he made the choice? She was 33 years from coming to Canada as the wife of a Governor-General!

However, from the late 1870s, when the Marquis of Lorne was the G-G of Canada, Marie Evelyn Moreton’s father had served as the comptroller at the official residence, Rideau Hall. She would have been between eight and thirteen years old during her father’s tenure in Ottawa. If Option #1 is unlikely, then even more so is that Bell would name the lake after the pre-teen daughter of an employee of the Governor-General five years after her family returned to England from their Canada service.


Option #3: Lady Evelyn Selina Louisa Ward (Crichton)

See here for the image source

A third possible Lady Evelyn appeared when I googled my way into “What’s In a Name?” an article by Jennifer McCartney. She had turned to The Encylopedia of Canada for the answer. This particular encyclopedia set dates back to 1935.

Here is what her article has to say –

But there’s intriguing mention of another Lady Evelyn that suggests the lake could be named for a different British aristocrat. This comes via the Encylopaedia of Canada, Volume III that has an entry for Lady Evelyn Lake.

“The lake was so called probably by a tourist or prospector, Member of the Orange Association before 1896 in honour of Evelyn Louisa Salina, daughter of John Henry, 4th Earl of Erne, who was born on 21st July, 1879. The Erne Family has long been associated, as Grand Masters and otherwise with the Orange association. Conjectured date of naming was 1879, shortly after Lady Evelyn’s birth or baptism.”

Lady Evelyn Selina Louisa Crichton was born around the right time for this story to make sense. She later married Gerald Ward, who was killed in the First Battle of Ypres. There’s no evidence this Lady Evelyn travelled to Canada in her lifetime—but the Orange Order was well-established in Canada by this time, and perhaps an enthusiastic Protestant was so inspired by her birth that they named a lake after her.

Thirty years before McCartney’s article, the Reid/Grand classic Canoeing Ontario’s Rivers, depending on the same sources, had made the same assertion.  Their chapter on the Lady Evelyn river began like this –

I checked out the biography of John Henry Crichton, 4th Earl of Erne – the Wikipedia article mentions some children. It did not include a Lady Evelyn Selina Louisa! (See here.) She does, however, appear in other genealogical lists, including these two





[See here for the source.]

One problem with this account is that it attributes the naming not to Robert Bell but to a member of the Orange Order (a militant Protestant Christian group formed in Ulster, Ireland, in the late 1700s). It also dates the name’s first use to the 1870s. Since the name Lady Evelyn is attributed to Bell, who used it in a report in 1888, there are some problems with this Lady Evelyn as the source of the name.

Presumably, her father’s status as an Irish Orange Protestant Grand Master or a defender of Protestant Christianity in Ireland was the main factor that led to her name being chosen. However, none of the online information I found indicated a connection to the Orange Order or his staunch defence of a Protestant Ireland.

In the end, it seems far-fetched that this Evelyn is the answer to the question. It is so obscure that no one would even have known that a statement was being made by naming the lake after her. The tourist alone would not have been able to do any map labelling!   Is it possible that Bell, on meeting this Orange Order member who was visiting the Temagami area, decided that his suggestion made sense? More research into Bell’s religious background may explain why Bell, the son of a Scottish Presbyterian clergyman, would feel compelled to honour some Anglo-Irish peer’s nine-year-old daughter by naming a lake after her!

The passage from McCartney above ends with one last observation – “perhaps an enthusiastic Protestant was so inspired by her birth that they named a lake after her.” It leaves you wanting to know what could have been that inspiring about her birth! She was the fourth of a minor Earl’s six children! As with Hodgins’ use of the word “maybe” before he suggests a romantic yearning prompted Bell’s choice, McCartney’s use of the qualifier “perhaps” is a clue that she is definitely overreaching for an explanation.


Craig Macdonald, the creator of an Ojibwe-language-only map of the Temagami area, has another version of the Robert Bell-John Henry Crichton connection. In an article in Legion: Canada’s Military Magazine (May 2006), the journalist  summarizes what is presumably Macdonald’s explanation like this –

In the 1880s, Robert Bell of the Geological Survey of Canada named it Lady Evelyn Lake after the daughter of an Irish aristocrat of his acquaintance. (source here)

Instead of the Encyclopedia of Canada account of a prospector or tourist suggesting the name (but not indicating to whom),  here Bell himself takes the initiative thanks to a personal relationship with the Earl that he acknowledges by naming a lake after the Earl’s nine-year-old daughter. But why her and not her sister Mabel Florence, born three years later in 1882? Some actual evidence is needed before this Evelyn can be accepted as the answer!


The Ontario Names Board Secretariat Replies

It was around this time, having come up with three less-than-satisfying candidates,  that I gave up on the question! Months later, on noticing that the Ontario Government’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry had an Ontario Names Board Secretariat, I figured I’d send off an email asking about Lady Evelyn and Lady Sydney Lakes. Maybe they had the answer?   I got this prompt reply-

Your request was forwarded to me here at the Ontario Geographic Names Board Secretariat.  I researched our digital historical geographic names records and found the attached official records from our card catalogue of names.

The card states that Lady Evelyn Lake was made official on March 2, 1950 and was “named by a tourist or prospector member of the Orange Assoc., before 1896 after Evelyn Louisa Salina daughter of John Henry 4th Earl of Erne. Presumed date of naming was 1879 shortly after Lady Evelyn’s birth or baptism.” It lists numerous historical map references for this name, as well as some for Evyline Lake and Mattawapika River.

Unfortunately the card for Lady Sydney Lake does not include any origin information.  It was made official on the same day, March 2, 1950.

A shocker, for sure! Here is the card from which the above information was taken –  a section that sounds like that Encyclopaedia of Canada article McCartney quotes.

Ontario Names Board card………. [See here for Lady Sydney. N.B. I cleaned it up!)

Given that the name had appeared on Government of Canada topos since the 1890s, you have to wonder why the name only became official in 1950! Perhaps the federal and provincial governments duplicated the work by having separate naming commissions?

The card refers to Mr. Fullerton, a Surveyor-General of Ontario, as one source of the explanation. C. H. Fullerton is identified as the then- Surveyor-General of the Province of Ontario in a 1938 article, “A Winter Survey” by F.H. Peters. The Liberals ran the provincial government from 1934 to 1943, so his job as surveyor-general probably coincided with those dates. The reference to him is tagged with a WB/’45 which does confuse the issue. Given that it was wartime and his position was not political, he may still have held his job in 1945.

The paragraph on the card is all but identical to the section from the Encyclopedia quoted by McCartney. Fullerton and whoever wrote the paragraph on the card got their information from the entry on Lady Evelyn Lake in the Encyclopedia article mentioned above. The Encyclopedia’s entries were written mainly by W.S. Wallace, who also edited the six-volume set.

Where Wallace found his story – who can say!


More on Lady Evelyn Selena! Hodgins, in his The Temagami Experience (1989), considers the likelihood that she is the Evelyn of the Lake and dismisses it here –


A Side Question Pops Up!

I thought back to Robert Bell and his preference for using Indigenous names. How come he had not used Monskananing or Mooskanaw instead of Lady Evelyn?

In regard to geographical names, we endeavored to ascertain all those used by the Indians, both in reference to places on Lake Nipigon itself and in the surrounding country. These we always adopted in preference to any others. For the correct meaning and mode of spelling the Indian names, I am indebted principally to Mr. Henry De La Roiule, of Poplar Lodge. There are, however, many geographical features for which the Indians appear to have no distinctive names. When names of any other origin existed for these, we always adopted them. There still remained many localities for which we could hear of no designation whatever, and it then became necessary, for the convenience of description, to give names to them.

Was Lady Evelyn Lake a geographical feature for which the Indians appear to have no distinctive name? When names of any other origin existed for these, we always adopted them. Clearly, this was not the case; Barlow mentions the very name in the first quote of this post. While it makes you wonder why he did not just choose the local name,  it also shows that there was no reason for him to accept a name proposed by a tourist to the region intent on celebrating the Loyal Orange Order.

Bell was in the Temagami area in 1887 and 1888. A couple of years later, he was down in the Sudbury area, where a mining boom prompted the need for a better understanding of the area’s geology. In the introductory pages of the report published in 1891 – Report on the Sudbury Mining District – Bell wrote –

In some cases the expressive Indian names which had been m use from time immemorial had been replaced by others on the surveyors’ township plans. In such instances, while accepting the latter, we have also restored the aboriginal designations upon our map. But it was found that many features made known by our explorations and surveys to which frequent reference required to be made, had no names whatever, and to these, for convenience of reference, we were obliged to give some distinguishing appellation.

Was Monskananing not expressive enough? Maybe it was too common? Googling Moose Lake at the Natural Resources Canada topo site turned up over fifty variations! Still, this makes it no different than all the lakes with names like Trout, Long, or Cliff that can also be found in multiple locations on a map of Canada.

And what about – In regard to geographical names, we endeavoured to ascertain all those used by the Indians…These we always adopted in preference to any others? Hodgins states, “Bell then entered Moozkananing, the haunt of the moose,’ which, consistent with imperial custom, he renamed Lady Evelyn Lake…” Given Bell’s overall record and openness to Anishinaabe names, Hodgins’ statement is overly harsh.

The arrival of the Lady Evelyn card scan from the Ontario Names Board and the puzzle about why Bell did not just go with Mooskananing or Monskanaw or some other variant brought me to an impasse! I put the whole thing aside.


Option #4: Lady Evelyn Emily Mary Fitzmaurice/Lady Cavendish after 1892 /the Duchess of Devonshire after 1908

And then, a few days ago and almost a year later, I was mapping this summer’s canoe trip in the Lady Evelyn area. Going through Hap Wilson’s Temagami canoe tripping guidebook, I came across a statement that prompted me to reopen the case of Lady Evelyn of the Lake!

Lady Evelyn Lake lost its Ojibwa title of mons-kaw-naw-ming [sic] or “haunt of the moose” to the wife of the Duke of Devonshire, probably because of the difficulty Whites had in pronouncing Native names. [Temagami, 91]

That glib comment got me wondering. Since Monskananing has no more syllables and is no more difficult to pronounce than Wawiashkashi, TimiskamingBiscotasing, or Matabitchuan,  there had to be a better explanation of how the lake came to be known as Lady Evelyn.   And given that Wilson would have known of Robert Bell and his work with the Geological Survey of Canada, his “probably” prefaces an explanation that he knew was not the case.

The Wilson quote did provide a possible clue – “Duke of Devonshire’. Another British lord! Perhaps finding out who he was might lead to an explanation?


While there is a long list of Dukes of Devonshire, the one with a Canada connection was Victor Cavendish, the ninth in the line. He succeeded his uncle Spenser Compton Cavendish as Duke of Devonshire when he died without an heir in 1908. More to the point, the ninth Duke served as Canada’s Governor-General from 1916 to 1921. However, since his appointment came almost thirty years after Bell named the lake,  this lead did not look too promising!

However, this bit of information provided the possible answer to the question –

He married Lady Evelyn Emily Mary Fitzmaurice, eldest daughter of Lord Lansdowne (Canada’s fifth Governor General), on July 30, 1892.  (See here for the source)

Since the name was already in use by 1900, long before Duke #9 became G-G in 1916, if Monskananing lost its place to anyone, it was to Lady Evelyn as the daughter of Lord Landsdowne and not as the wife of the Duke of Devonshire.

Portrait of Lady Evelyn Cavendish, John Singer Sargent (1902)

Henry Charles Keith Petty-Fitzmaurice, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne, served as Canada’s Governor-General from 1883 to 1888. His wife, Lady Maud Evelyn Hamilton and their four children accompanied him. His eldest daughter, Evelyn Emily Mary, born in 1870, would thus have spent most of her teen years in  Canada.

In 1892, Evelyn married the man who would eventually become the Ninth Duke of Devonshire. As the Duchess of Cavendish, she gave birth to five children, all but the oldest of whom were still alive when she died in 1960.

As noted above, in 1875, Bell had named a nearby Lake Lady Dufferin while her husband served as G-G. Since the name Evelyn was shared by Lord Landsdowne’s wife and daughter – and since they were in the last year of their stay in Ottawa –  naming the lake after one or both of them was probably meant as a final thank-you for their public service to Canada.

Just which of the two did Bell have in mind? Given that his wife was technically Marquessa and Evelyn was only her second name, that leaves their 18-year-old daughter as the most likely person after whom the lake was named!

Unlike Lady Evelyn Campbell, who may have visited Canada a handful of times during her brother’s appointment, this Lady Evelyn spent most of her teen years in Ottawa. She may have been familiar with Bell’s children, though they would have been 10 years younger and closer in age to Evelyn’s younger siblings.

  • Option #1: Lady Evelyn Campbell 
  • Option #2: Marie Evelyn Moreton/Lady Byng
  • Option #3: Lady Evelyn Selina Louisa Ward (Crichton)
  • Option #4:Lady Evelyn Emily Mary Fitzmaurice/the Duchess of Devonshire

Of the four options above, it is #4 which best fits the evidence. The 18-year-old daughter of Lord Landsdowne, Lady Evelyn Emily Mary Fitzmaurice,  is who  Bell named the lake after in 1888, the last year of her father’s term as Governor-General.


Related Post: Temagami’s Lady Evelyn River From Top To Bottom: Introduction and a Bit of History

This entry was posted in Anishinaabek World, Temagami, wilderness canoe tripping. Bookmark the permalink.

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