How Parry Sound Got the Name

By: Leaftech

When someone is speaking about Parry Sound, there may be a number of places to which they are referring. Parry Sound is the name of smaller bay in the huge Georgian Bay of Lake Huron; the Sound itself has lent its name to an electoral district around the bay and of course to the town of Parry Sound located at its tip. So how did this particularly widely applied name come into existence in the first place? Like many older Canadian towns and cities, Parry Sound takes its name from the days of exploration, although in a more roundabout way than you might at first expect. Let's take a quick look at a couple of the key figures.

Captain Henry Bayfield

Lake Huron was first mapped out entirely by Henry Wolsey Bayfield, a Royal Navy Surveyor who lived in Canada. He conducted the first hydrographical survey done on Lake Huron in 1822, at the age of 27. He also conducted surveys of Lake Superior and charted the St. Lawrence River, and was eventually named as an admiral in the British Navy.

With all of that exploring, it was inevitable that Bayfield would have the opportunity to name several important geographic features during his expeditions. Of course, you might already be thinking that obviously this article is not about Bayfield Sounds. Bayfield did indeed have his name commemorated in the nomenclature of some towns and geographic features, but was not egotistical enough to name every feature he encountered up to himself. So, while he did christen Parry Sound under that name, he did so in order to commemorate another man.

Sir William Edward Parry

Upon the discovery of the sound in the Georgian Bay, Bayfield decided to name the feature after then captain (although by his death he was a rear admiral) William Edward Parry. Remember that Bayfield was a young man at the time of this discovery, and likely enamoured with the success of his peer in terms of rank at the time. At close to the same age as Bayfield (30), Parry had completed a voyage to the Arctic Circle which had never before been accomplished, journeying by ship halfway from Greenland to the Bering Strait, and concluding that the Northwest Passage was an impossible journey with the ships available at the time. Parry made this voyage in 1820 and was considered a hero to the exploring arms of the British Navy.

It is likely that, as he lived his life in England, the man after whom Parry Sound was named never actually saw the geographic feature. Nevertheless, it stands as a tribute from one of the British Navy's most influential explorers to another. Incidentally, a crater on the moon also received its name from Parry, although in this case it was unlikely that he was in fact the first to document its existence.

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