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9 Places In Quebec With The Weirdest Names (& Back Stories)

Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! Nuff said.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
A welcome sign to Saint-Tite next to a gold cowboy statue. Right: Someone points at the road sign for Saint-Pie.

A welcome sign to Saint-Tite next to a gold cowboy statue. Right: Someone points at the road sign for Saint-Pie.

You're on a road trip in Quebec and the next exit advertises "Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!" which sounds like it's either the funniest place in the province or part of the Joker's origin story. While you should definitely pull over to snap a pic with the excessively exclamatory road sign, you should also know the story behind the name.

And it's not the only quirky Quebec locale on the map. A quick look at Google Maps shows many other towns with mystifying monikers, here are a few standouts (along with the reasons behind them):

La Tuque, Quebec

\u200bThe La Tuque coat of arms features a pointy winter cap.

The La Tuque coat of arms features a pointy winter cap.

Ville de La Tuque | Facebook

If Canada is America's hat, then La Tuque is Quebec's… well, tuque. The municipality, northwest of Quebec City, was named in the early 1820s for a pointy mountain peak that some say resembles a kind of knitted cap worn in winter.

Since then, the term 'tuque' has been adopted across Canada to describe cold-weather headwear featuring a tassel or pom-pom. La Tuque has fully embraced the connection, even featuring a Sorting-Hat-esque emblem on its coat of arms.

These days, the feather in the town's cap is the popular annual canoe race, La Classique internationale de canots de la Mauricie, which starts in La Tuque.

Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!, Quebec​

\u200bA Canada Post sign in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!

A Canada Post sign in Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!

Scazon | Flickr

This municipality not only won a Guinness World Record for the "most exclamation marks in a town name," but it probably also has the most Instagrammed road sign in the province.

Located along Highway 85, a main route to and from New Brunswick, so many visitors are charmed by the town's name that the official Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! government website has added a link right under the main city logo to explain it.

It turns out that "haha" is an outdated French word for an obstructed route, although the founders of the town seemingly hit no obstacles when choosing to emphasize each "ha" in the town's name with an exclamation point. They also went on to name other geographic sites, like Lac Ha! Ha!, Petit lac Ha! Ha! and Baie des Ha! Ha! (which could all replace the chorus in this Flight of the Conchords song).

Centuries-old trolling aside, Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! has some lovely features, including the ASTER Observatory and Celestial Garden that honours the Perseid meteor shower.

Trois-Pistoles, Quebec

\u200bA waterfront part of Trois-Pistoles.

A waterfront part of Trois-Pistoles.

@villedetroispistoles | Instagram

This south shore town near Rimouski isn't gunning for unwanted association with firearms, even if it is kind of a destination for game hunters.

Instead, it's named for an expensive goblet worth three pistoles, or Spanish gold coins, that sailors lost in the Saint Lawrence River sometime during the 17th century. In the moment, one of them probably yelled, "câlisse," and rightly so.

Now, Trois-Pistoles houses Canada's oldest French immersion program, which dates back to 1932, along with an annual sustainability-themed music festival, Le Festival Échofête de Trois-Pistoles, that encourages going green.

Cap-Chat, Quebec

A sign for a roadside stop in Cap-Chat.

A sign for a roadside stop in Cap-Chat.

@vervillemarcoux | Instagram

A feline-shaped rock formation was the likely catalyst for the name of this picturesque waterside town near Gaspé, although there is a Mi'kmaq legend about a fairy turning a ravenous cat into stone on the beach.

The area now purrs with nearly a hundred turbines, including the world's tallest wind-power generator that reaches 110 m (over 360 ft).

Vide-Poche, Quebec

\u200bVide-Poche on the map.

Vide-Poche on the map.

Google Maps.

This pocket of land, north of Yamachiche, is one of many sites called 'Vide-Poche' that can be traced from Quebec into the Southern U.S.

It has some academics scratching their heads about the origin of the name. Some attribute it to the influx of Acadians who settled the area in the 18th century and then moved to Louisiana, calling it "the heir of an oral tradition from France."

Of course, the name is much more awkward now given the colloquial Quebecois meaning of 'poche,' or scrotum, and 'vider la poche' being slang for ejaculating… No wonder it continues to arouse interest.

Saint-Tite, Quebec

\u200bA golden statue of a cowboy on a bucking horse next to a welcome sign for Saint-Tite.

A golden statue of a cowboy on a bucking horse next to a welcome sign for Saint-Tite.

Ville de Saint-Tite | Facebook

This Quebec town is not named after the littlest saint, nor his nipple. It actually pre-dates the Quiet Revolution, when the province still suckled at the church's teat and named many places after holy figures — in this case, Saint-Tite, or Saint Titus in English.

Leather is a major export of the area, north of Trois-Rivières, which attracted the annual Festival Western St-Tite back in the 60s. It still proudly celebrates all things cowboy every September. There's a huge rodeo arena in the town, saloons and the festival often welcomes country music stars — although Céline Dion also performed there once!

Saint-Pie, Quebec

\u200bA tree in Saint-Pie decorated with illuminated spheres.

A tree in Saint-Pie decorated with illuminated spheres.

Loisirs et Culture Ville de Saint-Pie | Facebook

If there's nothing more American than apple pie, then there's nothing more Quebecois than naming places after Pie, the pope kind. That goes for Montreal's Pie-IX metro station and Saint-Pie in Montérégie, located an hour southwest of Montreal. For those seeking heavenly pie: try some authentic tourtière.

L'Ange-Gardien, Quebec

\u200bA field covered with the L'Ange-Gardien city logo.

A field covered with the L'Ange-Gardien city logo.

Municipalité de L'Ange-Gardien - Côte de Beaupré | Facebook

Arguably, there are angels in the outfield during soccer games in this quiet suburb of Québec City. The town was named after a church parish from 1664, whose bishop hoped to call on "the protection of the spiritual creatures responsible for watching over people," according to an informal history of the area.

It's not the only place in the province named after winged religious figures, however. There's also a municipality named L'Ange Gardien along Highway 10 near Montreal that's a godsend for longhaul truckers who often stop by to fill up on gasoline and fast food.

Asbestos Hill, Quebec

A former city sign for Asbestos, now called Val-des-Sources.

A former city sign for Asbestos, now called Val-des-Sources.

Ville de Val-des-Sources | Facebook

Quebec is rife with large underground deposits of asbestos, a heat-resistant but hazardous substance used in construction materials until as recently as 1999. The mineral fibre was mined across the province for centuries, sprouting towns around mining sites, many of which carried the name of the cancer-causing compound.

You may remember the former city of Asbestos in Estrie, around 90 minutes from Montreal, which was renamed Val-des-Sources in 2020 to dust off its image.

But digging into the province's mining town history shows it wasn't the only place carrying the weight of the past. There's still Asbestos Hill in Northern Quebec, which held the region's first-ever mine. It was worked by Inuit men who had just graduated from residential schools in the 60s and 70s and were looking for work. Families of former workers, many of whom have since died of cancer, believe their deaths may have been related to asbestos exposure.

    Sofia Misenheimer
    MTL Blog, Associate Editor
    Sofia Misenheimer is an Associate Editor for MTL Blog focused on gas prices in Montreal and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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