People ask me “What’s it like being back in Canada after 14 years away?”.

I have a few observations:

  1. Suburbs have been commercialized, and their commercial buildings look like they’ve been designed by Tupperware. Big boxes made of ticky-tack and they all look just the same. 
  2. People love hockey a little too much, but being part of a hockey pool is fun. Pools are the original computerized social networks, but on a much smaller scale (12 is a good number).
  3. While picking players in our annual hockey pool draft last Sunday, I noticed that most of the NHL players still have normal Canadian first names like Keith, Dave, Mark and Kevin. This will change in 2020.

How do I know first names of NHL’ers will be different in 2020? Because 18 years before 2020, in 2002, Canadian parents went nuts over-differentiating on their children’s names. Last names are the new first names.

Here are a few of my son’s (born 2003) friends’ names: Jamieson, Clinton (really?), Riley, Jackson, Mason, Dixon (I kid you not), McKenzie.

Hanging out at the park where my younger son (born 2008) likes to hang out, I rejoice when I hear a real first name – they are a rare breed. On a side note, George is one real first name that is back in fashion.

What’s my point? When naming, with brands and with people, do not name just to differentiate. Greeks may be overzealous by recommending naming children after grandparents, and requiring that each name can be connected either to a saint or “almost-saint”, but the fundamentals are correct.

Names should be fairly unique, but a general question to ask should be “can I predict there will be maximum one other kid in his/her future first grade class with that same name.” Having a namesake in your class creates a special bond with that person that most of the time wouldn’t exist. Just ask George Bradley (otherwise known as George B. to my George P.) from my Grade 1 to 5 class. Our mutual respect was stronger because of our shared name.

Names should have heritage. Not necessarily nationalistic heritage, although it’s often fun, but understanding your past is a way of guiding your future. Ask grandparents about family history and interesting people in your family, and pick first names of people that you liked, or would have liked.

Names shouldn’t define a person. They should sound nice, and the name should take on a new, deeper meaning because of the amazing person who fills it with meaning.

And speaking of ticky-tack, my namesake George Bradley who was a down-to-earth farmer’s kid in Navan, Ontario (for the non-Greeks, George means “farmer”), sold the old farm to create Bradley Estates, a massive suburban development in Ottawa. Sure the houses look the same, but man-oh-man was that kid with 2 first names successful.

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. I miss Jeff. And Marianne. My kids will never go to school with a Jeff or Marianne.

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Brand Reminders, Naming