Canadian, Texas

Canadian is a city in and the county seat of Hemphill County, Texas, United States. The population was 2,649 at the 2010 census. It is named for the Canadian River, a tributary of the nearby Arkansas River. Incorporated in 1908, Canadian is sometimes called “the oasis of the High Plains.” Canadian is on the eastern side of the Texas Panhandle adjacent to Oklahoma.

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It is unclear why the river is called the Canadian. On John C. Fremont’s route map of 1845, the river’s name is listed as “Goo-al-pah or Canadian River” from the Comanche and Kiowa name for the river (Kiowa gúlvàu, (IPA: [gúdl-p’ɔː]) ‘red river’). In 1929 Muriel H. Wright wrote that the Canadian River was named about 1820 by French traders who noted another group of traders from Canada (Canadiens) had camped on the river near its confluence with the Arkansas River.

According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Spanish explorers in the 17th and 18th centuries called it the Rio Buenaventura and the Magdalena. The upper part was called Rio Colorado by the Spanish.

A more recent explanation comes from William Bright, who wrote that the name is “probably derived from Río Canadiano”, a Spanish spelling of the Caddo word káyántinu, which was the Caddos’ name for the nearby Red River.

The name could be of Spanish origin from the word cañada (meaning “glen”), as the Canadian River formed a steep canyon in northern New Mexico and a somewhat broad canyon in Texas. A few historical records document this explanation. Edward Hale, writing in 1929, considered the French origin of the name most probable.

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I’m pretty sure there is no American in Canada. But there is a Arizona, Manitoba.

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