Only Two Towns in the World Have an Exclamation in Their Name

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There are only two towns in the world that have an exclamation mark as part of their formal name.

These two towns are Westward Ho! in Britain and Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! in Canada.

Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! 

Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! was named in 1874. Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! is located in Bas-Saint-Laurent region of Quebec, Canada.

The Ha!-Ha! part of the town’s name isn’t meant to be a laugh but refers to archaic French “le haha” which means an impasse according to the Commission de Toponymie de Québec. This impasse could be attributed to Lake Témiscouata which lies a few kilometers away from the town.

1911 map by the Department of Interior, Canada showing the location of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. Source: David Rumsey Map Collection.
1911 map by the Department of Interior, Canada showing the location of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!. Center of clipped ma view below TEMISCOUATA. Source: David Rumsey Map Collection.

Others put forth a different hypothesis as to the origins of the town’s name. In 2017, Mayor Sonia Larrivée postulated that the Ha! Ha! in the name could have been from the arrival of French shippers, arriving at the road that ends at Lake Lake Témiscouata, proclaiming “Ha!” to celebrate arriving at their destination.

Saint-Louis-du-Ha!-Ha! is the only town in the world with two exclamation marks in its name.

Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is a village located on the coast near Devon in England. The village was named after Charles Kingsley’s novel Westward Ho! which was published in 1855 and set in the nearby port town of Bideford.

1905 Ordnance Survey map showing Westward Ho!
1905 Ordnance Survey map showing Westward Ho!

The phrase “Westward Ho!” originates from the signs on boat-taxis along the River Thames in the 19th century that would advertise the direction they were traveling. The “ho!” is a greeting to potential customers.

Developers wanted to take advantage of the best-selling novel’s popularity to attract tourism to the area. The Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company, a consortium of 13 businesses, was formed in 1863.

The town has since moved towards more residential development. Westward Ho! is know for its pebbled beaches and surfing.

Photo of the beach at Westward Ho! in England.
Westward Ho! – beach
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Chris Allen – geograph.org.uk/p/3437549

References

Banerjee, S., & Canadienne, L. P. (2017, September 20). La municipalité de Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! entre dans Les records Guinness. L’actualité. https://lactualite.com/actualites/la-municipalite-de-saint-louis-du-ha-ha-inscrite-aux-records-guinness/

Most exclamation marks in a town name. (n.d.). Guinness World Records. https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/452331-most-exclamation-marks-in-a-town-name

The history of westward Ho!, North Devon, how the village was created. (n.d.). Tourist information for Westward Ho!, North Devon, UK. https://www.visitwestwardho.co.uk/history

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