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Did You Know: There’s a Small Township Called Sarawak in Ontario, Canada


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Source: Grey County & Wikimedia Commons

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Affectionately known as the Land of the Hornbills, Sarawak holds its glory as one of the most mystical and beautiful states of Malaysia. But would it surprise you to know that, in fact, this location isn’t the only place in the world that’s called Sarawak?

Taking our sleuthing all the way to The Great White North, WORLD OF BUZZ recently came across a very interesting and insightful fact: There is a town in Ontario, Canada, which is called Sarawak. Shocking, isn’t it?

But how exactly did this town in the West adapt the name of a state so close to home for us?

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Image of Sarawak, Malaysia.


Some background on Canadian colonisation

Bringing it back to the 19th century, the namesake of a town called Sarawak in Canada began in the 1850s, as according to a post by historical information provider, Borneo Oracle.

In 1856, the region in Ontario known as Sarawak today was amalgamated with another area, known today as Keppel. At the beginning, this land within Canada was inhabited by the indigenous community of America, which is now known more commonly as American Indians or Native Americans.

Native Americans of Canada in the 1800s.

However, the subsequent encroachment and colonisation of this land by white British settlement eventually brought a new name to this location, which was Owen Sound. This caused the Native Indians in this location to migrate to an area in the East Coast of the Peninsula, known as Cape Croker.

Owen Sound 1881 Img 239 Cropped
Owen Sound in the 1850s.

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Owen Sound in the 1850s.


In 1857, this land was then handed over to the British as well, with it’s name changing once more to Nawash Reserve

Originally, the name of the land had been altered to Nawash Reserve to commemorate the community’s leader, Chieftain Nawash, after it was given to the English.

Shortly after the name was changed, however, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Lord Bury, whose real name was William Coutts Keppel, took it upon himself to rename the location AGAIN.

And this time – you guessed it – he renamed Nawash Reserve to Sarawak.

Lord Bury Cycling
Image sketch of William Coutts Keppel, otherwise known as Lord Bury.


But, why Sarawak? Yes, it is related to Malaysia’s Sarawak!

Sir James Brooke, who ruled as the first White Rajah of Sarawak from 1841 until 1868, was publicly known as a former British Army Serviceman, having served under the British Indian Army. At the time, Lord Bury was among the government officials working when Brooke was in the army.

Referenced as having nothing short of impeccable loyalty towards Lord Bury, even after his election as the White Rajah, Sir James Brooke was said to have gone to Canada on multiple occasions when making trips to return to his home country.

Sir James Brooke.

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Sketch of Sir James Brooke with the Sultan of Brunei.

Therefore, in remembrance of Sir James Brooke’s friendship and dedication, Lord Bury decided to name a small town located on the outskirts, of what is now known as Ontario, in conjunction with the name of the location Brooke ruled; Sarawak.

Originally, the location was referred to as the Sarawak-Keppel Township, with the latter compound of Keppel signifying Lord Bury’s family name. A number of years later in 1868, the singular township was officially split to represent their own townships of Sarawak and Keppel.

Township Of Sarawak And Keppel Grey County Ontario 1880
Map of the Sarawak & Keppel Township in Ontario, 1880.


So, what does Sarawak in Ontario look like now?

As of 1 January 2001, the Sarawak Township was amalgamated with the townships of Derby, Keppel, and the village of Shallow Lakes to make up the Georgian Bluffs, a location in rural Ontario.

In a write-up on the Township of Georgian Bluffs‘ page, Sarawak represents the smallest municipality of the land when compared to other regions in the Georgian Bluffs.

Northwinds High
Sarawak Family Park in Ontario, Canada.

But don’t be fooled by this humble location, as Sarawak in Ontario has numerous adventure-filled locations one can travel to for a nature-filled activities, including the Niagara Escarpment, the Georgian Bay Shoreline, and the Indian Falls waterfall.

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Indian Falls waterfall.


Well wouldn’t you have it, I guess there’s another Sarawak we should all pay a visit to!


Also read: Did You Know: Kuala Lumpur Used to Be the Capital City of Selangor Until the Mid-1970s

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Source: Grey County
Source: Grey County

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