Chateau Relaxo (and other houses I’ve known)

Comedy post chronic illness house namesSince I first began aimlessly wandering my neighbourhood (a side effect of being sick), I’ve collected nearly 150 house names. I’d passed most of these places many times before, and never paid attention to them. When I was healthy, I always had somewhere to be and something on my mind. Now my mind is desperate for distraction. Also, I walk much slower.

I still find the concept of naming your house quirky, because houses in Canada didn’t have names. It’s as odd to me as if people slapped name plates on their furniture. ‘Welcome, this is our couch, Sylvester, and our loveseat, Wooloomooloo.’ Odd, and oddly endearing.

After collecting so many names, I’ve realised there are a few broad categories the house names fall into. These include:

Place names: this seems to be the most common. Some of the names are obvious, like Indiana, Nebraska, Lochinvar, Chippendale and Austin. Others are less obvious, but on researching them, they turn out to be more obscure place names. Clutha is a town in New Zealand, Uralla is in New South Wales, and even Chelveston is a town in England.

Women’s names: Many of the houses also have women’s names, such as Shirley, EvelynElvira, Isabella, Tara, and Edna. Women, like houses, cars and boats, are basically property, right?

Roses, because people like roses, I guess: Eden RoseRosebank, Rosebriar, Rosedale

I’ve also discovered a few standout names:
Best Australian film reference: Bonnie-Doon 
Worst Bart Simpson reference: Kalamunda
Best language mash-up: Chateau Relaxo

And the award for most inappropriate house name … Pompei!
Comedy post chronic illness house namesI’m curious about the train of thought that led the owners to name their house after the site of an infamous volcano eruption that killed numerous people. Sure, it happened 2000 years ago, but the violent destruction of a community is still the first thing people will think about when they visit. You may as well name your house World War II.

Here is the complete list of house names I’ve discovered since my original post in April:
house names chronic illness comedy

The real question is this: what would I name my house, assuming I could ever afford one? When I lived in South Korea, my apartment building was steam heated, and the pipes creaked and groaned through the winter. I referred to my apartment as The Belly of the Iron Dragon, which lacks a certain lyricism, I’ll admit.

I assume in the case of houses with place names, the names refer to where the owners’ families came from. If this is the case, I could name my future house Winnipeg, or The Peg or even Peggers. But since I live Down Under, I could broaden this tradition and name it Up Over. While I’m still waiting for the cost of housing to miraculously drop, maybe I’ll name my sofa.

Hit me up with house names, if your neighbourhood has some good ones. I’m eager for more!


11 responses to “Chateau Relaxo (and other houses I’ve known)”

  1. Yes I thought of Emoh Ruo as soon as I saw the article title.

    I think part of the history behind house names is that large outback properties were often known by a name in the absence of named roads. People in the city possibly aspiring to a homestead gave names to their more humble abodes.

    These names were recorded on the early council registers and houses were often identified by their name and suburb. Street address not required. The Post Office would routinely deliver to so addressed letters.

    In my suburb of Willoughby there used to be a Coventry (presumably after the English city).

    There’s also similarly a Tyneside after the river in Newcastle, UK. And a Rosewall possibly after a local stand of roses or a corruption of the surname Rosewell, related to the original owners.

    Before it was subdivided 70 plus years ago, there was a Devon where my parents’ house now stands, according to council records.

    There was a Bonnie Doon golf course around Arncliffe predating the movie, I think.

    Been thinking similarly as to what I’d name my house. Calcutta for my parents’ birth city, but maybe too evocative. They met whilst living in the suburb of Garden Reach in Calcutta, which is more generic, so that’s a contender.

    Recently I’ve been toying with Ararat. To at least reclaim the name, if not the mountain. Feel free to go with that option.

    There’s an Australian tv series called Who’s Been Sleeping in My Bed, researching the history of people’s houses. One in Tasmania was named Oljato, which they thought might have had an Aboriginal heritage, but *spoiler alert* it turned out to be North American, possibly Navaho.

    Cars are often nicknamed here too. Our old Ford station wagon was “officially” Elizabeth but affectionately shortened to Lizzie. Also appropriate for a Ford.


    • Fascinating, Peter, thanks for sharing. Garden Reach is a lovely name, not too strange, but also memorably unique. And of course Ararat is a wonderful option! So interesting also to think of a Navaho word ending up on a house in Tasmania.


  2. Thanks Ashley.

    Just going through your list. I thought of a few other recurring themes.

    Foreign language sourced names. Phrases as well as locations. Te Whare Iti sounds Maori.

    Also backward spelling like Emoh Ruo and Yasmar (I’ll bet).

    I’ve also seen combining the first syllables of two or more names, often of a couple or siblings. Or variations of that. Can’t make any of these out on your list, but have seen elsewhere.


  3. I think trying to be clever but in a simple way that’s easy to explain. Like pig latin.

    Guessing a lot of people’s reactions when it’s explained would often be one of surprise that they hadn’t spotted it. And that’s what the namers could be going for, in part.

    I’m thinking it’s too widespread for most instances to be sinister.


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