What if you were given the responsibility of naming a street, mountain or even an island. A lot would heavily hinge on your mood at the time. Or perhaps a particularly unpleasant experience would leave a land mass forever tarnished.
Whatever the reason, some places have been saddled with unfortunate names. But what’s the real story behind their mapping? Damien Rudd’s Instagram account @sadtopographies already has more than 75k followers, and he’s now written a book on the topic.
Discover the upsetting truth about these negative spaces…
Sorrow Islands, Canada
One way to express grief is by naming an archipelago after your problems. Nineteenth century surveyor Daniel Pender did just that when he discovered his family had fallen victims of the plague.
Mournfully, he set off for British Columbia three years later, where he was tasked to survey the coastline on a vessel called Devastation. Now he was hardly going to coin those island joyous, was he?
Massacre Island, Canada
Canada’s beaver fur trade was booming in the 18th century, with Europeans flocking to make money out of the animal skins. The indigenous people weren’t quite so happy about foreigners plundering their resources, and one group of Frenchmen came to a very sticky end.
Missing for some time, they were found on an island, decapitated and wrapped in beaver skins. One was even decorated with garters, bracelets and porcupine quills. What a way to go…
Disappointment Island, New Zealand
Imagine being shipwrecked on a barren, windswept island thrashed by the fierce Southern Ocean. You’d be pretty disappointed too, wouldn’t you? So spare some pity for the 15 castaways of the Dundonald, a wheat-laden vessel heading from Sydney to England.
One was so miserable he passed away after 12 days. while others managed to eventually escape on a makeshift craft, their rescue mission was subject to many unsatisfactory delays.
Deception Island, Antarctica
At one time filled by bloody whale carcasses and ships powered by dead penguins, this blackened and bleak caldera of an active volcano has a sorry past. The name derives from its unusual geography; on the outside it looks like a regular island.
Whalers have long gone and now it’s popular with tourists, who come here to swim in the (relatively) warm polar waters. So perhaps some stories do have a happy ending after all.
Sad Topographies by Damien Rudd and illustrated by Kateryna Didyk costs £20.