Snye (Definition + Citations)

Stephen Roti stephen_roti1 at YAHOO.COM
Fri Jan 19 23:23:21 UTC 2001

Still concerning "snye":

Whoever is interested can read the following
definition of the word, which is offered by the
1998 Canadian Oxford Dictionary (ed., Katherine
Barber; Oxford University Press).

According to the COD, "sny" is a regional Canadianism
that is prevalently heard or seen in the eastern part
of Ontario (apparently, not in the Maritime

 snye = n. 1 (Eastern Ontario) a side channel,
especially one that bypasses a falls or rapids
and rejoins the main river downstream, creating
an island.
2 a narrow or meandering side channel, especially one
that comes to a dead end.
2 b such a channel used by bush pilots for landing
[Canadian French chenail, French 'chenal' (channel)]

FWIW,  I also made a little search in my lexical
Canadian corpus, and I have come up with a couple
of citations [here in CAPITALS]. They are both
taken from newspaper articles published in 1997
in the Ottawa Citizen, the major daily circulating
in the country's capital region. Here they are:

TITLE: Discover history, natural wonder
BY: Katharine Fletcher
SOURCE:  The Ottawa Citizen, October 18, 1997, p. B8

"(...) And further west on Highway 148, there's a
turnoff to the Coulonge Chutes -- a spectacular
natural phenomenon. The falls drop 48 metres to a
narrow, 750-metre rock-walled canyon.
A Scottish entrepreneur, Mr. Bryson was 22 when he
ventured to the Pontiac in 1835. He obtained the
timber rights to the area and, by 1843, was operating
the first sawmill at the chutes. By 1854, he and
his wife, Robina Cobb, had started construction on an
imposing neo-classic post-and-beam home that overlooks
the covered bridge. The clapboard facade hides the
insulation of lime and sand that
fills the walls.
(...)  The third stone mansion is the Rabb House,
built for Mr. Bryson's daughter at 224 Rue Principale.
It overlooks the SNYE (backwater arm) of the Coulonge
River and, in 1938, became the home of Dr. Rabb
and family. (...)"

TITLE: Victorian Glory: Guests journey through time
and elegance
BY: Collette Blain
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen, July 12, 1997, p. J1

"(...) We lingered a long time in the lounge, until
our appetites lured us to the dining room. Morgan
showed us to a table by the window that offered an
excellent front lawn view of the white pines and
St.Andrew's Presbyterian. Next to it, there is a
path that leads to a dock on the "SNYE'', an inlet
of the Ottawa River, more like a canal or "chenail''
in French. (...)"

* Some ADS listers previously thus wrote or commented
on "snye":

"'Snye' or 'sny' is a Canadianism meaning a side
channel of a stream (Gage Canadian Dict., 1983).
Etym: "From Canadian French chenail; cf French chenal
channel"  I don't have my Dict of Canadianisms (1967)
on hand so can't check the dates or cites, but I seem
to associate it with the Maritimes, for some reason


Sorry it's taken me so long to track down this
citation, for what it's worth. "Sni, Sny French
chenal, appearing in American French as chenail, as a
generic for a natural, narrow passageway of water,
became Sny in American usage, and appears as a
specific in a few names, chiefly in Mo.  Sniabar Creek
Mo.; either from chenail-a-barre, 'sny with a bar
(blockage),' or from chenail-a-Hubert (Hebert) from
the name of a local French family." George R. Stewart,
American Place-Names (1970)


"Earlier I said that the roadmaps had the "Sny" on the
Illinois side of the Mississippi opposite Hannible MO
or just below.  I must have misremembered. It's not on
the Rand McNally roadmap.  It IS on the DeLorme
"Illinois Atlas and Gazeteer" maps 57 & 66 (2nd ed.
1996), but it is not a bayou.  It looks like a creek
that runs parallel to the big river, meandering
through the bottoms between the river and the bluffs,
in both Pike and Calhoun counties. Victoria's and
other notes indicate it is likely a voyageur place
name, since it seems to be Canadian."


(Dr.) Stephen Roti
Lexical researcher

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