Over the years school children have been taught about the naval exploits of Captain James Cook and his exploration of the Pacific Ocean.
School text books would show pictures of this austere English naval officer, exhibiting little indication of his inner larrikin.
It would appear that as Cook spent years meticulously charting the oceans of the world, he and his fellow officers would enjoy more than a few jokes about the places they visited.
They would give a place a title – in truth often quite risque, before using more respectable nomenclature when inscribing the new bays, mountains, islands and inlets on the ornate charts they would prepare for the British Admiralty.
This was especially the case when the 34-year-old Cook and his surveyor assistant Michael Lane explored the area around Newfoundland, in what is now eastern Canada.
There were a couple of islands that vaguely resembled a woman’s bust. Cook and Lane had their own name, but on the charts they sedately became The Twins. Among others which retain the cheeky names given by Cook are Tickle Bay, Come by Chance, Witless Bay and Blow Me Down (after Cook’s vessel HMS Grenville was hit by a storm).
In Newfoundland, the locals have seen a recent influx of Australian tourists. It seems the Aussies have discovered the larrikin in Cook and want to take selfies at some of these places.
Word of mouth has spread and the Canadian tourist chiefs are laughing all the way to the bank. The jewel in the crown is the picturesque town of Dildo, where visitors line up to be photographed next to the sign at the entrance to the main street, at the post office, and over the doors of many shops.
The origin of the name is a mystery. At the time, the word dildo was not generally synonymous with its usage these days. Some locals reckon Cook named it after a Spanish sailor named Dildoe. Others claim it to be an archaic oblong piece of nautical gear.
A commemorative festival takes place there in late July, when a flotilla of fishing boats circles the adjacent harbour, led by a wooden statue of a certain Captain Dildo in a yellow oilskin.
Over the years, a handful of Dildoians have had second thoughts about the name. In 1990, a local electrician even started a public campaign to have Dildo rechristened. He was nearly run out of town.