Cody agreed and said he was sorry he could be of so little help. He suggested I call another federal agency, the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names. I did and spoke to Kathleen O'Brien, a toponymist, i.e., a student of topographical names. O'Brien obtained the file card.
There were only two main entries. In the 1820s John Richardson, a surgeon-naturalist serving under John Franklin, the first white explorer of many Arctic regions, had traveled in the vicinity of Great Bear Lake and thereafter made a map of the territory. Richardson designated the peninsula in question as Gaiet-Thella Hill.
(Franklin and Richardson are old, if noncorporeal acquaintances. In a previous outing, John and I and some others had become semideranged from fatigue, hunger and anxiety while trying to follow the route used by these two in 1821 (SI, July 8, 1974).
The only other seemingly relevant note in the file indicated that on Jan. 15, 1945, the peninsula was officially named the Scented Grass Hills and has been so called on maps ever since. O'Brien said there was no translation of Richardson's Gaiet-Thella, nothing to show that name was connected with the present one.
So that is that, and fine with me. After all, the mystery of the name was an excuse for going to the place, and having been there I am as well pleased to let the mystery remain.