The Corporation of the District of Burnaby was incorporated under Letters Patent 22 September 1892, named in association with Burnaby Lake. "Burnaby (Municipal District)" confirmed in the 18th Report of the Geographic Board of Canada, 31 March 1924, p.357. Name confirmed 11 February 1936. Re-incorporated as a City Municipality by Order in Council 266/92, 17 February 1992, effective 22 September 1992.
Source: BC place name cards, or correspondence to/from BC's Chief Geographer or BC Geographical Names Office
"Locally the idea has long prevailed that the [namesake] was that of Colonel Fred Burnaby, whose "Ride to Khiva" made him famous. But he was not known to fame until long after the name had been given to the lake, which later gave the name to the municipality.
Mr. J.C. Brown, ex-MPP and others, remember that the name was applied to the lake at least as early as 1862. On the other hand it seemed improbable that New Westminster would have named so considerable a sheet of water at her very doors after a Victoria merchant in 1860 or thereabouts.
After much research, Judge Howay finds that the reason why the name was accepted was because Robert Burnaby, before he became a member of the firm at Victoria, had been secretary to Colonel Moody, RE, in his capacity of Commissioner of Lands and Works. In this capacity he drew up and sold the lots at Queensborough (New Westminster). A second sale of lots took place at New Westminster later, but in the meanwhile, Burnaby had resigned his position as secretary to Moody and joined the commission house in Victoria. As early as January 20, 1860, we find Burnaby registering land in a private capacity. During 1859, in which he served as secretary, Burnaby was in charge of the surveying parties, being then engaged in setting out the lands adjacent to the new capital, and although in 1860 Burnaby had taken up his residence at Victoria, there can be no doubt that his name was attached to the lake with pleasure."
Source: Nelson, Denys; Place Names of the Delta of the Fraser River; 1927, unpublished manuscript held in the Provincial Archives