05/22/2013 04:54 EDT | Updated 07/22/2013 05:12 EDT

Boy names fall from the sky; 12 girls a Princess as Alberta sets birth record

EDMONTON - In a record-setting year for babies in Alberta, the names Liam and Emma came out on top.

And, according to birth records for 2012, Liam and Emma may eventually go to school with Skeeter, Thunderbolt and Icarus.

They might join the school band with Lyric, Symphony and Chorus or just jam with Adele, Lennon and Hendrix.

They could join the debate club with Nixon, Reagan and Kennedy, or go on a field trip with Cairo, Boston, Rio, Denver, Memphis, Montana, Alabama, Ireland and Germany.

Or perhaps young Margret-Joan-Jean might just want to chill out in the back yard with her friends Brooklin, Brooklen, Brookelyn, Brooklynn and Brooklyne.

"People in Alberta have boldness. They live with gusto," Manmeet Bhullar, cabinet minister in charge of vital statistics, said Wednesday.

"It seems as if people are becoming more and more open to having names that are unique, names that are one of a kind."

Bhullar announced the names while surrounded by young moms and wee ones at a play centre on Edmonton's south side.

Liam was the most popular boys name for the third year in a row. There were 281 families who opted for the moniker.

There were 299 families who named their newborn girl Emma, vaulting the name from third to regain top spot from Olivia.

Why are Liam and Emma so popular?

"I don't know, Bhullar said. "What's a minister to say why people are picking that particular name. I mean, it's just a beautiful name, right? Liam and Emma."

Bhullar said there were 52,398 births — 27,030 boys and 25,368 girls — in the province last year. That surpasses the previous record of 51,505 set in 2009.

There were 5,979 distinct boy names and 7,158 distinct girl names. The information came from hospitals and birthing centres with a finalized list expected later this year.

The bolder names were Dancing-Sunflower, Rhaney-Day, Shy-Angel, Beautiful, Little, Horizon and Brave.

Parents with more of a spiritual bent welcomed Divinity, Eternity, Heaven and Rainbow.

There were still a number of Kates and Williams to honour the British royal couple's visit to Alberta in 2011. And a royal trend that started that year continued in 2012 with King, Prince and Lord appearing for boys and Princess showing up 12 times for girls.

Some names are rejected, said Bhullar.

"If somebody wanted to name their child in a way that was demeaning to the child we would obviously not allow that to happen," he said.

"Or if somebody wanted to name their child without having any letters in the name, that's also a challenge. For example, if somebody just wanted to stick a period on a piece of paper and say, 'That's the child's name,' we would have some issues with that."

For would-be parents who are stumped or for those just curious about natal nomenclature, Bhullar said there's now an app for that.

Albertans can download the free Alberta Baby Names app for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. It has more than 81,000 Alberta baby names and their popularity ranking going back to 1980.

Rounding out the top 10 girl names for 2012 were Olivia, Emily, Sophia, Ava, Lilly, Ella, Isabella, Abigail and Chloe.

For boys the list included Ethan, Jacob, Logan, Mason, Benjamin, Lucas, Alexander, Carter and Noah.

In terms of the baby boom, Calgary led the way with 18,000 births.

Edmonton had 15,236, followed by Red Deer (2,650), Lethbridge (2,384), Grande Prairie (1,846), Medicine Hat (1,100) Fort McMurray (1,400) and Lac La Biche (167).