Search for "map"

Displaying 1-10 of 10 results

National Topographic System

The National Topographic System is a standardized method of mapping. Natural Resources Canada uses the system to produce maps that depict the country’s natural and man-made features (e.g. lakes, rivers, railways and roads). Instituted in 1927, today the NTS uses two scales: 1:50,000 and 1:250,000. In the 1:50,000 scale, 1 cm on the map represents 500 m on the ground. In the 1:250,000 scale, 1 cm on the map represents 2.5 km on the ground. Maps using the 1:50,000 scale are used for a variety of purposes, for example, recreational activities and real estate and highway planning. Because maps using the 1:250,000 scale cover a larger area in less detail, they are better suited for reconnaissance and road-tripping. (See also Cartography in Canada: 1763–Second World War.)


Cartography in Canada: Mapping Since the Second World War

The Second World War can be considered a turning point in Canadian topographic mapping. Before the war, topographers used plane tables and sketched out small sections of the terrain that were subsequently joined together into a map. This method was slow, not very accurate and unusable in forested areas. Aerial photographs were used, but in the whole country only one instrument plotted map detail directly from air photos. Advances in mapping following the Second World War include photogrammetry, the Air Profile Recorder, the Doppler Positioning System, and the Global Positioning System. (See also History of Cartography in Canada; Cartography in Canada: 1763-Second World War.)


Cartography in Canada: 1763-Second World War

After the fall of New France to the British in 1760, cartographers continued to create important maps of Canada. British General James Murray created a map of Quebec in the years before the Treaty of Paris (1763) was signed, and three important British surveyors, namely Samuel Holland, Joseph Desbarres and James Cook, continued thereafter. Settlement in the late 1700s and early 1800s meant maps of townships and the layout of farmland were important. Hydrographic surveys also began during the 1800s, with the charting of the Great Lakes beginning in 1815 and the charting of Georgian Bay in 1883. In 1904, the Department of Marine and Fisheries began officially charting Canadian coastal waters. The preliminary sheets in Canada’s first extensive map series, the Three-Mile Sectional Maps of the Canadian Prairies, appeared in 1892. The series was abandoned in 1956 in favour of the 1:250,000 series of the National Topographic System (established in 1927).


History of Cartography in Canada

Cartography is the art, science and technology of making maps, plans, charts and globes representing Earth or any celestial body at any scale. Cartographic documents have been used as vehicles of communication by different cultures for many millennia; the earliest map to survive, drawn about 2300 BCE on a clay tablet, was found in the Middle East. In Canada, Indigenous people drew maps on the ground and in the snow, and sometimes committed them to media such as animal skins or bark. The maps of the 16th century were rough and often conjectural; maps of the French period became more accurate in the better-known areas; and after 1800, with the widespread use of the sextant and advanced astronomical techniques for determining longitude (for example, using the marine chronometer), the major gaps in the map of Canada were filled. During the 20th century, mapping skills were greatly refined in Canada.

This article provides background on the history of cartography in Canada. For more detailed information please see Cartography in Canada: Indigenous Mapmaking; Cartography in Canada: 1500s; Cartography in Canada: 1600–1763; Cartography in Canada: 1763–Second World War; Cartography in Canada: Mapping Since the Second World War; National Topographic System; Cadastral Surveying.


Cartography in Canada: 1500s

Most maps created in the 1500s that relate to Canada are manuscript compilations, often undated and anonymous. They were prepared by European cartographers rather than by explorers. Since cartographers had to work with available material, these maps are at times a perplexing mixture of new information and old, copied from unspecified sources. Any review of the sequence in which Canada was first mapped is therefore somewhat conjectural. (See also History of Cartography in Canada.)


Cartography in Canada: 1600–1763

Mapping in Canada in the 1600s began with the work of Samuel de Champlain. He produced the first modern-looking map of Eastern Canada in 1613, and the most comprehensive of his maps in 1632. For much of the 1600s and early 1700s, the French were the primary cartographers of what would become Canada. Notable exceptions include the English’s mapping of the Arctic (see also Cartography in Canada: 1500s) and Henry Hudson and other’s work in mapping Hudson Bay. The Seven Years' War (1756–63) interrupted mapping activity in Canada.


Cartography in Canada: Indigenous Mapmaking

Mapmaking was a widespread and well-developed art among Indigenous peoples in what is now Canada. However, this fact has been largely ignored in the history of cartography. Most common were navigational maps, because the more nomadic hunting and gathering bands depended on effective navigation over great expanses of wilderness. Indigenous peoples also drew maps to facilitate trade and warfare over long distances. Groups, in particular the equestrian Plains Indigenous people, used military maps to venture into the unfamiliar regions. (See also History of Cartography in Canada.)

Interactive Map

Residential Schools in Canada Interactive Map

The map below indicates the location of many residential schools in Canada. Click on individual points to learn a school’s name, religious denomination, opening and closing dates, and any other names by which the school was known. This map does not reflect every residential school that operated in the country. It only includes schools listed in the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement and a similar agreement reached for survivors of schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. This means that schools that operated without the support of the federal government — as in schools run by a province, a religious order, or both — are not included on this map. Day schools, where many Indigenous students experienced treatment similar to that described at residential schools, are also not included.