Canada Topographic Maps

Define Topographic Map - Help

What Do Topographic Maps Show

Define Topographic Map

What is a Topographic Map?

Answer: A topographic map is a detailed and accurate graphic representation of cultural and natural features on the ground.

What information can I find on a topographic map?

Answer: A topographic map identifies numerous cultural and natural ground features which can be grouped into the following categories:

  • CULTURE: roads, buildings, urban development, boundaries, railways, power transmission lines
  • WATER: lakes, rivers, streams, swamps, rapids
  • RELIEF: mountains, valleys, slopes, depressions
  • VEGETATION: wooded and cleared areas, vineyards and orchards
  • TOPONYMY: place names, water feature names, highway names

Refer to this topographic map legend for a complete listing of all features and their corresponding symbols. Information along the map borders of NTS paper maps provides valuable details to help you understand and use a topographic map. For example, here you will find the map scale and scale conversion, the legend, and the year the information on the map was last updated.

Is a topo map similar to a road map?

Answer: They both show roads, water features, cities and provincial parks, but that's where the similarity ends. Topographic maps also show relief, forest cover, marsh, pipelines, transmission lines, buildings, various types of boundary lines, and many more features. Topographic maps show both a geographic grid (latitude/longitude) and a UTM grid (kilometres), allowing the user to determine precise positions.

What are Topographic Maps Used for?

Topographic maps are used for outdoor orienteering, planning and doing canoe expeditions, and route finding while hiking or backpacking. Fishermen and boaters like to use topo maps for navigational reference. In general, you could say that topo maps are used for identifying the landscape's topography.

This page contains data © Department of Natural Resources Canada. All rights reserved.
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