“Where” Data Matters

NRCan is responsible for providing essential geographic information, which includes elevation data, and other geospatial information on Canada’s landmass, to Canadians. Taking this a few steps further, NRCan has launched several mapping projects, supported by the Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation, that offer different lenses to the way that Canadians can view and access this data.

National Air Photo Library

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Figure 1: An aerial photograph of the Dow’s Lake area, taken in 1952 – the year that the Tulip Festival began.

NRCan is making the historical National Air Photo Library (NAPL) available to Canadians to visually tell the story of Canada’s development over time. Originally used to map Canada, it currently houses over six million aerial photographs of Canada, taken between the 1920’s and 2000’s. The NAPL collection is of great historical value and represents a unique ‘picture’ of the country. The NAPL team is un-tapping this value so the collection can be used for new purposes like producing time-series videos to show how Canada’s landscape is changing over time, and tracking climate change and cumulative effects, among other things.

Canada’s Commemorative Map

For Remembrance Day this year, NRCan worked with its federal, provincial and territorial partners on the Geographical Names Board of Canada to create Canada’s Commemorative Map. The interactive map showcases how Canadians who have served our country have been memorialized through geographical names, eternally tying them to the lands, lakes, rivers and towns for which they made the ultimate sacrifice. Commemorative place names help us remember Canada’s war casualties - soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, military leaders, and civilians recognized for outstanding acts of bravery and sacrifice. The names also commemorate notable battles in which Canada participated, and Canadian military units, regiments, squadrons, and ships in which Canadians served. NRCan continues to receive names to be added to this project, and the map will remain an evergreen tribute to the bravery and dedication of Canadian war heroes.

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Figure 3: Terrain Model using LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology

Improving the quality of 3D mapping

It is thanks to the new technologies, the creativity of the team members and the collaboration that these results have been achieved.”
- David Belanger
Acting Project Manager

Through a collaboration with other federal departments and agencies, provinces, territories, private sector and international partners, NRCan’s Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation has been able to produce an unprecedented 3D topographic map of Canada. This 3D data is enhanced by new technologies such as artificial intelligence, and it allows us to see through vegetation, to extract information about rivers, buildings, roads, and even identify the best locations for solar panels across the country. This 3D data also been useful to other departments, such as Parks Canada, which used it to create a Vegetation Resource Inventory and Environment to better assess the impact of climate change on Great Lakes coastal wetlands. The new and improved 3D data will better serve Canadians and support key federal priorities such as climate change, the adoption of clean technology, emergency response, agriculture, infrastructure planning, forestry and mining. It also represents a major step forward in mapping the Canadian Arctic as never seen before.