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Canadian Geographical Names
Natural Resources Canada

About Geographical Names on the Internet

Through the Internet, you may access nearly 320 000 currently approved geographical names stored on the Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB), Canada's national bank of official geographical names. These names are authorized by the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC), through its provincial, territorial and federal representatives.

In addition, you may query:

  • 31 000 formerly approved names of historical interest
  • 3 500 names of undersea features

FIELDS

From the CGNDB, we have selected up to eight fields of information for each name, for you to view here:

  1. Name of Feature
    • Current: For most geographical names there is only one official form. However, certain geographical names require presentation in both official languages of Canada on federal maps. The following lists provide you with a quick reference for some categories of such names:
    • Historical: Some names have in the past been given official status, but are no longer the approved forms. These may have been replaced by other ("Current") names or may simply have been withdrawn from use.
    • Undersea: 3 500 official names of undersea features relevant to Canada are collected here. The type of feature, latitude and longitude and chart or map are provided here for each entry.
  2. Province or Territory
  3. Feature Type - geographical names listed here are grouped into categories. If Feature Type is selected as the Sort Order during a geographical names query, records will be sequenced as follows:
    1. Province
    2. Territory
    3. City
    4. Town
    5. Village
    6. Hamlet
    7. Other municipal/district area - major agglomeration
    8. Other municipal/district area - miscellaneous
    9. Unincorporated area
    10. Indian Reserve
    11. Geographical area
    12. Conservation area
    13. Military area
    14. River
    15. River feature
    16. Falls
    17. Lake
    18. Spring
    19. Sea
    20. Sea feature
    21. Undersea feature
    22. Channel
    23. Rapids
    24. Bay
    25. Cape
    26. Beach
    27. Shoal
    28. Island
    29. Cliff
    30. Mountain
    31. Valley
    32. Plain
    33. Cave
    34. Crater
    35. Glacier
    36. Forest
    37. Low vegetation
    38. Miscellaneous
  4. Location - geographic unit (or administrative unit for Quebec records) in which the feature or place lies. Each province or territory has its own distinct units.
  5. Latitude/Longitude - coordinates are provided in degrees, minutes and seconds at the centre of a feature, except for flowing-water features where coordinates are at the mouth. Note that for most features the values provided for seconds read as 00, as this level of precision has yet to be added.
  6. NTS Map/Chart - in most cases, this is a National Topographic System (NTS) map, at the 1:50 000 scale. Where this is not applicable, a 1:250 000 NTS map or a Canadian Hydrographic Service Chart (e.g., C.4803) is shown.
  7. CGNDB Unique Identifier - a five digit alpha-code assigned to each record in the CGNDB. Please quote if you are requesting any follow-up information.
  8. Abbreviations and symbols for the names of the provinces and territories

CHARACTER SETS

Geographical names data provided here uses the 8-bit ASCII character set ISO 8859, which includes all accents used in French-language geographical names. (Please note that proper display of these accented characters may depend on the hardware that you are using.)

Some Canadian Native language geographical names include diacritics which have not yet been incorporated into international data standards. Until that time, we are representing these "hard-to-construct" characters by numbers surrounded by brace brackets.

Examples:

  • {1}utselk'e where {1} represents a barred L (i.e. an L with a forward slash (/) superimposed). To search for this name, enter an 'L' in place of the {1}.
  • Dél{10}ne where {10} represents an i with a reversed cedilla immediately below the letter. To search for this name, enter an 'i' in place of the {10}.

Where to obtain more information

Please contact CGNDB Technical Services for further information about the GeoNames Web Site.

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2002-12-20Important notices