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Canada Lands: About our survey system

Do you need to access boundary or survey information about Canada Lands? (These include lands in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut; more than 3,100 Indian reserves; Canada’s national and historic parks; and Canada’s offshore area as defined in Section 24 of the Canada Lands Surveys Act.)

Under the Canada Lands Survey System (CLSS), our Surveyor General Branch (SGB) defines, marks and describes the boundaries of Canada Lands. We do not manage provincial or municipal surveys or property rights.

Surveyor General Branch: What we do

Clear boundary systems can help you manage property rights, including transferring and mortgaging rights, subdividing land and land-use planning. Land boundary and property rights systems help answer who has a land right (a person, family, corporation, etc.), what type of rights they have (lease, licences, etc.), how much the right is worth (financially or culturally) and where the right exists (its boundary).

In Canada, two programs support our CLSS: Canada’s Survey Registry and Canada’s Survey Program. The Survey Registry contains survey plans, field notes, diaries, reports and other documents related to Canada Lands surveys. Most of these are accessible through the tools and data section (see below).
Canada Lands surveyors are licensed by the Association of Canada Lands Surveyors (ACLS). They carry out surveys under our Survey Program using guidelines from the National Standards for the Survey of Canada Lands to create a demarcation of the boundaries on the ground (i.e., the field survey) and a legal document depicting the location of the boundaries (i.e., the plan). The Surveyor General ensures the quality of surveys before entering them in the Canada Lands Survey Records.

The Surveyor General serves as the Canadian Commissioner of the International Boundary Commission and is a member of the tripartite Alberta-British Columbia Boundary Commission. We also work with other Canadian governmental departments to help them deliver on their land management responsibilities.

Below are some of the services we provide.

Access land survey tools and data

Our tools and datasets are available for use by land surveyors, land administrators and other stakeholders, including Indigenous land users. These tools and geographic information system (GIS) / computer-aided design (CAD) datasets can help you find legal survey plans and related documents, information about surveys in progress and standards on how to conduct surveys. You’ll also see geospatial representations of parcels of Canada Lands (administrative boundary visuals, connections to Google Earth) as well as cadastral datasets, oil and gas grids, and more. Visit our tools and data page to learn more about our offerings and find the one that’s right for you.

Take me to tools and data

Indigenous land claims

The SGB ensures that Canada meets its obligation to define the extent of land negotiated within comprehensive land claims, when modern treaties are negotiated between an Indigenous group, Canada and the relevant province or territory.

More than 99% of the surveying required for these claims is carried out by private land surveying companies in the largest legal survey undertakings in Canada since the settling of the West. The SGB provides a regulatory framework for their work.

First Nations land management

Under the Framework Agreement on First Nation Land Management (FAFNLM), First Nations are responsible for managing and controlling their reserve lands and resources. At the SGB, we prepare legal descriptions of lands that will be subject to the First Nations land code under the FAFNLM to support Indigenous engagement in land management.

We initially prepare a research report that identifies issues that need to be resolved by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada or the Indigenous nation or communities. This resolution must be completed before we prepare a final land description, in which we define the extent of a reserve’s lands.

We carefully investigate historical documents about the creation, addition and removal of land from reserves to fully and clearly understand their boundaries and whether lands were purchased, unceded or surrendered. Solutions must be found if a reserve plan differs from a written description or if the wording is vague or silent. This is challenging work, but it creates a clearer picture of the reserve’s boundary, which helps First Nations manage their lands under the FAFNLM. There are 94 First Nations that have ratified the Framework Agreement and enacted their own land codes to date.

You can download free maps of First Nations that operate or are in development under the FAFNLM.

Additions to reserves

An addition to reserves (ATR) happens when a parcel of land is added to a reserve or a new reserve is created. These lands normally fall under a provincial survey system, but transfer to our Canada Lands Survey System once they are added to the reserve. At the SGB, we conduct research and provide advice, survey management and legal land descriptions for such land transfers. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada has additional information about ATRs.

Treaty land entitlement

The treaty land entitlement (TLE) program settles land debts to First Nations and Metis who did not receive land they were entitled to under historic treaties. Settlement agreements are negotiated among the Indigenous group, the Government of Canada and provincial/territorial governments. Crown lands are identified and/or a cash settlement is provided so an Indigenous group may purchase federal, provincial/territorial, or private land to settle the land debt. Indian reserve lands are held by the Government of Canada (the Crown), on behalf of First Nations for the use and benefit of First Nations. Our survey program supports this transition from provincial to Canada Lands. Information on meeting TLE obligations is captured in the results section of the annual reviews. For additional information on TLE, see Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

National parks

The Surveyor General has a long-standing history of collaborating with Parks Canada to manage surveys of lands that may be designated as national parks, park reserves, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas.

At the SGB, we provide Parks Canada with advice on boundary issues, contract survey services and cadastral mapping projects with Canada Lands surveyors, monitor contracts and prepare legal descriptions of the lands. We also maintain survey records to support land transactions and conservation/protection activities in Canada’s national parks.

Interprovincial and interterritorial boundaries

We help provinces and territories mark and maintain their boundaries. We’re a member of the Alberta-British Columbia Boundary Commission, which resolves periodic boundary issues and establishes and maintains monuments. Our department provides interprovincial and interterritorial boundary geospatial data for use with GISs through the Administrative Boundaries in Canada — CanVec Series — Administrative Features dataset.

Federal electoral district boundaries

Representation in Canada’s House of Commons is readjusted after each 10-year census to reflect changes and movements in Canada’s population. Independent commissions adjust federal electoral boundaries, and 10 federal electoral boundaries commissions (one for each province) consider and report on any changes required to the boundaries of electoral districts. We provide each commission with technical advice and recommendations for unambiguously describing electoral district boundaries. Learn more about the readjustment process from Elections Canada.

Interested in having a survey done?

If you’re interested in having a survey done, review the Getting a Survey Done guide. This guide is for government departments and First Nations that administer Canada Lands, as well as Canada Lands surveyors and those requiring a survey. It clarifies the survey process and regulations in each area where Canada Lands operates.

Surveyor General Branch offices

Regional offices


Alberta Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
5320-122 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta T6H 3S5
Telephone: 780-224-3930


Atlantic Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
136 Victoria Street
East Amherst, Nova Scotia B4H 1Y1
Telephone: 902-661-6766
Fax: 902-661-6769

British Columbia

British Columbia Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
1501-1138 Melville Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6E 4S3
Telephone: 604-666-2999
Fax: 604-666-0522


Manitoba Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
250-365 Hargrave Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 2K3
Telephone: 431-373-1294
Fax: 204-983-0157

Northwest Territories

Northwest Territories Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
Greenstone Building, 2nd Floor
5101-50th Avenue, Room 230
PO Box 668
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories X1A 2N5
Telephone: 867-766-8530
Fax: 867-766-8533


Nunavut Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
#1 – 1093 Qamaniqtuaq Street
Iqaluit, Nunavut X0A 3H0
Telephone (toll free): 1-866-975-4633


Ontario Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
300-655 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K4
Telephone: 416-527-9155
Fax: 416-973-1004


Quebec Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
Jacques-Cartier Complex
320 St-Joseph Street East, Room 401
Quebec, Quebec G1K 8G5
Telephone: 418-648-7681
Fax: 418-648-5728


Saskatchewan Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
701 Alvin Hamilton Building
1783 Hamilton Street
Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 2B6
Telephone: 306-780-5402
Fax: 306-780-5191


Yukon Regional Office
Natural Resources Canada
225-300 Main Street
Whitehorse, Yukon Y1A 2B5
Telephone: 867-667-3950

Corporate offices

Surveyor General Branch

Surveyor General Branch — Head Office
Natural Resources Canada
588 Booth Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y7
Telephone: 343-292-6642

Canadian Geodetic Survey

Canadian Geodetic Survey
Natural Resources Canada
588 Booth Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y7

International Boundary Commission — Canada Section

International Boundary Commission — Canada Section
588 Booth Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0Y7
Telephone: 343-543-6619

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