Maps, Atlases & Air Photos

The Maps, Data & Government Information Centre (MaDGIC) manages a physical collection of cartographic resources that includes more than 80,000 sheet maps, 22,000 air photos and an extensive collection of atlases, gazetteers, manuals and guides. The collection is focused mostly on Canadian sources, but other countries are well represented. 

Maps and atlases are searchable from the Library's web catalogue, Omni. Air photos are searchable using our online index. Items in these collections may also be available in digital format.

Our team of specialists is here to help you find what you need. Contact MaDGIC for assistance with maps, atlases or air photo collections.

A topographic map displays a detailed representation of physical features in an area. These maps are essential tools in fields like geography, environmental studies, anthropology, and more. They provide information for analysis, planning, and decision-making by showing us the locations of water features, transportation networks, buildings, and other objects, as well as showing characteristics of the landscape, such as elevation. Physical indexes to topographic maps are found within our collection on the fourth floor of Bata Library. 

Examples of topographic maps in the collection: 

  • National Topographic System (NTS) 
  • Ontario Base Maps (OBM) 
  • Municipal topographic maps 
  • United States topographic maps 
  • Planetary topographic maps 

Online Map Sources

  • <odesi> A Canadian social science data repository containing over 3,535 datasets for the social sciences, with more than 13,000 additional dataset descriptions available for searching. One of the collections available in Odesi is the historical Canadian National Topographic System (NTS) maps, data & GIS.  
  • Canadiana A website that provides access to a wide range of Canadian digital resources, including books, journals, and government documents. The website offers digitized historical NTS maps of Canada at a scale of 1:50 000 and geographical information that can support mapping-related studies and projects. Additionally, the website includes land cover data and maps, such as the 2020 Land Cover of Canada, which is essential for various environmental applications related to mapping and emergency response. 
  • Historical Topographic Map Digitization Project An initiative to digitize and georeference early-to-mid 20th century historical topographic maps covering the province of Ontario at  scales of 1:25,000 and 1:63,360. The project was initiated by the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Geo Community. Users can access and visualize historical topographic maps of Ontario, overlay them onto current base maps, and explore changes over time. 
  • Digital Topographic Raster Maps, 1944-2012 These maps offer a representation of the topographic features of the Canadian landmass and are available in formats such as PDF, GeoPDF, TIFF, and GeoTIFF. The CanMatrix collection consists of print-ready raster maps at scales from 1:25,000 to 1:1,000,000, while the CanTopo collection comprises digital raster maps primarily covering northern Canada at a scale of 1:50,000. The maps are georeferenced and can be used in a Geographic Information System (GIS). It's important to note that this is a legacy product that is no longer maintained and may not meet current government standards. These maps provide valuable historical information about the Canadian landmass, allowing users to analyze and compare changes in the topography over time. 

Thematic maps focus on specific subjects or themes related to a geographical area. Unlike physical or topographic maps, which show natural features and terrain, thematic maps highlight specific information such as climate patterns, population density, economic activities, and geological features. These maps provide a visual representation of statistical data, helping in analysis and decision-making processes.  

Examples of thematic maps in the collection: 

  • Canadian National Atlas  
  • Canadian Geological Survey 
  • Canadian Land Inventory  
  • Ontario Geological Survey 

Online Map Sources


  • Open Maps Find maps and location-related datasets published by government institutions on topics like nature, science, economics, industry, transport, health & safety, and more. All information is open access and can downloaded easily in a variety of formats. [link: filter by Collection Type>Open Maps] 
  • Census Thematic Maps Find thematic maps based on census data that show the spatial distribution of data for certain regions. These maps can be qualitative, showing information like predominant first language, or quantitative, using data like percentage population change. Gain insights into demographic, social, and economic trends across different regions.  
  • Indigenous Communities of the North Maps and geospatial datasets related to Indigenous communities or the North—maps are available as interactive web-based maps or static maps that can be downloaded and printed. The site provides valuable resources for researchers interested in Indigenous peoples, lands, health, social services, community development, and more. Additionally, the site offers learning resources about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis across Canada, including lesson plans, reports on residential schools, guidance on reconciliation conversations, educational packages, and tools like the Canadian Reconciliation Barometer and Reconciliation Canada Toolkits. 
  • Natural Resource Canada Maps A variety of maps and geographic data covering topics from the Atlas of Canada to detailed energy and forest maps, and including geoscientific and topographical data. Useful for a variety of research purposes across disciplines like geography, environmental science, and geology, and more generally useful for enhancing the understanding of Canada's geographical and natural resource landscape. 
  • Maps of Treaty-Making in Canada A series of maps detailing the history of treaty-making in Canada before 1975, covering the negotiation periods between 1725 and 1923. The maps illustrate the geographic scope and historical context of treaties across various regions including Ontario, the Prairie Provinces, parts of Vancouver Island, the Northwest Territories, and Atlantic Canada, highlighting significant agreements that shaped the land and rights negotiations between First Nations peoples and the Canadian government. 
  • AgroClimate Interactive Maps Interactive maps showcasing agroclimate datasets for Canada, covering variables such as precipitation, temperature, growing degree days, and more—essential for assessing weather and climate impacts on agriculture. Additionally, this site provides links to PDF maps of current and historical agroclimate conditions, details about the map production process, and data on various climate and moisture indices, drought indicators, and soil moisture, aiming to support decision-making in agriculture. 
  • CanSIS Printed Maps The Canadian Soil Information Service offers a comprehensive collection of printed and digitized maps detailing Canadian soils, landscapes, and climate. It includes maps from the Canada Land Inventory (CLI), which were published by Canada's Agricultural Rehabilitation and Development Act (ARDA) program between 1961 and 1978, covering soil capability for agriculture, land capability for various uses including forestry, wildlife, and recreation, and watershed capability for sport fish at different scales. Additionally, the page provides access to soil degradation risk maps and areas vulnerable to groundwater contamination, reflecting Agriculture Canada's research on environmental risks and soil health from 1978 to 1993. 


  • Ontario Geological Survey Access geologic mapping data covering over a century of work by the Mines and Minerals Division, the Ontario Geological Survey, and their predecessors. This site offers searchable PDF index maps from 1891 to 2020, alongside a variety of map series including magnetic, geophysical, and geochemical surveys. Additionally, vector, CAD, or GIS files for maps published since 1998 are available, allowing a detailed exploration of Ontario's geology. 

Atlases are available for viewing on the 4th floor of the Bata Library and are discoverable using the library’s catalogue tool, Omni.
A well-used collection is the historical Canadian County Atlases which were published into single or adjacent county atlases covering time periods from 1874 until 1881. These atlases contain a rich portrayal of historical context about Canadian counties such as narrative, township and town maps with names of residents marked directly on the lots, portraits of citizens and business directories. 

To learn more about this rare collection, contact MaDGIC or explore these atlases using an online database created through McGill University's Canadian County Atlas Digitization Project.

Need help finding or using atlases? Contact for personalized support.

Trent Library's collection contains more than 22,000 historical air photos in physical and digital formats. Photos span time periods from 1929 to 1995 and are sourced from the National Air Photo Library, the provincial government, and private firms. Coverage is largely focused on Ontario although there is some geographic coverage across all provinces and territories.

Our online index enables you to explore coverage for your geographic area of interest and identify the air photos you need to support your work. Visit the index to browse the collection and learn how to order air photos.

You can either send a request to to acquire digital georeferenced copies of air photos or access the hard copy collection in person during library hours. Hard copies are located on the 4th floor of Bata Library adjacent to the atlas collection. 

Please note that digital copies of air photos captured less than 50 years ago are under copyright and available only for educational use by registered members of Trent University.

Contact us at for support.

Online Air Photo Sources 

  • The National Air Photo Library (NAPL) contains more than six million air photos of Canda spanning over 70 years. Most photos are monochrome (black and white) and are 25 cm by 25 cm in size. Each photo includes a flight report with important information such as the flight path, capture date, and altitude. To view and order photos from the NAPL collection, use the EODMS (Earth Observation Data Management System).   
  • The Archives of Ontario provides access to more than 960,000 black and white aerial photos acquired by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Forest Resource Inventory program between 1946-1999. 

Trent University Archives, also in the Bata Library, has many archival maps and atlases in their collections.