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Maps at VPL

The VPL map collection includes maps and atlases of every description: from street maps of present-day Vancouver to historical atlases of ancient Rome, from bathymetric maps of the ocean floor to geological maps of Jupiter's moons.




The atlas collection on Level 6 of the Central Library includes a wide variety of atlases. There are world atlases and atlases for most countries of the world that cover periods of time from the 1800s to present day. There are historical atlases of specific regions and historical topics such as the crusades, exploration and discovery and military campaigns. There are also topical atlases of archaeological sites, shipwrecks and specific peoples.

Other Library divisions also have atlases relating to their own subject areas. For example, atlases of plant distribution will be found in the Science collection, whereas atlases of commercial activities will be found in the Business collection. To determine the location of an item, check the View Availability Details section of the library catalogue in the Find it at VPL panel on the left side of the item record screen.

Access: Search the library catalogue, using the Keyword search. In the search box, enter the term atlases and the related nationality in which you are interested, eg.

Or enter the term atlas and the related country of interest, eg.

Location: Atlases for Level 6 are on the shelves behind the map filing cabinets, adjacent to the Map Area (call numbers 911 to 912) or on one of 10 atlas stands.

Some of our special atlases are listed below:

National Atlas of Canada, 5th ed (1985)
Ref. 912.71 C21a4
This major Canadian work has a large collection of maps that illustrate the location and distribution of almost any conceivable subject from climate features or mining to language groups.

Location: Atlas Stand 8

A Sto:Lo-Coast Salish Historical Atlas (2001)
970.3 C65S875c
This award-winning publication uses maps, diagrams and photographs to illustrate 15,000 years of natural, cultural and spiritual history of the Coast Salish people, from the last great glaciation to the 21st century.

Location: Level 4 Oversize


This series of atlases, reprints of atlases published in the mid to late 1800s, provides a wealth of information for those interested in tracing their ancestors. The maps are of townships and villages, showing lots with the name of the owner or the lot number, orchards, churches, school houses, post offices, farm houses, factories, mills and railway lines, street names, creeks, rivers and ponds. Coverage includes Ontario counties and selected Quebec and Maritime counties.

Location: Atlas Stands 1 - 4


In Search of Your Canadian Past: The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project
Online database

The Central Canadians, 1600-1900: An Alphabetized Directory of the People, Places, and Vital Dates
Print: Ref. 929.37127 C39e

For more information on historical atlases, see our Genealogy and Family History @ VPL web page on Historical Atlases.


Gazetteers offer lists of places and/or named geographical features, arranged in alphabetical order, with reference to their locations. Location references may be by longitude and latitude co-ordinates, by description, or directly linked to a specific map or atlas. Some gazetteers also offer brief descriptions or notes.

Access: To find published gazetteers in the library collection, search the library catalogue using Keyword. In the search box, type gazetteers and a place or country name, for example:

Location: Gazetteers are mostly on the shelves behind the filing cabinets, adjacent to the Map Area on Level 6 (call number area 910.3)

Useful gazetteers include:

Gazetteer of Canada (series)
There is a gazetteer for each province and territory which provides co-ordinates and a direct link to the series of Canadian topographic maps.

Gazetteer of Canada. British Columbia, 3rd ed. (1985)
Ref. 910.3 C2121g2
The B.C. section of the Gazetteer of Canada.

The Ordnance Survey Gazetteer of Great Britain: All Names From the 1:50,000 Landranger Map Series (1987)
Ref. 910.3 G78o
Provides co-ordinates and a direct link to the Ordnance Survey Landranger 1:50,000 scale maps.

Index-Gazetteer of the World (1965)
Ref. 910.3 T58i
Comprehensive world gazetteer providing longitude and latitude co-ordinates, published by the London Times.


Many excellent online gazetteers are now available over the Internet, but if you are not sure about the exact spelling of a place name, remember that the benefit of print gazetteers is that you can browse an alphabetical list looking for correct spellings. Electronic gazetteers generally require precise and accurate spellings.

B.C. Geographical Names
Search for B.C. place names by entering either a place name or geographic co-ordinates. The results give the geographic co-ordinates, the corresponding topographic sheets and notes on the name's origin.

Geographical Names of Canada 
Search for Canadian place names by entering either a place name or geographic co-ordinates. The results give the geographic co-ordinates, the corresponding topographic sheets and notes on the name's origin. This search tool also calculates the distance between any two points in Canada.

U.S. Board on Geographic Names
Offers a variety of search tools for identifying place names, topographic map sheets and other geographic information for domestic (U.S.), foreign and Antarctic names.

NGA GEOnet Names Server (GNS) 
Search for place names and geographic information for areas outside the United States and Antarctica.

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online
Search for place names in all continents and nations of the modern political world, as well as historical places. Although the emphasis of this database is on places that are important for art and architecture, it can be very useful when looking for historical places.