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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.


Hydrographic charts (also known as marine charts or nautical charts) map the surface waters of the Earth, thereby providing a valuable tool for marine navigation. They show the depth of water, position of coastlines, channels, reefs, and shoals and provide information on tides, currents and winds.

VPL maintains a collection of current hydrographic charts of B.C., most of the Arctic and some parts of Alberta and Ontario.

VPL does not keep current copies of U.S. marine charts.

Unlike most maps, individual Canadian charts do not include legends. To understand the symbols and abbreviations used on the charts, you must consult Chart 1 - Symbols, Abbreviations & Terms. You will find this in Filing Cabinet Drawer 10.1 under Canada - Hydrographic Charts, Chart 1. There is also a copy in the atlas area: Ref. 912.0148 S98c. Information is also available on a Reference CD-ROM, which can be found and used at the Level 4 Standalone Cdrom (data) station. Or look at the website: Tips on Reading your Nautical Chart.

Hydrographic Charts of Canada

Scale varies by chart.

Access: The index sheet for B.C. charts is in Horizontal Filing Cabinet Drawer H21. For other parts of Canada, indexes are in Filing Cabinet Drawer 10.1 in an envelope labelled:

  • Canada - Hydrographic Charts


  • B.C. charts are in Horizontal Filing Cabinet Drawers H1 - H7
  • Other Canadian charts are in Horizontal Filing Cabinet Drawers H8 - H13