Locate Places in Manitoba Using Gazetteers, Maps, Plans and Atlases (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Manitoba Ancestors by Laura Hanowski. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Manitoba gazetteers, maps, plans and atlases enable you to find the settlements where your ancestors lived. Many of these historic places no longer exist, but the records created there may still exist in archives and museums.
A gazetteer is a place name dictionary. It lists the names of localities and physical features along with a description of where they are located. Genealogists use them to find trading posts, reserves, post offices, hamlets and villages. Sometimes they include name changes.
The Gazetteer of Manitoba lists localities and physical features by name, including section, township and range, the latitude and longitude and whether the feature is a settlement, hamlet, village, town or city, rural municipality, river or lake.
Alternate Sources Found on the Internet
- National Resources Canada database
- Post Office database
- Atlas of Canada - English
- L'Atlas du Canada - Français
- Gazetteer of Canada: Manitoba; Repertoire geographique du Canada: Manitoba/Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographic Names. Ottawa: Published for Canada Permanent Committee on Geographical Names by Surveys and Mapping Branch, Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, 1999.
- Geographical Names of Manitoba. Winnipeg: Manitoba Conservation, 2001.
- Robinson, William G., editor. Manitoba Post Offices. Vancouver, British Columbia: William Topping, 1985.
- Ham, Penny. Place Names of Manitoba. Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1980.
- Holm, Gerry. “Manitoba Place Names.” Generations. The Journal of the Manitoba Genealogical Society 09 (September 1984).
The borders of what we know as Manitoba have changed drastically over the last few hundred years. In 1670 the whole area in northern Canada whose rivers emptied into Hudson Bay was known as Rupert’s Land. When Canada purchased this land from the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1870 the land was designated the North-West Territories and the area surrounding the Red River settlement became the “postage stamp” province of Manitoba.
The boundaries for Manitoba being: the 49th parallel on the south, the 96O longitude on the east, the 99O longitude on the west and 50O30' north latitude. In 1881 the boundary was expanded west to the present Manitoba/Saskatchewan border, east to the present Manitoba/Ontario border and north to 52O50' north latitude. The current Manitoba boundary in the north was set in 1912.
Map: Manitoba’s changing boundaries
Hudson’s Bay Company Archives Cartographic Records
The maps in this vast collection cover the vast trading area of the Company from 1563 to ca 1982. These maps are found in the Hudson’s Bay Archives in Winnipeg. Maps that show the location of trading posts are found online at the Hudson's Bay Company Archives website.
- Beattie, Judith Hudson. Indian Maps in the Hudson’s Bay Archives: A Comparison of Five Area Maps Recorded by Peter Fiddler, 1801-1802. Archevaria 21 (Winter 1985-86).
- Ruggles, Richard I. A Country So Interesting:The Hudson’s Bay Company and Two Centuries of Mapping, 1670-1870. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s Press, 1991.
Historical Maps of Manitoba
Parish, township, topographical, railway and highway maps can show administrative boundaries and settlements. The use of historical and topographical maps helps one to understand settlement patterns. Copies of the historical maps are found at the Archives of Manitoba and the Library and Archives Canada. Samples of these maps, as well as lists of others, can be seen on the Internet. Note any restrictions about access and use.
- Parish Plans
Parish plans provide the name of the owner and the parish lot number for the river lots in the Red River Settlement. Use these in conjunction with the Parish Files. These maps have not been microfilmed. Copies of the maps are found at the Archives of Manitoba.
- Township and Cadastral Plans
Township plans generally show the thirty-six sections in a township noting the topographical details in the township. They are particularly interesting to the genealogist because they show the roads, trails, and soil quality. The 3,106 Cadastral Plans for Manitoba , c1890-1930, list the names of the first land owners. The Archives of Manitoba has a card index for the maps arranged by township and range as well as the copies of the maps.
- Section Maps of Western Canada
These three miles to one-inch scale and six mile to one-inch scale maps were produced by the Department of the Interior to depict land descriptions, trails, roads, railways, schools and churches across Western Canada. Many of the towns and villages shown on these maps no longer exist. The Archives of Manitoba have indexes for the Manitoba maps in their collection.
- Cummins Rural Directory Maps
The Cummins Map Company produced maps for Manitoba in 1918 and 1923. These maps show the name of the rural property owners, the location of the hamlets, villages, towns and railroads. The number under the name indicates which post office the owner used. The maps enable one to see if the original owner still owned the land or if they had added to their holding. Copies of the maps are found at the Archives of Manitoba. Microfiche copies are found at the Library and Archives Canada.
- Fire Insurance Plans
These plans were produced or commissioned by fire underwriting firms to help them understand the physical characteristics of the structures in villages and towns before they issued insurance. These maps enable the researcher to learn about the construction and size of buildings, where on the lot they are located, the size of the lot and the names of businesses in the community. The book, Fire Insurance Plans in the National Map Collection, lists one hundred and seven plans for forty-eight Manitoba communities. The Archives of Manitoba have copies of Fire Insurance Plans from ca. 1880-1970.
- Hayward, Robert J. Fire Insurance Plans in the National Map Collection. Ottawa: Public Archives of Canada, 1977.
- Historical Atlas of Canada, Volume III, editor Donald Kerr. Designer/cartographer Geoffrey J. Matthews. Toronto, Buffalo, London, England: University of Toronto Press, 1987.
- Ross, Tim. “Manitoba Maps to Aid the Family Historian.” Generations: The Journal of the Manitoba Genealogical Society 12 (September 1987).
- Spry, Irene M. and Bennett McCardle. The Records of the Department of the Interior and Research Concerning Canada’s Western Frontier of Settlement. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 1993.
Researchers also need to have copies of current maps which can be obtained from:
- Manitoba Department of Natural Resources
Land Information Division
1007 Century Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3H 0W4
Telephone: (204) 945-6666
- Travel Manitoba
1555 Carlton Street
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3C 3H8
Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Manitoba Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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