The National Topographic System (NTS) is used by Natural Resources Canada for topographic maps of Canada. Our collection includes 1/50,000; 1/250,000; and 1/500,000 scale maps
NTS numbers are how you locate a sheet of interest in our topographic map collection. These numbers follow a specific format. UNBC, for example, would be found on the 093G15 map sheet. What do these numbers mean?
You can find a map number by referring to an index map (located in the first drawer of our NTS section), but you can also use the online Toporama Tool. Make sure to select Grids (NTS, Lat/Long, UTM) to turn on the NTS grid layer, and then you can search by address, place name, or coordiate to find the correct map sheet number. The Canadian Geographical Names Data Base can also be used, and is best if you are searching for a specific geographic feature (for example, a named lake or mountain). Our NTS collection is shelved in map sheet order and keeps all editions of the same map sheet together, making it easy to compare changes over time for your area of interest.
While our map collection is non-circulating, you are able to download and print current topographic maps from the federal or provincial government for field or recreational use:
Use NRCan’s HTML geospatial product index. Under Themes select the type of map you need and in the scale you need. Zoom to your area of interest and click on the desired map (areas outlined in yellow). You can then preview the map, and download it as either a PDF or TIFF.
Find BC 1:20,000 topographic maps using the Topographic Map Viewer.