Boundary Changes, 1670-2001


Area units:
Areas shown represent political divisions including countries, provinces, colonies, territories, and territorial districts.

Data units:
For each year following 1670, there is at least one boundary highlighted in yellow, and these represent boundaries which have undergone a change since the preceeding year.


Legend Description

Established boundaries are shown with varying patterns of dashed grey lines, and disputed or undefined boundaries are shown with thick transparent white lines. Disputed boundaries are those where two nations, colonies, provinces or territories disputed the boundary's precise location. Undefined boundaries are those where the precise location had not yet been established. Colonial, and later state boundaries are not shown for the United States.

Territorial control (1670-1866)
The colours on the maps between 1670 and 1866 represent the nations controlling (or claiming) territory in North America. The Hudson's Bay Company is listed because though they were not a nation, Great Britain granted them virtually all of the rights a nation within Rupert's Land and later the Northwestern Terriory, including sole trading rights, the authority to establish and enact laws, as well as the authority enter into agreements with native peoples.

Territorial control (1867-2001)
Between 1867 and 2001 only Britain and the Hudson's Bay Company conform to the legend above. Nations other than Great Britain and Canada are shown in grey. Canadian provinces are schematically coloured, as they are added over time.



1670-1820; 1821-1866; 1867-1898; 1901-1999
The four folders with the date ranges above contain a series of layers - each one representing a snapshot of what the political boundaries of northern North America looked like at that time. To view any one of the layers simply click in the checkbox beside the layer's name. For each layer other than 1670, some of the boundaries are highlighted by a thick yellow line. These highlighted boundaries represent a change in the nature or location of that boundary since the previous year listed. Clicking the checkbox will also make that layer active, see Active Tools below to learn how to get information from a layer when it is active.

Modern refernece geography
This series of layers is available to give a modern context to the historical boundary layers.
The More rivers layer contains a greater selection of rivers than is already on the map. The Major river and lake name layers contain the labels for many of the major rivers and lakes. These name layers are not available at all scales, so if you want to see the river names, you will have to zoom in until the symbol shown here (the magnifying glass with the red X through it) turns into a regular checkbox.


Active Tools

Zoom in: All layers are visible at all scales, with the exception of the Major river and Major lake name layers, which are only visible at large scales. In order to view these layers, click on the zoom in button, then click or drag a rectangle on the map to zoom in to a scale where they become visible.
Clicking in the checkbox beside any layer will turn that layer's visibility on, it will also make that layer active (represented by the black symbol). Once a layer is active, you can use the tools below to get information about that layer.

Identify: Click on this button, then click on one of the boundaries highlighted in yellow to pop-up a description of the change which that particular boundary had undergone since the previous year listed.

Table: Click on this button, then click on one of the boundaries highlighted in yellow or drag a box over several of the boundaries to select the boundary changes you want more information about. A table will pop-up with information about the boundaries selected. See Table Fields below.


Table Fields - Boundary Changes 1670-2001

Event Short description of event and change. After 1867 these changes were primarily enacted by Acts of the Canadian federal parliament.
Year Date of event.
Description Full description of event and change, often including the legeslation which enacted the change.
Data files available: Boundary_Changes_1670_2001.xls