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Canadian: Geography and Maps
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NOTE: This course requires compulsory materials to be ordered. Please click on the Supplies tab for details.

Genealogy, geography and maps are inextricably entwined, particularly in a country like Canada where almost everyone has ancestors who came here from somewhere else. If you are looking for their records you must travel across geographic boundaries as well as across time. Wherever you travel, maps are essential.

Can you read a map? Did you hate geography in school? You know what road maps tell you, but are you aware that topographical maps tell you much more or that geographers and cartographers now use maps to show us all sorts of information both about the here and now and the worlds our ancestors once inhabited.

While many Canadians look back to Europe or the British Isles, in the multi-cultural society we have become some of us will need maps of every continent except Antarctica. Not just maps of the place as it is today, but older maps that show former political divisions and place names, where old roads, canals or railways once ran, perhaps ownership of land, or city plans that show every building, including the one where the emigrant ancestor was born.

If you plan to be a successful family historian you must learn to look at maps and extract the basic, secondary, and even the third level of information they offer, and then evaluate that information. Is what it shows accurate, up to date or obsolete, misleading or intended to deceive? Maps can be many things and the more you know the fewer traps will catch you.

The National Institute for Genealogical Studies is extremely pleased to be able to use, as the primary text for this course, an outstanding book on this subject, authored by Althea Douglas, Genealogy, Geography, and Maps: Using Atlases and Gazetteers to Find Your Family (Ontario Genealogical Society: Toronto, 2006).

Because the course reading material is not proprietary to the National Institute''s course, access to the electronic text of mandatory course reading material will NOT be available online. The course syllabus will primarily serve as a guide to the content of Douglas'' book. In addition it will present some brief supplemental material, as well as the assignments.

Course Content

Module 1
• The Language of Maps
• The Making of Maps
Map Related Websites

Module 2
Toponymy & Place Names
• The Accuracy of Maps
• Toponymy

Module 3
Migration Routes
• How They Saw the World
• Maps and Migration

Module 4
General,Topographic & Military Maps
• General Maps
• Topographic Maps
Military Maps

Module 5
County & Settlement Maps
• What Do You Mean By "Canada"?
• County Maps and Atlases
• Maps and Land

Module 6
Other Maps & Gazetteers
• City and Town Plans
• Gazetteers, Guide Books and Directories

Module 7
Historical Atlas of Canada
• Thematic Maps

Module 8
Where to Find Maps
• Manuscript and Other Maps
• Where Do I Find Maps?

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