A “world-startling discovery” - Stories in the Canada Lands Survey Records


  • Roddy McFall, Mr. Library and Archives Canada




In 2017, a small collection of survey plans in the custody of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) grew exponentially when Natural Resources Canada’s Office of the Surveyor General transferred over 90,000 original survey maps and field books from the Canada Lands Survey Records (CLSR). Dating as early as 1769, these underused archival records document the survey, settlement, and sustainable use of Crown Lands. Among many other things, the CLSR collection documents Canada’s Indigenous history and culture such as the distribution of language groups, treaty rights, the location of Residential Schools and Indian reserves, and Indigenous land use and occupation. Through these, we can see the history of Indian reserves, National Parks, military bases, railway development, the fur trade, and the Arctic. As we will see, the records also help tell the story of the significant Indigenous contribution to the Klondike Gold Rush.

Author Biography

Roddy McFall, Mr., Library and Archives Canada

Roddy McFall is a Senior Archivist at Library and Archives with responsibility for – among other portfolio assignments – the cartographic records of Natural Resources Canada. He spent five years writing on Canadian politics for The Economist Intelligence Unit, and spent three years at the Bermuda Government Archives assisting in the creation of its nascent government records programme. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in History and Political Science as well as a Master of Arts in History, both from Carleton University.




How to Cite

McFall, R. (2018). A “world-startling discovery” - Stories in the Canada Lands Survey Records. Bulletin - Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (ACMLA), (159), 1–7. https://doi.org/10.15353/acmla.n159.233