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The National Atlas of Canada

November 17, 2008

The National Atlas of Canada

Having always had a fascination with maps, I immediately saw the potential for the National Atlas of Canada’s website in education. There can be found here more maps than one can actually study in a lifetime, due to the fact that the site has pre-made printable maps, in addition to user created maps on an almost infinite number of topics: history, economy, health, geology, environment, climate, transportation, population, and hydrology. In fact, only the curiosity of the questioner and the depth of information that one seeks limit the maps that can be created.

Therefore, if creative minds are the goal, encourage students to seek information about Canada that intrigues them.

Here is an example: Grade Sevens at my school often research Natural Disasters. Given a type of disaster, students could research the location and magnitude of a disaster such as Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes etc.

Here’s How:

Go to the Atlas and pick: Environment-Natural Hazards-Tsunami.

Zoom in to an area of the country of interest. Click on Population overlays. Add roads or other human data. Centre the print area. Print a colour PDF for study. The parameters of the map are completely user defined.

Here is an example of the map created. BC Tsunamis Map

Pop-up-windows allow the user to examine individual events, perhaps leading to further research questions.


Earthquake Event



Cascadia, 1700






Latitude 48.5° 15’ 20″ N / Longitude 125° 00′ 00″ W



January 27, 1700



Recorded widely in oral native accounts and by geological evidence for subsidence and a tsunami along the outer coast; confirmed by a tsunami record in Japan. Extent of damage unknown.


Number of Deaths:

Unknown, native villages destroyed according to oral traditions



Yes (in Japan from tsunami)


Related Tsunami:










This data set may trigger further research, analysis and understanding. Students might compare events of different time periods, or at different locations. Or they could compare the relationship between two different disasters e.g. earthquakes and tsunamis. Perhaps their curiosity would lead to other types of creative pursuits, such as a podcast of a radio broadcast of an historical disaster or their own video on how to prepare for such a disaster in the future, or a brochure on the topic.

No matter what the end product, a student will have a richer understanding by using the creativity of the map making feature at the National Atlas of Canada.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Wendy Lambert permalink
    November 20, 2008 1:13 pm

    Hi Rod,

    This sounds like a fabulous resource with endless possibilities for creative student projects!

    On a related note, I saw a piece on the news (last night or the night before – it’s been a blur this week!) which told about scientists in CA who are developing methods to predict earthquakes. They are sending instruments that detect the slightest motion down deep in the earth (in well-type shafts) and from these, they think they will be able to provide warnings … This would have such potential to save lives!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts again this week! You come up with some really interesting ideas and resources!

    Dr. L 🙂

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