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Historical Topographic Maps Digitization Project 

The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Historical Topographic Map Digitization Project was a province-wide collaboration to inventory, digitize, georeference, and provide broad access to early topographic maps of Ontario. The collection provides open access to georeferenced topographic maps at the 1:25,000 and 1:63,360 (one inch to one mile) scales, covering towns, cities, and rural areas in Ontario over the period of 1906 to 1977. The project adds over 1000 maps to our collective digital holdings in the Scholars GeoPortal.

The project traces its beginnings back to 2011, when the idea for digitizing historic topographic maps had been identified as a strategic goal by the OCUL Map Group. A major impetus for the digitization of historical topographic maps came in 2012 when members of the group became aware that the Maps Depository Program run by Natural Resources Canada was ending. In response, an inventory of historic Canadian federal topographic map series was created to determine what was collectively held in Ontario Universities. A small digitization working group was also struck to begin moving the project forward, and this group continued preliminary work on the project throughout 2013. From the outset of the funded project in 2014, Ontario universities contributed their support by supplying and scanning maps, georeferencing the digital images, creating metadata for the records, and developing the online geographical display of the maps for the public to access.

Topographic maps at these scales are heavily used by researchers interested in examining changes over time, such as urban sprawl, transportation patterns, diminishing woodlots, or shoreline erosion.

For more information on this project or to browse the complete collection, please visit the Project Website.

Maps are also available through an interactive online index display in the GeoPortal. To access the map indexes for different map scales, go directly to the Scholars GeoPortal:

D-Day, other WWII Military Maps

In commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the D-day landings, the OCUL Geo Community, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS), the University of Waterloo, and McMaster University, collaborated to release a historically significant collection of 87 military maps to the public. The project aimed to improve access to these maps by making them freely available online and offering visual exploration and download through the Scholars GeoPortal platform.
These 87 maps of various scales were originally part of a collection created by the Allied powers in advance of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. The collection includes various materials such as defence overprints, tank “going” maps, and flooding overprints. It primarily concentrates on those areas of Western Europe that were the focus of Allied forces in the initial months following the D-Day landings.
The maps were acquired by the Laurier Centre for Military, Strategic and Disarmament Studies (LCMSDS) in 1991 from the Department of Defence, Canada, and were recently digitized and georeferenced at the University of Waterloo Geospatial Centre. Sheet-level description was done with help from the University of Waterloo Geospatial Centre, McMaster University’s Lloyd Reeds Map Collection, as well as the expertise of many others in the OCUL Geo Community. Digital scans of these maps, along with other historical military maps are available from the McMaster University Library.
The digital collection can be accessed through the Scholars GeoPortal by clicking on the Military and Intelligence subject category, or by searching for “Second World War.”

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