GeoBase (geospatial data)

GeoBase is a federal, provincial and territorial government initiative that is overseen by the Canadian Council on Geomatics (CCOG). It is undertaken to ensure the provision of, and access to, a common, up-to-date and maintained base of quality geospatial data for Canada. Through the GeoBase, users with an interest in geomatics have access to quality geospatial information at no cost and with unrestricted use.[1]

GeoBase Principles

These are the fundamental principles that GeoBase operates under and that direct the decision making process on a regular basis:

  1. Source, regional and—where practical—national data all share the same geometry.
  2. GeoBase provides national data coverages.
  3. Source data is collected once and used by many.
  4. Source data is collected and maintained closest to the source.
  5. The cost of maintenance and update is shared among the levels of government.
  6. All GeoBase data is available at no charge.
  7. GeoBase data has no restrictions on its subsequent use.
  8. GeoBase data uses a common license.

Data Layers

Provincial, territorial, and municipal stakeholders agreed to work together to ensure the availability of high-quality geospatial data covering the entire Canadian landmass. This data is collected once and maintained closest to the source and provided free through the GeoBase with no restrictions for users.

GeoBase has partnerships with federal, provincial, territorial, municipal government, and private companies, with the dual goals of eliminating data duplication and optimizing collectively available resources. GeoBase partners are involved in different levels of the data production process such as project funding, sharing of source data or by working on data collection and data processing.[2][3]

All GeoBase data must conform to the following technical characteristics:

  1. GeoBase data elements carry a unique and singular ID.
  2. GeoBase data comply with a standard data model and meet or exceed a minimum standard for accuracy, resolution, and currency.
  3. Metadata is defined and standardized at the entity level.
  4. GeoBase data and all associated tools adhere to international standards.
  5. GeoBase data is seamless across Canada.
  6. GeoBase data is consistent across layers.

Geographical Names Data Base

The purpose of this layer is to store names and their attributes that have been approved by the Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC) and to make these authoritative records available for government and public use.[4] These records include the names of over 70,000 populated places and administrative areas; 300,000 water features; and 115,000 terrain features (e.g., mountains and peninsulas).[5]


Provincial and Territorial Agencies
British ColumbiaBC Geographical Names
AlbertaTourism, Parks, and Recreation
SaskatchewanInformation Services Corporation of Saskatchewan
ManitobaManitoba Geographical Names Program
OntarioMinistry of Natural Resources and Forestry
QuebecCommission de toponymie du Québec
New BrunswickHistoric Places
Prince Edward IslandProvincial Treasury
Nova ScotiaGeographic Information Services
Newfoundland and LabradorDepartment of Environment and Conservation
YukonDepartment of Tourism and Culture
Northwest TerritoriesPrince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre
NunavutGovernment of Nunavut
Federal Agencies
Canada Post; Canadian Hydrographic Service; Elections Canada; Earth Sciences; Geological Survey of Canada; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; Library and Archives Canada; Natural Resources Canada; National Defence; Parks Canada; Statistics Canada; Translation Bureau[6]

National Road Network

Since 2003, GeoBase has provided a consistent, accurate, and current NRN. The first edition of the NRN depicted the centerline of over 1.1 million kilometers of non-restricted use roads in Canada. In the fall of 2007, the second edition of the NRN was launched. NRN 2.0 includes place names, street names, and address ranges between intersections.[7]

Road network data provides the framework for many geomatics applications such as mapping, geocoding, geographic searching, and area delineations. NRN data can be used in a wide variety of activities, including managing road operations, business development and marketing, transportation, and government services delivery (e.g. census and elections).[8]


The following organizations are 'closest to the source' partners actively working as the authoritative data providers of GeoBase's National Road Network:

Provincial and Territorial Agencies
British ColumbiaBase Mapping and Geomatic Services
AlbertaInfrastructure and Transportation
SaskatchewanInformation Services Corporation
ManitobaManitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship
OntarioLand Information Ontario
Prince Edward IslandTransportation and Public Works
Nova ScotiaGeographic Information Services
YukonYukon Government
Northwest TerritoriesNorthwest Territories Centre for Geomatics
Federal Agencies
Natural Resources CanadaNatural Resources Canada
Statistics CanadaStatistics Canada
Elections CanadaElections Canada
National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces CanadaCentre for Security Science (DRDC CSS)

Geopolitical Boundaries

This data layer contains the international, inter-provincial, and territorial boundaries, as well as the boundaries of Canada’s exclusive economic zone. It is not intended for legal use, and should be utilized for cartographic purposes only. The dataset is composed of three files: an administrative boundary file, an administrative areas file, and a metadata file.[9]


The authoritative data source providers for this data layer are:

National Hydro Network

The NHN focuses on providing a quality geometric description and a set of basic attributes describing Canada’s inland surface waters. It provides geospatial digital data describing hydrographic features such as lakes, reservoirs, rivers, etc., as well as a linear drainage network and the toponymic information (geographical names) associated to hydrography.[10]


GeoBase is joined by the following provincial/territorial partners for this data layer:

British ColumbiaIntegrated Resource Operations - GeoBC
QuebecMinistère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
YukonHighways and Public Works - Geomatics Yukon
OntarioMinistry of Natural Resources

Geodetic Network

The Canadian Geodetic Network data has created a dynamic infrastructure to serve both present and future needs for positioning. As well as being a GPS control network, the Geodetic Network can serve as a monitoring network for deformation studies of the Canadian landmass.[11]

Satellite Orthoimages

GeoBase Orthoimage 2005–2010 is made from SPOT 4/5 earth observation data covering Canada's landmass south of the 81st parallel; approximately 5000 images will be acquired during the period 2005–2010. Each orthorectified satellite image covers an area of approximately 3 600 km², or 60×60 km of the Earth’s surface. In addition, Landsat 7 provides a complete set of cloud-free orthoimages covering the Canadian landmass.[12]

The GeoBase SPOT 4 and SPOT 5 orthoimagery can be used in a wide variety of applications including: mapping; agriculture; forestry; geology; land-use planning and management; maritime monitoring; disaster management and mitigation; and in defence, intelligence, and security.

GeoBase SPOT orthoimagery is aligned with, and can be integrated with, other GeoBase data layers. It can also be used in combination with other remotely sensed data.[13]


With funding support from GeoConnections, the following federal and provincial/territorial agencies jointly contributed to the production of the orthoimages:

Provincial and Territorial Agencies
British ColumbiaBase Mapping and Geomatic Services
AlbertaEnvironment and Sustainable Resource Development
SaskatchewanInformation Services Corporation of Saskatchewan; Saskatchewan Research Council
ManitobaManitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship
OntarioMinistry of Natural Resources
QuebecMinistère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
New BrunswickService New Brunswick
Prince Edward IslandGovernment of Prince Edward Island
Nova ScotiaService Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
Newfoundland and LabradorGovernment Services
YukonHighways and Public Works - Geomatics Yukon
Northwest TerritoriesCentre for Geomatics
NunavutCommunity and Government Services
Federal Agencies
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Canadian Transport Agency; Elections Canada; Environment Canada; Fisheries and Oceans Canada; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada; National Defence; Natural Resources Canada; Parks Canada; Statistics Canada; Public Safety Canada.[3]

Canadian Digital Elevation Data

Canadian Digital Elevation Data (CDED) consists of an ordered array of ground elevations at regularly spaced intervals. The source digital data for CDED is extracted from the hypsographic and hydrographic elements of the National Topographic Data Base (NTDB) or various scaled positional data acquired from the provinces and territories.[14]


Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and the following provincial agencies jointly produced the CDED files, with funding support from GeoConnections:

Provincial Agencies
British ColumbiaBase Mapping and Geomatic Services
AlbertaEnvironment and Sustainable Resource Development
OntarioMinistry of Natural Resources
Nova ScotiaService Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations
YukonYukon Department of Highways & Public Works
Federal Agencies
Natural Resources CanadaCanadian Forest Service; Earth Sciences[15]

New Data Layers

A process is required for the acceptance of a new data theme into GeoBase. The objectives of having such a process are:

  1. Ensure that any theme added to GeoBase will meet the requirements of most Canadian geomatics data clients.
  2. Ensure that the data for the theme to be added is or will be available with some long term certainty.
  3. Ensure that data custodians and coordinators will adhere to the GeoBase principles.


  1. For more information, see the Open Government Licence - Canada.)
  2. GeoBase - About Archived 2015-11-25 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed May 16, 2008.
  3. GeoBase - Partners List. Accessed May 16, 2008.
  4. GeoBase - Canadian Geographical Names Archived 2008-05-08 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  5. The Canadian Geographical Names Data Base (CGNDB) 1997 Archived 2008-06-11 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed July 17, 2008.
  6. Geographical Names Board of Canada - Members Archived 2008-05-31 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed May 22, 2008.
  7. GeoBase - National Road Network. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  8. "National Road Network", GeoBase informational insert sheet. ISBN 978-0-662-48833-0
  9. GeoBase - Canadian Geopolitical Boundaries. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  10. GeoBase - National Hydro Network. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  11. GeoBase - Canadian Geodetic Network. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  12. GeoBase - Satellite Imagery. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  13. "Orthoimage 2005-2010", GeoBase informational insert sheet. ISBN 978-0-662-48831-6
  14. GeoBase - Canadian Digital Elevation Data. Accessed May 15, 2008.
  15. GeoBase - Partners List Archived 2008-06-09 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed May 15, 2008.
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