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Mapping the data patterns

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Statistics Canada gathers an enormous amount of data about our population, society and culture when it conducts its many surveys and, every five years, the census. Analysts use not only tables, charts and plain language writing to convey their findings from all that census data, they also use maps and mapping tools—available for everyone to use free at under Maps and geography. These include reference maps, thematic maps and interactive maps.

Reference maps show the location of the geographic areas using census geography. These maps display boundaries, names and statistical codes of standard geographic areas. Reference maps show the major visible features, such as roads, railroads, coastlines, lakes and rivers.

Thematic maps make data easier to understand. They let users see the data’s spatial patterns. Geographers use data from the census and surveys to create thematic maps for a range of subjects, such as land cover by major drainage areas, the proportion of the population by level of education and by census division, and the proportion of obese people by health region.

Map 15.5  Adult obesity, by health region, 2005

Interactive maps show places on a map and give the latest trove of census and other data for those places. Statistics Canada maintains 10 categories of interactive mapping tools, including Community Profiles, Crop Conditions, Federal Electoral Districts and a mapping tool called GeoSearch, which makes it easy to see basic geographic and census data for any place in Canada.

All these mapping tools transform data into pictures to help us better understand what the numbers mean and who we are as a nation.