Boundary Files, Reference Guide

Release date: September 13, 2017

This reference guide is intended for users of the 2016 Census Boundary Files. The guide provides an overview of the files, the general methodology used to create them, and important technical information for users.

What's new?

  • A new geographic area, the Aggregate Dissemination Area (ADA), has been introduced for the 2016 Census.
  • All 2016 Census spatial files are available as national files.
  • Metadata files based on the Harmonized North American Profile of ISO 19115:2003 for Government of Canada Geospatial Data are now available for 2016 Census spatial data products.

1. About this guide

This reference guide does not provide details on specific software packages that are available for use with the 2016 Census Boundary Files. Users are advised to contact the appropriate software vendor for information.

This data product is provided 'as-is,' and Statistics Canada makes no warranty, either express or implied, including but not limited to, warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. In no event will Statistics Canada be liable for any direct, special, indirect, consequential or other damages, however caused.

2. Overview

The 2016 Census Boundary Files depict boundaries of standard geographic areas established for the purpose of disseminating census data. See Figure 1.1 Hierarchy of standard geographic areas for dissemination, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

The 2016 Census Boundary Files provide a framework for mapping and spatial analysis. They are available for download in two types: cartographic and digital. Cartographic boundary files depict the geographic areas using only the shorelines of the major land mass of Canada and its coastal islands. Digital boundary files depict the full extent of the geographic areas, including the coastal water area. Figure 2.1 illustrates an example of cartographic and digital boundary files.

The 2016 Census Boundary Files are similar to the 2011 Census Boundary Files in format. Each boundary file includes the unique identifiers, names and types (where applicable) of all higher level geographic areas available at time of release.

Figure 2.1 Example of a cartographic boundary file and a digital boundary file (provinces and territories)

Description for Figure 2.1

Figure 2.1 shows two representations of Canada's provincial and territorial boundaries. The map on the left shows an illustration of Canada as it appears in a cartographic boundary file. It is a detailed representation of Canada’s land masses (including islands) and shorelines. Internal bodies of water, such as lakes and rivers, are also shown.

The map on the right shows a map of Canada as it appears in a digital boundary file. It is a generalized illustration of Canada’s boundaries. Each province and territory is represented by a single polygon, thus the boundaries extend into bodies of water, rather than follow the shoreline. As a result, boundaries may cut through lakes, extend into oceans, or follow the approximate centres of rivers.

For more information on this figure, please contact Statistics Canada at 1-800-263-1136.

Source: Statistics Canada, 2016 Census of Population.

Cartographic and digital boundary files are portrayed in Lambert conformal conic projection (North American Datum of 1983 [NAD83]). They are available for the following geographic areas:

  • aggregate dissemination areas
  • census agricultural regions
  • provinces and territories
  • census divisions
  • economic regions
  • census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations
  • census consolidated subdivisions
  • census subdivisions
  • federal electoral districts (2013 Representation Order)
  • census tracts
  • dissemination areas
  • dissemination blocks
  • population centres
  • designated places
  • census division population ecumene

Hydrographic reference files are also available:

  • coast
  • lakes and rivers
  • rivers

How to cite this guide

Boundary Files, Reference Guide, Second edition, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-160-G .

How to cite this product

Boundary Files, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-160-X.

Dissemination Block Boundary File, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-163-X.

Census Tract Boundary File, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-168-X.

Dissemination Area Boundary File, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-169-X.

Federal Electoral District Boundary File, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 92-171-X.

3. About this product

Purpose of the product

The purpose of the 2016 Census Boundary Files is to provide a framework for mapping to support Geographic Information System (GIS) applications used for land use and demographic studies, or social, economic and market research. Geographic identifiers permit linkage of statistical data to geographic areas depicted in the boundary files. Boundary files can also be used to create new geographic areas by combining standard geographic areas. The boundary files are positionally consistent with the 2016 Census Road Network File, which provides additional reference for geographic context for mapping applications.

Definitions and concepts

Geographic terms and concepts are briefly defined in the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016

Content

In general each boundary file contains the unique identifier (UID), name and type (where applicable) of the geographic level the file represents, as well as the UID, name and type of all higher level geographies where available at time of release.

Geographic areas are portrayed in parts where the geographic area straddles a provincial or territorial boundary. For example, the census metropolitan area/census agglomeration geographic areas are portrayed in parts.

All files are available in English and in French, in three formats: ArcGIS® (.shp), Geography Markup Language (.gml), and MapInfo® (.tab).

General methodology

The National Geographic Database (NGD) is a joint Statistics Canada-Elections Canada initiative to develop and maintain a national spatial database which serves the needs of both organizations. The focus of the NGD is the continual improvement of quality and currency of spatial coverage using updates from provinces, territories and local sources. The native file used for the creation of the spatial files resides on Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure and was derived directly from data stored in the NGD environment.

To produce the files, the following processes were applied:

Creation of the 2016 Census Digital Boundary Files

For digital boundary file creation, spatial and attribute information were extracted using the lowest level of geography, also known as the basic block. Primary data manipulation of the product layers included preserving the geographic hierarchy of the attributes inherent within a geographic level. The basic block native file was copied into a SDE feature dataset and stored as a feature class to facilitate geo-processing (e.g., projecting, joins, transforming and verification operations).

All of the higher level geographies were created from the basic block level. The files were verified for their spatial and attribute content, translated into French and English, and appropriately named according to the file naming convention (see Technical Specification section). Final data processing consisted of the conversion from the SDE feature dataset feature class format, using FME® (Safe Software), into the following file formats supported by Geographic Information System (GIS) software: ArcGIS® (.shp), Geography Markup Language (.gml), and MapInfo® (.tab).

The ArcGIS®, Geography Markup Language and MapInfo® files were compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip) and made available for download from the Statistics Canada website.

Creation of the 2016 Census Cartographic Boundary Files

As with the digital boundary file creation, the spatial and attribute information for the cartographic boundary file creation were extracted at the lowest level of geography, the basic block. The spatial and attribute information of the hydrography component were extracted. The basic block and the hydrography spatial components were copied into a SDE feature dataset and stored as a feature class to facilitate geo-processing (e.g., projecting, joins, transforming and verification operations).

To create the cartographic boundary files, a subset of the full hydrography; the coastal layer was created. This subset of coastal hydrographic features was then used to erase the portions of the basic block that are covered by coastal waters.

The files were verified for their spatial and attribute content, translated into French and English, and appropriately named according to the file naming convention (see Technical Specifications section). Final data processing consisted of the conversion from the SDE feature dataset feature class format, using FME® (Safe Software), into the following file formats supported by Geographic Information System (GIS) software: ArcGIS® (.shp), Geography Markup Language (.gml), and MapInfo® (.tab).

The ArcGIS®, Geography Markup Language and MapInfo® files were compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip) and made available for download from the Statistics Canada website.

Creation of the 2016 Hydrographic reference files

The inland water layer was created by selecting water features from the National Geographic Database's hydrographic reference layers. These reference data were sourced from the National Topographic Data Base (1:50,000 and the 1:250,000 maps) and the Digital Chart of the World. In selected areas, information was supplemented with data from the National Hydro Network.

Coastal file

The coastal file was created by selecting a subset of hydrographic features which represent the coastal water bodies surrounding the land area of Canada for use with the suite of cartographic boundary files.

Inland lakes and rivers (polygon)

The inland polygon lakes and rivers file contains a selection of internal water bodies and islands not found in the coastal layer.

Inland rivers (line)

The inland river file contains a selection of linear water features such as rivers and streams.

The ArcGIS®, Geography Markup Language and MapInfo® files were compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip) and made available for download from the Statistic Canada website.

Limitations

The positional accuracy of these files does not support cadastral, surveying, digitizing or engineering applications.

The input data used to create the files was obtained from several sources having a wide range of scales. Boundary files will not be precise if plotted at a larger scale than the scale of the source material used in its creation. Maps created from the boundary files should not be used to determine the precise location of boundaries. They are not intended to serve as a legal or cadastral representation of the geographic areas.

Comparison to other products/versions

Each 2016 Census Boundary File is compatible with other 2016 Census Boundary File products. It portrays its respective geographic area boundary, as well as selected attributes for all higher level geographies that respect the geographic hierarchy, available at the time of release. Boundary files are derived from the same native sources. The attributes found in each of the boundary files are compatible. Where applicable, boundary files contain the same unique identifier, name and type.

The 2016 Boundary Files are similar but not necessarily consistent with the boundary file products released prior to the 2016 Census.

The 2016 Boundary Files can be linked to other 2016 census data products using the unique identifier (UID) for each geographic area.

Using with other products

When considering using the 2016 Census Boundary Files, users should be aware of the compatibility of these files with other similar files. Boundary files are available for download on the Internet from other websites; however, they may not be consistent with Statistics Canada files.

Reference date

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada to finalize the geographic framework for which census data are collected, tabulated and reported. The reference date for the geographic area boundaries in cartographic and digital boundary files is January 1, 2016.

4. Technical specifications

Record layouts and data descriptions

Aggregate Dissemination Area

The Aggregate Dissemination Area Boundary Files portray the aggregate dissemination area boundaries for which census data are disseminated.  An aggregate dissemination area is a grouping of census tracts or census subdivisions or dissemination areas.

Census Agricultural Region

The Census Agricultural Region Boundary Files portray the census agricultural region boundaries for which Census of Agriculture data are disseminated.  Census agricultural regions are groupings of census divisions.

Province and Territory

The Province and Territory Boundary Files portray the boundaries of the 10 provinces and 3 territories for which census data are disseminated. Provinces and territories are the major political (legislated) areas of Canada. The files contain the boundaries of all provinces and territories which combined cover all of Canada.

Census division

The Census Division Boundary Files portray the census division boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A census division is an area of regional government (such as a county or regional district) or an area treated as equivalent for statistical purposes. A census division is usually made up of a number of adjacent census subdivisions (municipalities). The files contain the boundaries of all census divisions which combined cover all of Canada.

See Table 1.4: Census division types by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

Economic region

The Economic Region Boundary Files portray the economic region boundaries for which census data are disseminated. An economic region is a grouping of complete census divisions (with an exception in Ontario) created as a standard geographic area for analysis of regional economic activity. The files contain the boundaries of all economic regions which combined cover all of Canada.

Census metropolitan area/census agglomeration

The Census Metropolitan Area and Census Agglomeration Boundary Files portray the boundaries of the census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations for which census data are disseminated. Census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations consist of one or more adjacent municipalities (census subdivisions) around a core. To form a census metropolitan area, the core must have a population of at least 50,000 and the entire census metropolitan area must have a total population of at least 100,000. To form a census agglomeration, the core must have a population of at least 10,000. The files contain the boundaries of all census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations defined for the census. Census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations crossing provincial boundaries appear in the boundary files in provincial parts.

There are four census metropolitan areas/census agglomerations that cross provincial boundaries. In each of these cases, the census metropolitan area/census agglomeration is divided by the provincial limit and is represented as two polygon records in the boundary file.

The four census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations that cross provincial limits are:

  • Census Agglomeration of Campbellton, CMAUID 330, crosses the New Brunswick/Quebec provincial boundary
  • Census Agglomeration of Hawkesbury, CMAUID 502, crosses the Quebec/Ontario provincial boundary
  • Census Metropolitan Area of Ottawa - Gatineau, CMAUID 505, crosses the Quebec/Ontario provincial boundary
  • Census Agglomeration of Lloydminster, CMAUID 840, crosses the Saskatchewan/Alberta provincial boundary

Census consolidated subdivision

The Census Consolidated Subdivision Boundary Files portray the census consolidated subdivision boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A census consolidated subdivision is a grouping of adjacent census subdivisions (municipalities) within the same census division used primarily for disseminating Census of Agriculture data. The files contain the boundaries of all census consolidated subdivisions which combined cover all of Canada.

Census subdivision

The Census Subdivision Boundary Files portray the census subdivision boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A census subdivision is a municipality or an area treated as equivalent to a municipality for statistical purposes (for example, Indian reserves and unorganized territories). Municipal status is defined by laws in effect in each province and territory in Canada. The files contain the boundaries of all census subdivisions which combined cover all of Canada.

SACTYPE

The Statistical Area Classification type is a one-digit code that identifies whether a census subdivision is a component of a census metropolitan area (CMA), a census agglomeration (CA), a census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ) or in the territories.

SACCODE

The Statistical Area Classification code is a three-digit code that identifies for which census metropolitan area (CMA), census agglomeration (CA) or census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ) a census subdivision is a component. The MIZ categories, which denote the degree of influence that the CMAs and/or CAs have on these zones, are: strong (code 996), moderate (code 997), weak (code 998), no influence (code 999), or the territories (code 000), where the classification is not applicable.

Federal electoral district

The Federal Electoral District Boundary Files portray the federal electoral district boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A federal electoral district is an area represented by a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons. The federal electoral district boundaries used for the 2016 Census are based on the 2013 Representation Order. The files contain the boundaries of all federal electoral districts which combined cover all of Canada. The Federal Electoral District boundary files portray the federal electoral districts in effect on January 1, 2016.

Census tract

The Census Tract Boundary Files portray the census tract boundaries for which census data are disseminated. Census tracts are small, relatively stable geographic areas that usually have a population less than 10,000 as per the previous census. They are located in census metropolitan areas and in census agglomerations with a core population of 50,000 or more in the previous census. The files contain the boundaries of all census tracts located within the census metropolitan areas and census agglomerations for which census tracts are delineated.

Dissemination area

The Dissemination Area Boundary Files portray the dissemination area boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A dissemination area is a small area composed of one or more neighboring blocks.

The digital boundary file contains the boundaries of all 56,590 dissemination areas which combined cover all of Canada. The cartographic boundary file contains the boundaries of 56,589 dissemination areas. 35510090 falls completely in coastal water and is not included in the cartographic boundary file.

Dissemination block

The Dissemination Block Boundary Files portray the dissemination block boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A dissemination block is an area bounded on all sides by roads and/or boundaries of standard geographic areas and is the smallest geographic area for which population and dwelling count data are available.

The digital boundary file contains the boundaries of all 489,905 dissemination blocks which combined cover all of Canada. The cartographic boundary file contains the boundaries of 489,676 dissemination blocks.

Below is a list of the 229 dissemination blocks which are not included within the cartographic boundary file. These dissemination blocks are located entirely within coastal waters and were therefore removed during the production of the cartographic boundary file.

Dissemination blocks not included within the Dissemination Block Cartographic Boundary File - DBUID

10010503031
10010504001
10010520001
10010535028
10010556009
10010682008
10010714024
10010719015
10010724015
10010750032
10020079020
10020079021
10020117005
10040109013
10070487003
10070514010
10070519018
10070519027
10070549011
10070550003
10070550004
10080167009
10080167013
10080170007
10080221016
11030099010
11030160014
11030168041
12010049007
12010049008
12010049009
12090838005
12090846023
12090846024
12090846025
12090846026
12090846027
12090846028
12090901006
12090980004
12090981004
12120110001
12120122009
12170352018
12170352019
12170353005
12170355009
12170357004
12170358009
12170362009
12170367007
12170374015
12170378014
12170389013
12170393016
12170395006
12170396012
12170397005

12170398001
12170399002
12170400004
12170403016
12170404019
12170405014
12170406019
12170415010
12170417023
12170420005
12170425009
12170426003
12170429029
12170432005
12170440003
12170443008
12170446005
12170449013
12170450010
12170451012
12170517013
12170522009
12170528012
12170531004
13020063004
13020072020
13020072021
13020072022
13080068033
13080068034
13140162003
13150159001
13150166005
13150170003
13150220001
13150322021
13150326011
13150342017
13150343013
13150347008
24020064006
24020064012
24180040016
24180046016
24180055028
24180055030
24180063014
24180072018
24230066001
24230066014
24250187026
24250187027
24250195011
24250296011
24250300015
24250300017
24250300018
24250300019

24250300021
24340089017
24340089019
24370299011
24370308017
24370308019
24380045022
24380045028
24520099015
24520100018
24530073008
24530108023
24530124037
24530126014
24530126016
24530126018
24530126020
24590012045
24590012047
24590012049
24590012051
24590012053
24590012056
24590012057
24650667005
24663335023
24670307016
24670307020
24700067026
24700067028
24700088041
24700090013
24700151018
24700151020
24710146015
24710189012
24710191012
24710191014
24710191015
24710191017
24710191019
24710191021
24710194018
24710242019
24710244022
24970125025
35110128025
35120346018
35120346019
35120371016
35120371019
35120371020
35120392021
35120392023
35204675005
35370813015
35370840029
35380295018

35410146019
35420230022
35420255011
35430603024
35430603026
35430612021
35430612023
35430869042
35430869044
35430869046
35431329012
35510072001
35510090001
35510090002
35580385052
35580385101
35580433001
35600296010
35600323009
59150871005
59153241016
59153569008
59153569009
59153576012
59153602005
59153663024
59153663026
59153663029
59153663032
59170331005
59170634010
59170648027
59170648032
59170654007
59170654009
59170654011
59170688001
59190305008
59190316002
59210260004
59210274010
59210274012
59230154032
59240212006
59240215009
59240260010
59240264015
59260424007
59260432012
59290165002
62040038023
62040038044
62040038045
62040038049
62040062039


Population centre

The Population Centre Boundary Files portray the population centre boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A population centre has a minimum population concentration of 1,000 persons and a population density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre, based on the current census population count. The files will contain the boundaries of all population centres defined for the census. Population centres crossing provincial boundaries appear in the boundary files in provincial parts.

Designated place

The Designated Place Boundary Files portray the designated place boundaries for which census data are disseminated. A designated place is usually a small community that does not meet the criteria established by Statistics Canada to be a census subdivision (an area with municipal status) or a population centre. Designated places are created by provinces and territories, in cooperation with Statistics Canada, to provide data for submunicipal areas. The files will contain the boundaries of all designated places defined for the census.

Hydrographic reference layers

The hydrographic reference layers are provided to allow for the mapping of inland water, oceans, Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The hydrographic layers were created to be used in conjunction with the boundary files. The record layout in Table 4.17 below is for interior water (polygons), coastal water bodies (polygons) and interior rivers (lines).

Attribute domain values

CDTYPE

Attribute domain values
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attribute domain values. The information is grouped by CDTYPE (appearing as row headers), CD description (appearing as column headers).
CDTYPE CD description
CDR Census division / Division de recensement
CT County / Comté
CTY County
DIS District
DM District municipality
MRC Municipalité régionale de comté
RD Regional district
REG Region
RM Regional municipality
Territoire équivalent
TER Territory / Territoire
UC United counties

CSDTYPE

Census subdivisions are classified according to designations adopted by provincial/territorial or federal authorities.

CSDTYPE
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attribute domain values. The information is grouped by CSDTYPE (appearing as row headers), CSD description (appearing as column headers).
CSDTYPE CSD description
< Null > not applicable
C City / Cité
CC Chartered community
CG Community government
CN Crown colony / Colonie de la couronne
COM Community
CT Canton (municipalité de)
CU Canton unis (municipalité de)
CV City / Ville
CY City
DM District municipality
HAM Hamlet
ID Improvement district
IGD Indian government district
IM Island municipality
IRI Indian reserve / Réserve indienne
LGD Local government district
LOT Township and royalty
M Municipality / Municipalité
MD Municipal district
Municipalité
MU Municipality
NH Northern hamlet
NL Nisga'a land
NO Unorganized / Non organisé
NV Northern village
P Parish / Paroisse (municipalité de)
PE Paroisse (municipalité de)
RCR Rural community / Communauté rurale
RDA Regional district electoral area
RGM Regional municipality
RM Rural municipality
RV Resort village
S-É Indian settlement / Établissement indien
SA Special area
SC Subdivision of county municipality / Subdivision municipalité de comté
Settlement / Établissement
SET Settlement
SG Self-government / Autonomie gouvernementale
SM Specialized municipality
SNO Subdivision of unorganized / Subdivision non organisée
SV Summer village
T Town
TC Terres réservées aux Cris
TI Terre inuite
TK Terres réservées aux Naskapis
TL Teslin land
TP Township
TV Town / Ville
V Ville
VC Village cri
VK Village naskapi
VL Village
VN Village nordique

CMATYPE

Census metropolitan area or census agglomeration type.

Census metropolitan area or census agglomeration type
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attribute domain values. The information is grouped by CMATYPE (appearing as row headers), CMA description (appearing as column headers).
CMATYPE CMA description
B Census metropolitan area (CMA)
D Census agglomeration (CA) that is not tracted
K Census agglomeration (CA) that is tracted
< Null > not applicable (outside of CMA or CA)

SACTYPE

The Statistical Area Classification type is a one-digit code that identifies whether a census subdivision is a component of a census metropolitan area (CMA), a census agglomeration (CA), a census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ) or in the territories.

Statistical Area Classification code
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attribute domain values. The information is grouped by SACCODE  (appearing as row headers), SACCODE description (appearing as column headers).
SACCODE  SACCODE description
000 Territories, classification is not applicable
001-995 CMA or CA
996 Strong
997 Moderate
998 Weak
999 No influence

SACCODE

The Statistical Area Classification code is a three-digit code that identifies which census metropolitan area (CMA), census agglomeration (CA) or census metropolitan influenced zone (MIZ) a census subdivision is a component of. The MIZ categories, which denote the degree of influence that the CMAs and/or CAs have on these zones, are: strong (code 996), moderate (code 997), weak (code 998), no influence (code 999), or the territories (code 000) where the classification is not applicable.

Statistical Area Classification type
Table summary
This table displays the results of Attribute domain values. The information is grouped by SACTYPE  (appearing as row headers), SACTYPE  description (appearing as column headers).
SACTYPE  SACTYPE  description
1 Census subdivision within census metropolitan area
2 Census subdivision within census agglomeration with at least one census tract
3 Census subdivision within census agglomeration having no census tracts
4 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area/census agglomeration area having strong metropolitan influence
5 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area/census agglomeration area having moderate metropolitan influence
6 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area/census agglomeration area having weak metropolitan influence
7 Census subdivision outside of census metropolitan area/census agglomeration area having no metropolitan influence
8 Census subdivision within a territory

File specifications

Not applicable

Software formats

Boundary Files for the 2016 Census are available for download from the Statistics Canada website in the following formats:

  • ArcGIS® format
    File extension: .shp
  • Geography Markup Language version 3.1.1
    File extension: .gml
  • MapInfo® format
    File extension: .tab

System requirements

Not applicable

File extension and accented character information

The ArcGIS®, Geography Markup Language and MapInfo® files are compressed into WinZip® files (file extension .zip).

A XML schema file (.xsd) is included to describe and validate the structure and content of the .gml files.

Some of the 2016 Boundary Files contain attributes with accented characters. They were successfully tested on desktop versions of ArcGIS® 10.2.2, MapInfo® 12.0 and FME Data Inspector 2015.1.

Geographic representation

The 2016 Census Boundary Files are available on the Statistics Canada website in the following geographic representation:

  • Projection: Lambert conformal conic
  • False easting: 6200000.000000
  • False northing: 3000000.000000
  • Central meridian: -91.866667
  • Standard parallel 1: 49.000000
  • Standard parallel 2: 77.000000
  • Latitude of origin: 63.390675
  • Linear unit: metre (1.000000)
  • Datum: North American 1983 (NAD83)
  • Prime meridian: Greenwich
  • Angular unit: degree
  • Spheroid: GRS 1980

The North American Datum of 1983 (NAD83) is an adjustment of the 1927 datum that reflects the higher accuracy of geodetic surveying.

Users of 2016 Census Boundary Files can transform the files into the representation that best satisfies their needs knowing the effects these representations have on angles, areas, distances and direction. Users have the option to choose the best projection in concert with the maps objectives.

File naming convention

Spatial product file names follow a file naming convention. The geographic area and code, file type, geographic reference date, software type and language are embedded within the file name. Standardizing the names of the files facilitates the storage of compressed files, all having the extension .zip.

Each file name is 13 characters in length. All alphabetic characters are in lower case to maintain consistency.

First character: projection of file

  • l – projection in Lambert conformal conic

Next three characters: primary geographic level of file

  • ada - aggregate dissemination area
  • car - census agricultural region
  • pr_ - province/territory
  • fed - federal electoral district
  • er_ - economic region
  • cd_ - census division
  • csd - census subdivision
  • ccs - census consolidated subdivision
  • cma - census metropolitan area/census agglomeration
  • ct_ - census tract
  • da_ - dissemination area
  • db_ - dissemination block
  • hy_ - supporting hydrography (Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, oceans, etc.)

Next three numbers: geographic code of coverage

  • 000 - Canada

Next character: file type

  • a - digital boundary file
  • b - cartographic boundary file
  • c - interior lakes and rivers hydrographic reference file (polygon)
  • d - interior rivers hydrographic reference file (line)
  • e - ecumene
  • h - hydrographic coverage of Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and surrounding oceans

Next two numbers: geographic reference date

The geographic reference date is a date determined by Statistics Canada for the purpose of finalizing the geographic framework for which census data are collected, tabulated and reported. For 2016 Census products, the geographic reference date is January 1, 2016.

  • 16 - geographic reference date is 2016

Next character: file format

  • a - ArcGIS® (.shp)
  • g - Geography Markup Language (.gml)
  • m - MapInfo® (.tab)

Final two characters: language

  • _e - English
  • _f - French

5. Data quality

Spatial data quality elements provide information on the fitness-for-use of a spatial database by describing why, when and how the data are created, and how accurate the data are. The elements include an overview describing the purpose and usage, as well as specific quality elements reporting on the lineage, positional accuracy, attribute accuracy, logical consistency and completeness. This information is provided to users for all spatial data products disseminated for the census.

Lineage

Lineage describes the history of the spatial data, including descriptions of the source material from which the data were derived, and the methods of derivation. It also contains the dates of the source material, and all transformations involved in producing the final digital files.

Boundary files

The geographic area unique identifier, name, type, and the relationships among the various geographic levels are found on Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure. The data for administrative areas are updated using information from provincial, territorial and municipales sources.

Positional accuracy

Positional accuracy refers to the absolute and relative accuracy of the positions of geographic features. Absolute accuracy is the closeness of the coordinate values in a dataset to values accepted as or being true. Relative accuracy is the closeness of the relative positions of features to their respective relative positions accepted as or being true. Descriptions of positional accuracy include the quality of the final file or product after all transformations.

The Spatial Data Infrastructure is not fully Global Positioning Systems (GPS)-compliant. However, every possible attempt is made to ensure that the geographic area boundaries maintained in the Spatial Data Infrastructure respect the limits of the administrative entities that they represent (e.g., census division and census subdivision) or on which they are based (e.g., census metropolitan area or census agglomeration). The positional accuracy of these limits is dependent upon source materials used by Statistics Canada to identify the location of limits. In addition, due to the importance placed on relative positional accuracy, the positional accuracy of other geographic data (e.g., road network data and hydrographic data) that are stored within the Spatial Data Infrastructure is considered when positioning the limits of the geographic areas.

Within Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure, dissemination block representative points were generated using ArcGIS® software in conjunction with their respective cartographic boundaries. The most detailed hydrography available was used in identifying cartographic boundaries and calculating representative points in Statistics Canada native format. Efforts were made to ensure that representative points do not fall in water, where possible. After geo-processing the dissemination block boundary file and the hydrography files (e.g., projecting, appending, transforming and verification operations) and converting into ArcGIS (.shp), Geography Markup Language (.gml) or MapInfo (.tab) files, these manipulations may have caused slight shifting of some of the underlying land and hydrography features resulting in representative points falling in water.

Attribute accuracy

Attribute accuracy refers to the accuracy of the quantitative and qualitative information attached to each feature (e.g., census subdivision name, unique identifier).

As noted under Lineage, the attributes (names, types and unique identifiers) for all geographic areas are sourced from Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure. The names and types of administrative geographic areas have been updated for the 2016 Census using source materials from provincial, territorial and municipal authorities.

The attribute data associated with the polygons in the boundary files were verified against the data in the Spatial Data Infrastructure and found to be accurate.

Logical consistency

Logical consistency describes the fidelity of relationships encoded in the data structure of the digital spatial data.

In each boundary file, all geographic areas have been verified to have a unique identifier that is valid for the 2016 Census.

The hydrographic data files were created for the boundary files to enable thematic mapping at local and regional scales.

Consistency with other products

Topology checks were performed with the road network file and boundary files to measure the degree of integration amongst these products. The results indicated the degree of integration was within the default tolerance parameters as defined below.

XY Resolution: 0. 000005 metres

XY Tolerance: 0.00001 metres

Completeness

Completeness refers to the degree to which geographic features, their attributes and their relationships are included or omitted in a dataset. It also includes information on selection criteria, definitions used, and other relevant mapping rules.

It is important to note that in both digital boundary files and cartographic boundary files, a geographic area may be depicted by more than one polygon. In the digital boundary files there are some geographic areas that have two or more parts. This is particularly the case for some census subdivisions. In cartographic boundary files, this is due to having removed the coastal water area from the digital boundary files, thus creating several polygons for one geographic area. In the cartographic boundary files this impacts only on geographic areas that are situated in coastal areas.

Appendices

See definitions of the geography universe from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Figure 1.1 Hierarchy of standard geographic areas for dissemination, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table 1.1 Geographic areas by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.

See Table 1.5 Census subdivision types by province and territory, 2016 Census from the Dictionary, Census of Population, 2016.


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