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Purpose of the product

The purpose of the 2014 Road Network File is to provide a framework for mapping and spatial analysis and to support Geographic Information System (GIS) applications used for land use and demographic studies, social, economic and market research.

The 2014 Road Network File is positionally consistent with the 2014 Census Subdivision Boundary File, which provides additional reference for mapping.

Note: It is recommended that the 2011 Census Road Network File be used as a basis for the retrieval of 2011 Census data for user-defined areas. Users can define their custom areas based on the roads in the 2011 Census Road Network File. Boundaries created with the 2011 Census Road Network File correspond to the 2011 Census geographic frame and therefore do not require additional boundary reconciliation work, which facilitates the geocoding process. For information on custom area creation and geocoding services, please contact the National Contact Centre at 1-800-263-1136 or infostats@statcan.gc.ca.

Definitions and concepts

Geographic terms and concepts are briefly defined in the glossary (Appendix A). More details can be found in the 2011 Census Dictionary (Catalogue no. 98-301-X) and the 2011 Illustrated Glossary (Catalogue no. 92-195-X).


The 2014 Road Network File contains street arcs depicting the national road network and includes attribute information such as street arc unique identifier, name, type, direction, address range and class. As well, the unique identifier (UID), name and type for each side of a street arc (where applicable) are included for the following geographic levels:

  • province or territory
  • census subdivision

Note: The boundaries, names, and codes of census subdivisions, provinces and territories reflect those in effect on January 1, 2014, the geographic reference date for this edition of the Road Network File. Information about census subdivision changes that were effective on or before the January 1, 2014 reference date must be received by Statistics Canada prior to March 1, 2014, in order to be processed in time for this edition of the file.

The 2014 Road Network File is available in English and 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 road network database which serves the needs of both organizations. The focus of the NGD is the continual improvement of quality and currency of road network coverage using updates from provinces, territories and local sources. The source file used for the creation of the road network file resides on Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure and was derived directly from data stored on the NGD.

Creation of the 2014 Road Network File

The Road Network File was created from a source file consisting of all streets, highways and other road segments maintained on Statistics Canada's Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). The source file was copied into a File Geo Database to facilitate geo-processing (e.g., joins, transforming and verification operations). Additional attribute information (i.e., province or territory and census subdivision attributes) were then joined to the spatial component at the road segment level (see Table 4.1). The resulting File Geo Database, containing both the spatial and attribute content, was verified against the source files maintained on the Spatial Data Infrastructure.

The file was verified for spatial and attribute content, translated into French and English and appropriately named according to the file naming convention. Final data processing consisted of the conversion from the File Geo Database 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) file formats.

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


Statistics Canada maintains road network file information to support the census and other Statistics Canada activities. The relative position of road network features is important in maps created for reference purposes; therefore, relative positional accuracy takes precedence over absolute positional accuracy. The Road Network File does not contain street information required for route optimization. For example, data on one-way streets, dead-ends and other street obstacles are not included in the Road Network File. Consequently, this file is not recommended for engineering applications, emergency dispatching services, surveying or legal applications.

The Road Network File contains road arcs with either address ranges sourced from field observation, administrative data sources, imputed address ranges, or no address ranges.

The limitations of the Road Network File should be recognized for uses other than the mapping, analysis and retrieval of Statistics Canada data.

The positional accuracy of the file does not support cadastral, surveying, digitizing or engineering applications.

Comparisons to other products/versions

Differences between the 2014 Road Network File and previous versions of the road network file include:

  • The 2014 Road Network File contains additional roads, street names, address ranges and road class.
  • The 2014 Road Network File does not necessarily reflect 2011 Census boundaries.
  • The 2014 Road Network File includes updates to the road network that were made using the following provincially-sourced data:
    • Ontario Road Network (ORN) in four census divisions in Ontario: Cochrane (3556), Thunder Bay (3558), Rainy River (3559) and Kenora (3560)
    • Alberta in nine census divisions: Division No. 1 (4801), Division No. 2 (4802), Division No. 7 (4807), Division No. 8 (4808), Division No. 9 (4809), Division No. 12 (4812), Division No. 13 (4813), Division No. 15 (4815) and Division No. 18 (4818).
  • The result of this effort is an improvement in the representation of the road network.

Using with other products

When considering using the 2014 Road Network File, users should be aware of the compatibility of this file with those that are available from other sources. 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 statistical data are collected, tabulated and reported. The reference date for the 2014 Road Network File is March 2014.

The geographic areas (e.g., municipalities and equivalents referred to as census subdivisions and provinces or territories) are those in effect on January 1, 2014, provided that Statistics Canada received information on changes by March 1, 2014.

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