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Maps & geospatial data

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The Geographic Information Centre (GIC) is now part of the Department of Geography.

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Key resources

  • SimplyMap Canada 
    Enables non-technical users to create thematic maps and reports comparing demographic, business, and marketing data across geographic regions. GIS users can export data and corresponding shapefiles and use them in ArcGIS. 5 concurrent users.

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Geospatial data

McGill Library collects geospatial data primarily for the Montreal region, secondarily for Quebec, Canada and the United States. For technical assistance with data, contact the Geographic Information Centre (GIC). The GIC actively supports the teaching, learning, and research activities of McGill University in the areas of Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing.

Most of the data sets in the Library's collection are licensed to McGill University; use of these data are restricted to students, faculty, and staff for academic teaching and research purposes. Users are required to fill out a Geospatial Data Request form and sign a Data License Agreement before using the files.

GIS software is required to view or use geospatial data. A list of free data-viewers is provided below. McGill Library does not endorse or provide support for any of these viewers

      • ArcGIS Explorer is a lightweight GIS data viewer developed by ESRI. This is a complete data explorer that allows users to display and query a wide selection of data sources.
      • Bentley View is an AutoCAD file viewing application that allows users to open, view, and print DGN, DWG, and DXF file formats.
      • Geomatica FreeView is a data viewing tool provided by PCI Geomatics that supports the loading, viewing, selection, and enhancement of over 100 raster and vector file formats.
      • Google Earth provided by Google.
      • Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a user friendly Open Source Geographic Information System. It runs on Linux, Unix, Mac OSX, Windows and Android and supports numerous vector, raster, and database formats and functionalities.
      • TatukGIS Viewer allows users to view most GIS/AutoCAD and raster image file types and most ArcView, ArcExplorer, and MapInfo projects.


McGill Library has an extensive map collection, with primary emphasis on Montreal, the province of Quebec, Canada, and the United States. The collection also includes international atlases, topographic maps and thematic maps for many of the world's countries.

Rare Books and Special Collections holds most historical maps and atlases, dating from 1556 to 1940. Significant maps in the collection include plates from the atlases of Willem Blaeu, Gerard Mercator, and Abraham Ortelius.

Topographic maps

Nautical charts

Aeronautical charts

Thematic maps

Online maps and atlases

Airphotos and satellite imagery

The Geographic Information Centre has a collection of nearly 50,000 airphotos. Aerial photo coverage is primarily for Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The Centre's collection also includes digital orthophotos, DEMs and satellite imagery covering various regions of Canada and the world.

Subject guides

Citation guides to cartographic materials

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