First Nations reserves – Western Canada

S​earch this database to find maps and plans that relate to First Nations reserves and settlements in Western Canada. This includes British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon and the Northwest Territories (as well as areas that are now part of Nunavut but were formerly part of the Northwest Territories). Dates range from 1770-1990, but are mostly 1880-1919.

Note: In common usage, a reserve is also referred to as a First Nation or First Nation territory.

Search the records

  • Go to Collection Search and click on “Advanced Search”
  • In the "All these words" box, enter a keyword such as the
    • the name of the reserve, agency, place or settlement
    • the name of a person
    • a subject
  • In the "Database" box, select "First Nations Reserves – Western Canada”
  • Optional: for “Date”, enter a specific year or time period
  • Optional: for "Specific terms," select "Reserve number" or “Microfiche number” and enter it in the box to the right for a more precise search
    • reserve number refers to the agency or reserve number
    • “NMC” or “C” prefixes are no longer commonly used. If you are entering a Microfiche number, just enter the number, without the NMC or C prefix
    • search with multiple specific terms by clicking on the “+” to the right of the text box
  • Optional: in the “Province” box, select the province or territory for which you are searching
    • Only British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, and Northwest Territories will turn up results
  • Click the "Search" button

Search Tips for place and reserve names

Since the database contains descriptions of old documents, it may be necessary to search using historic names, outdated expressions, and words whose spelling or meanings have changed over time. Some records have been updated with current names, but most will still have older terms.

  • The agency names, reserve names and reserve numbers used in this database are based on the Schedule of Indian Reserves and Settlements published by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, in 1972.
    • For places not included in this publication, the lists published in the Department's annual reports were used.
  • In the case of regions not officially confirmed as reserves, the name used at the time the map was created is shown.
  • Example of place name: Hobbema or Maskwacis

Access the records

The maps described here are both published and unpublished, and are generally limited to single records. About 1,200 items have been digitized.

If the record is not digitized, you have several options.

Include these details from the database entry when completing the copy or retrieval form for non-digitized items:

  • Title
  • Accession number
  • Microfiche number

About the records

The federal government was responsible for the administration of western lands, which included setting aside reserves for the exclusive use of bands that had signed a treaty.

To prevent the sale of reserve lands to non-Indigenous persons and towns, a complete legal description of the land was filed with federal agencies and local land registry offices. Maps and plans are an important part of the legal description of any reserve. Later, the documents were part of any development of those lands. Architectural and engineering documents are not included in the database.

This database contains approximately 1,500 maps and plans. It is an updated electronic version of volumes 1 and 2 of Maps of Indian Reserves and Settlements in the National Map Collection compiled by Linda Camponi and published in 1980-1981.

It is intended as a list of maps of agencies, reserves and settlements mostly found in the holdings of the:

  • Department of Indian Affairs (RG10, Black Series)
  • Commission Respecting Indian Lands and Indian Affairs in the Province of British Columbia, 1913 (RG33/104)
  • Indian Claims Commission, 1966-1977 (RG33/115).

Dates

The date field refers to the date of compilation, publication, distribution, printing, copyright, etc.

  • Dates enclosed in square brackets do not appear on the item but have been inferred by staff from a variety of sources
  • Double dates, for example 1755 (1803), indicate that newer information was added to an item after it was first compiled
  • The first date indicates the first date of compilation, and the second date indicates when the item was last updated
  • The term n.d./s.d. refers to items for which no date can be assigned.

Language of the records

The item-level descriptions used in this database are written in the language of the original map or plan; most of the descriptions are in English.

Related resources at Library and Archives Canada

Refer to the Bands and Agencies guide to find the name of a reserve or settlement.

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