I work at a public library that houses an archival collection. We have a copy of a map lithograph from the Dominion Lands Office (Canada) dated 1878. I was trying to determine what the projection of the map might be and was wondering if it would be appropriate to ask a question about that on GIS Stack Exchange?

I tried to find something online, and there is no small amount of information about map projections online. Unfortunately, I'm just having trouble interpreting the descriptions into a set of criteria to compare against the map I have.

The map we have has curved parallels and meridians that are wider at the bottom than the top. (The top being closer to the pole in this case.) I think this makes the map a conical projection, but I'm not sure. Also, I thought perhaps I might be able to find a flow chart or similar to help me make a more precise determination. On the other hand, maybe this is simply a lot more difficult to do for someone who is not a map expert.

Update I have now asked Determining projection of paper map? on the main site.

  • Can you take a photo of the map and upload it? Subject to copyrights of course..
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 21:26
  • 5
    Definitely on topic! It's GIS, not 'Electronic GIS'! I've had to deal with this kind of thing in the past (ancient British colonial maps of East Africa), so keen to see how this gets figured out.
    – Simbamangu
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 14:33
  • @Mapperz: Given that the Map is from 1878, I don't think that it would be in copyright now. but IANAL, so I may be wrong. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 8:37
  • Devdatta Tengshe - some maps from military might be old (100 years+) but subject to copyright and 'only eyes for' - from wiki > Accordingly, copyright in literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works currently expires 70 years from the end of the calendar year of the author's death. Where the work has more than one author, the copyright expires 70 years after the death of the last survivor of them
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 13:53
  • As long as you ask it in both English and French. Seriously though, I think the question generalized to something like "How do I determine the projection used in a paper map?" would be a great question. Commented Mar 29, 2012 at 19:45
  • @Mapperz I can't post the whole thing as it is difficult to photograph with the equipment I have and doesn't fit in the flatbed scanner. I will ask about permission to post some partial scans.
    – moberley
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 3:02

1 Answer 1


I believe such a question is on topic. If you cannot provide details you can expect to get only general answers, most of which are already available on this site. Details would enable interested readers to provide specific suggestions for your particular situation.

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