Dominion Land Survey Guide


The main objective of the Dominion Land Survey is to identify parcels of land within the Prairie Proviences of Western Canada.

The east-west baseline for the DLS system was established at the Canada/US border (along 49°N parallel), with Township lines running east-west (6 mile intervals parallel to the baseline) and are numbered from 1, increasing northward.

The north-south baseline (known as the Principal Meridian) is set west of Winnipeg, MB at approximately 97.5°W longitude. Range lines run north-south, at 6 mile intervals parallel to the Principal Meridian.

The intersection of Townships and Range lines form a parcel of land (called Townships), measuring 6 miles by 6 miles in size.  Due to the curvature of the Earth, Township squares become smaller as you travel northward. To maintain the 6 mile size, coorection lines were used to adjust the Range lines. At the second Township line, and every 4 Township lines from there, the Range lines were adjusted to be 6 miles apart. As a result, Township squares become offset with increasing distance from the Principal Meridian.

A second meridian was established at 102°W longitude, with Range lines surveyed parallel to this new meridian. Township squares were once again aligned in a column, with Range numbers starting over again at 1. This measurement is continued westward, with Meridians occuring every 4° of longitude past 102°W.


A 6 mile by 6 mile Township square is subdivided into 1 mile by 1 mile parcels known as a section. Sections are numbered from the lower right corner, westward 1 to 6, then up and eastward for 7 to 12. This "snake" pattern ends up in the 36th section located in the upper right corner of the Township.


A section can be subdivided into 1/4 mile by 1/4 mile parcels known as a Legal Subdivision (LSD). These number 1 to 16, starting from the lower right corner, following the same pattern as the Section subdivision.

Four LSD's form a quarter section parcel.

*The above information should be used as guidelines only, and is based on past field experience. Clear Directional has made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within, and does not warrant nor guarantee the content.