Mapping Land Theft – An interactive map of the Treaties and Land Surrenders from 1680 to 1903

The following interactive map represents the expansion of Crown lands over time, whose amalgamation has become known as Canada. This map presents the boundaries of sections of land documented in Indian Treaties and Surrenders documents (1680-1890 and 1890-1903) published by the Department of Indian Affairs Canada in 1905 and 1912 respectively. While the focus of this map is the above stated documents, other treaties such as the Numbered Treaties, Upper Canada land surrenders/Williams treaties, Robinson treaties, Modern treaties, Treaties of Peace and Neutrality and Peace and Friendship Treaties are included as to provide further context. Using the dates of each treaty and land surrender, the map animates the progression of Crown expansion and treaty agreements over time, in a format inspired by a map called Invasion of America, created by Claudio Saunt, which shows Indigenous land loss in the United States .

The present map is a work in progress and will grow as more entries from the Indian Treaties and Surrenders documents are mapped. So far, each mapped entry includes a polygon denoting the boundaries described in the documents, which can be clicked on to open a pop-up with more information about the treaty, including a link to the entry in the Indian Treaties and Land Surrender documents hosted on and other links, images, relevant Index text from the document, some general notes on the polygon, authorship and reference materials. The creation of the polygons has heavily depended on past research published online and this research is referenced within each polygon.

To use the map application, use the slider bar at the bottom to scroll through, or use the play/pause/forward/backward buttons to run the animation. Clicking on a polygon on the map will bring up the corresponding pop-up. As many polygons overlap, you may have to toggle through overlapping pop-ups using the forward and backward buttons at the bottom- or top-right corner of the pop-up. 

As work continues on this dynamic and interactive map, the interpretation of the Indian Treaties and Land Surrender documents will benefit from the input of all those interested. As such, the project is open to collaboration in the creation of more map polygons and related research. At the same time, we will be working to organize the data presented in more meaningful ways to best benefit the telling of this land’s stories.

For any comments, questions, or contributions, please reach out.

Click here for a full page view of the web app.

About the map and the team

This map contains the work of several people working over a number of years.

Paola di Carlo located the available datasets in 2017 as part of her Honours Thesis.

Emma Nelson digitized most of the polygons and created the database in 2021 as part of a Master's research assistantship. 

Patrick Arteaga prepared the web map in 2022 as part of a Master's research assistantship.