Canada details

Chris Walton Chris.Walton at
Tue Oct 31 05:29:52 UTC 2006


I understand your confusion in trying to draw time zone boundaries for Atikokan and Nipigon.

The "Township of Atikokan" and the "Township of Nipigon" are municipalities in Northern Ontario.
Both townships have official boundaries and are officially recognized as municipalities by the province.

The "town" of Atikokan is the built up area (townsite) within the Township of Atikokan.
The "town" of Nipigon is the built up area (townsite) within the township of Nipigon.

Before reading further, please understand that there are both "geographical townships" and "municipal townships" in Ontario.
A "geographic township" is an area of land (usually rectangular in shape) that was given a name by the land surveyors many years ago.
A "municipal township" is a municipality with some local political structure and generally a small population.

The municipality of the "Township of Nipigon" lies exactly within the boundaries of the Nipigon geographic township.
Total area is 109.65 square km with a population density of 17.9 people per square km.

The north half of municipality of the "Township of Atikokan" is comprised of the geographic townships of Schwenger and Freehorn.
The south half of is comprised of an area that was not surveyed in the original Ontario land surveys.
Total area of the municipality is 316.81 square km with a population density of 11.5 people per square km.
Note: there isn't (and never was) a geographic township named "Atikokan".

The time zone boundaries for both Atikokan and Nipigon should presumably follow the municipal township boundaries.
The best way to get the boundaries would be from paper copies of the federal 1:50000 topographical maps.

Here are some online maps that give a general idea of the areas involved:

Look for the black square near the east end of the Rainy River district.

Here is a more detailed map with some latitude and longitude markings.
The Township of Atikokan is the larger of the two black squares in the center of the map.

Look for the black rectangle south of Lake Nipigon

Here is a more detailed map with some latitude and longitude markings.
The Township of Nipigon is near the bottom of the map.

If you are making a time zone map you have to decide whether to lump Quetico Provincial Park in with Atikokan.
Quetico is a large wilderness park. At 4758 square kilometres it is more than ten times the size of Atikokan itself.
It is mostly used by canoeists in the summer and cross country skiers in the winter.
The head office for Quetico is inside the town of Atikokan.
The park staff uses Atikokan time for official purposes.  Campers, canoeists, skiers, etc. can use what ever time they wish.

Also, if you are creating time zone maps for all of Canada, please be aware of recent changes in Quebec time legislation.
If I understand the new legislation, the time zone boundary will no longer follow the 63rd meridian starting next year.
See my notes in:  

Let me know if you need any more info.  If I come across any better maps I will let you know.


-----Original Message-----
From: Oscar van Vlijmen [mailto:ovv at] 
Sent: October 30, 2006 5:29 PM
To: tz at
Subject: Re: Canada details

> From: Jesper Norgaard Welen
> Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2006 00:43:39 -0600
> Subject: Strange historic timezone in Nigeria

> As a side-question, I'm trying to determine a meaningful area for the 
> timezones Atikokan and Nipigon, it seems to me that they would be 
> small, like a US county for instance, but I can't find anything about 
> it. It seems they must be within the larger areas Rainy River district 
> and Thunder Bay district, but how would it look on a map?

Chris Walton put a lot of effort in researching the Canada situation.
Very detailed!
And then there is of course the Matthews-Vincent 1998 article everybody refers to.
It is quite possible that there is simply no more detail available....

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