• Nighttime view of downtown Winnipeg with Manitoba legislature front and centre

    The Red and Assiniboine Rivers define the southern and eastern borders of downtown Winnipeg, pictured here with the provincial legislature in the foreground. (Photo: Patrick McNeill/Can Geo Photo Club)

Life is complicated. Cities are too. 

In an effort to take a simplified look at Canadian cities, Canadian Geographic has embarked on a multi-part mapping series. The aim is to use the simplicity of consistently scaled maps to tell stories about our nation's major urban areas, focusing first on the downtown cores. 

Here, cartographer Chris Brackley has mapped the downtowns of six Canadian cities. Of course, one challenge he encountered was defining each city's downtown. Although typically "downtown" means the central business area, there is no official definition — though most cities have business improvement associations or municipal bodies that establish the boundaries of the core. Brackley used those as a guide, but the maps here represent Canadian Geographic's own interpretation of the downtown area of each city, based on where it appears neighbourhoods become primarily residential. 

The financial and entertainment districts, major streets, significant transportation infrastructure, key buildings and other important landmarks have been labelled on each map. Individually, each map tells a unique story about how the city functions. Combined, they give an indication of how cities in different parts of Canada are shaped by their geography. Dig in and let us know what you discover! 

Legend

Toronto

Map of Toronto's downtown

Halifax

A map of downtown Halifax

Montreal

A map of downtown Montreal

Winnipeg

A map of downtown Winnipeg

Calgary

A map of downtown Calgary

Vancouver

A map of downtown Vancouver