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LSD and the Art of Finding Rural Addresses

Photo by Natalie Rhea Riggs on Unsplash

LSD and the Art of Finding Rural Addresses

You’ve consulted Google Maps, a paper map, a cartologist, the Bible, and a shaman all to help you solve this problem.

Heck, you’ve even tried Apple Maps! And you’re still no closer to figuring out where this rural address is.

Not only did Google Maps fail to bring you to the correct address, it offered you three options in three very different areas of the province, and not one of them was remotely close. If you’d picked even the closest one, you’d still be lost. Google Maps often inaccurately identifies rural addresses, leaving you kilometers or hours away from where you intend to be.

Now you’ve got to call the customer for a third time to try to narrow down the area further.

He’s already told you twice that it’s the first exit off the highway, then drive for five miles (or wait, was it minutes?), past the red barn, then head South and it’s on the right hand side. If you see the sheep (singular, not plural), then you’ve gone too far. 

You can’t miss it, he says. Well, you’re pretty sure you’ve missed it.

Your driver is on the verge of a mental breakdown, and for good reason. This is his first delivery of the day, and he’s got five more like it still to go!

How is anyone supposed to live like this? Why are these addresses not on Google Maps? What IS a township road? And why is there only one sheep!?


We get it. And we’re one step ahead of you.

It all starts with LSD. No, not that kind of LSD. 

Photo by Mohit Kumar on Unsplash

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Legal Subdivisions

A legal subdivision is a portion of how a map is gridded and divided.

The Dominion Land Survey System divides Western Canada into a grid consisting of “Townships”.

There are township divisions running from the Ontario/Manitoba border through to the Alberta/BC border.

Since the Alberta/British Columbia border is uneven, it means there are a varying number of Townships between the two borders. To help simplify, the Alberta Township Survey (ATS) divides Alberta using Meridians, starting with the 4th Meridian on the Alberta/Saskatchewan border, to the 6th Meridian cutting through Alberta and BC.

Each individual township division is a six mile by six mile square, broken down internally into 36 sections which each cover 1 square mile of land.

The townships each have an ATS Map Address written as a six digit code.

For example, 424050.

This breaks down to identify as West of the 4th Meridian, Range 24, and Township 50 (written as 050 to account for the township numbers that exceed 100).

Each section contains 640 acres of land. The section is then broken down into quarters, designated as NW, NE, SW, and SE. Each of these quarters contains 160 acres of land. The final breakdown to Legal Subdivisions happens here, where each quarter is divided into 16 equal parts, measuring in 10 acres each. This 10 acres of land is a Legal Subdivision.

Each LSD has a land descriptions to identify it, and it’s written out in the following form:


This means it’s the 6th LSD of Section 16, Township 50, Range 24, West of the 4th Meridian.

LSD identifications are most commonly used in the oil and gas industry to get workers and emergency services to remote locations without confusion, and without getting lost (where there may or may not be sheep as landmarks for direction).