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This page contains information relating to mapping activity that is specific to the Province of Manitoba, Canada.

Tagging Guidelines

Please add your comments to the discussion on the talk page.
Additional information can be found in Canadian tagging guidelines.

Quick guide

  • Trunk: Highways 1, 16, 75, and 10 between Brandon and 16.
  • Primary: All other provincial trunk highways (numbers 1-101, excluding the trunks above).
  • Secondary: Provincial roads (numbers above 101)
  • Unclassified: Rural roads that are not part of the numbered highway system. These road are owned and maintained by the municipality in which they are located.
  • Tertiary: Rural roads that are not part of the numbered highway system, are owned and maintained by the municipality in which they are located, yet are more significant than a typical rural road. These roads may be paved but not necessarily, and a paved road does not necessarily make it a tertiary road. Should be based more on traffic flow and the significance of the destination to which they lead.

Highways should get a surface tag indicating paved or unpaved. If there is no surface tag, the assumption is paved.

Highways with one lane in each direction should be tagged as lanes=2, highways with two lanes in each direction should be tagged as lanes=4, etc. A divided highway with two lanes on each carriageway should have two separate ways, each tagged with lanes=2. If there is no lanes tag, the assumption is 2. This follows precisely the tagging procedure described at Key:lanes.

All highways should have ref tags added indicating the highway/road number. Those that are named (e.g. the Trans-Canada highway, the Yellowhead, the Perimeter) should also have name tags.


The highway tag in OpenStreetMap is intended to describe the official classification of a given road. At the same time, this is not enough information to draw a useful map. The official highway map from Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation divides roads into the following categories:

  • Multilane (i.e. divided) provincial highway
  • 2 lane (i.e. undivided) paved provincial highway
  • Gravel provincial highway
  • Proposed provincial highway
  • 2 lane paved provincial road
  • Gravel provincial road
  • Proposed provincial road
  • Other paved road
  • Other gravel road
  • Other road, condition unknown
  • Winter road

This breaks down into a few variables:

  • Official classification (Provincial Trunk Highway/Provincial Road/other)
  • Size (two lane undivided/four lane divided)
  • Surface (paved/unpaved/unknown)
  • Status (existing/proposed/winter)

We can use a similar system for OSM, breaking the four variables into four tags. However, there are a couple points worth noting:

  • Four Provincial Trunk highways (1, 16, 75, and 10) are part of the National Highway System, giving us an additional category ("NHS highways").
  • Divided highways are indicated in OSM by drawing two separate ways, not by using a tag.
  • We shouldn't have roads with an "unknown" surface type. If we've mapped it, presumably we know what it is.
  • Proposed roads are not mapped.

The highway tag is used to record the road's official classification. It also carries certain implications regarding the road itself; notably, highway=motorway implies that the road is a controlled access highway. However, the primary meaning of highway is the official classification. The highest classification in Manitoba belongs to NHS highways, but these are not controlled access, and so cannot be assigned motorway status. Instead, trunk is used. This naturally leads to:

  • Provincial Trunk Highways that are part of the National Highway System (highways 1, 16, 75, and 10): highway=trunk
  • Other Provincial Trunk highways (numbers up to and including 101): highway=primary
  • Provincial Roads (numbers above 101): highway=secondary

Rural roads that are not part of this highway classification system can be tagged as highway=unclassified. This leaves the "in-between" status of highway=tertiary unused, but this class is useful when mapping important roads in urban areas.

In Manitoba, the number of lanes on a highway is not particularly important, since in general, divided highways have two lanes and undivided highways have one. Still, the lanes tag can be used to record the number of lanes of travel in each direction (i.e. for a two-way highway, one lane each way, lanes=2).

The surface of the road does not affect the highway's official classification, and so it does not impact the highway tag. But it is important information, and can be captured in the surface tag. Suggested values are surface=paved and surface=unpaved. Provincial highways and roads that are unpaved are gravel roads; for unclassified roads that are unsuitable for heavy travel (dirt, grass, really bad gravel), consider switching to highway=track.

Note that surface does not currently (May 2007) have any impact on the standard Osmarender or Mapnik layers, so the maps that OpenStreetMaps creates will not differentiate between, for example, paved and unpaved Provincial Roads. This will hopefully change in the future. Custom Osmarender rulesets can be made that will incorporate this data.

Winter roads are not currently being mapped. If you map them, please give some consideration as to the sort of tags that should be used, and document that here.

Manitoba also officially classifies highways as RTAC, class A1, and class B1. These classifications relate to the highway's load limits and freight transport regulations, and are not meaningful to most people. This information is not currently being captured in OpenStreetMap. If you wish to add this information, please document the tagging scheme here.

Grid Roads

The rural road system in Manitoba is a fairly complete grid, with roads built every mile. These roads were built in farming areas long ago, the result is a grid of roads which break down land into square miles, or sections, each comprising 640 acres according to the w:Dominion Land Survey.

Most of these roads are numbered by simply counting how many roads away from the origin that particular road is. Roads running east–west are counted starting at the first baseline on the US border (lat. 49° N). Roads running north–south are counted starting at the Prime Meridian, a seemingly arbitrary starting point located at long. 97.46° W. Manitoba's land location system, still widely used for rural addressing, is also based on these two reference points. For example, the north–south grid road four miles east of the Prime Meridian is Road 4E. The east–west road that is 70 miles north of the US border is Road 70N.

Some municipalities have given these roads names, some haven't. Some sign the road with the name only, some place the name and number while some only have the number as the road has been unnamed. A convention has developed for how to tag these roads in OSM. Road with no given name can simply be tagged as name=Road nnD where nn is the number and D is the direction. Where a road does have a name, tag it as name=Smith Road nnD. The rationale for this is that, even if the municipality doesn't choose to display the road number on signs, that number is still very useful for finding addresses based on either the old land location format or the newer 911 system. In either case, also tag the road with ref=nnD.

Example: For a fictional road named Scotsdale Drive, having the number 24N, should be tagged:

name=Scotsdale Drive 24N

Not all rural roads are necessarily part of the grid. Some areas (particularly near rivers) were never built on the grid, whereas some areas have been developed beyond their original use as farmland and have more roads within them that aren't lined up with the grid. These roads needn't be tagged using this scheme.

Many of Manitoba's highways are built upon what used to be a grid road, or line up with the grid. For example, the west perimeter highway generally follows Road 6E, and the north perimeter from PTH 6 to PTH 8 follows Road 67N.

Road Allowances

In places where the road system is not complete and a road has not been built, a road allowance has nonetheless been surveyed. Although there's no maintained road there, the road allowance permits one to be built. In some cases there is a dirt track used by agricultural equipment, but this is often unmaintained. Road allowances are 99 ft (30.18 m) wide, and do not encroach on the one-mile square section of land that they surround. In other words the land between roads is a full square mile with the allowances added on top of that. Therefore the distance between centres of two consecutive mile roads is 1 mile and 99 feet (1,639.52 m).

Road allowances can often be travelled, but to varying degrees. Some are gravel and unplowed in the winter and often very muddy in heavy rains, whereas others are straight dirt, and some are somewhere in between. Most if not all are at least built up to some degree. This can be tagged with the highway=track tag along with the tracktype=* tag with a value of grade1 to grade5. Based on the guidelines on the main Map Features page, most of these will be between grades 2 and 4. If a road allowance is grown over with trees and therefore completely impassable, or if it is part of the cultivated field, then it shouldn't be marked as even a track.

A road allowance cleared through woods may be mapped as man_made=cutline.

Addressing in Rural Manitoba

Land Locations

See w:Dominion Land Survey for a better description.

Land locations, also referred to as "section, township, and range" are a form of addressing used in rural areas. Their use is being phased out as they have two main disadvantages; they're confusing, almost always requiring a map, and they can only narrow down a location to the nearest quarter section, or one quarter of a square mile. A land location is formatted in four parts; quarter section, section, township and range. The addresses are most easily read backwards, starting with the range, then township, then section and quarter section. The range number is given as a number followed by either east or west. The province is divided into 6-mile ranges starting at the Prime Meridian (long. 97.46° W). Therefore any land location that specifies Range 1E will be found somewhere within the first six miles east of the Prime Meridian. Range 2E means that the location will be found somewhere between 6 and 12 miles east of the Prime Meridian, etc. The township portion of the address specifies a six-mile north–south area in which a location will be found, much like the range portion, starting at the US border (lat. 49° N). Therefor Township 1 means the location is somewhere within six miles of the US border, TWP 2 means somewhere between 6 and 12 miles, etc. Combine the township and range numbers and you have a six-mile square, an area of 36 square miles. This area is then divided into 36 square-mile sections, numbered 1–36 starting at the southeastern corner, moving west to the southwestern corner, then north by one square mile, then to the eastern border, north by one, then west, and so on. Those sections are further divided into quarter sections and labelled by cardinal direction, i.e. NE, SE, NW and SW. The resulting land location is written as, for example, NE1-2-3W (“northeast quarter, section 1, township 2, range 3 west”), or SW36-11-12E, etc.

Since most physical roads are signed by their road number, and no signage appears denoting land location, it becomes necessary to convert land locations to a quarter section adjacent to an intersection of roads. This is most easily accomplished by using a properly labelled map, but can be accomplished mathematically. For example, to determine the range of roads that a township and range reference applies to, simply multiply those numbers by 6, then subtract 6. Therefore a land location of SW36-11-12E would lie somewhere between township roads 60N and 66N, and range roads 66E and 72E. Section 36 is located within the northeastern corner of any six-mile block, or in this case at the corner of 72E and 66N. However, the southeast corner of this section would be most easily accessed from the intersection of road 65N and 71E. A person standing at that intersection could look towards the northwest and would be looking at SW36-11-12E. For this reason, labelling a road with its grid number is helpful, even if the road is primarily referred to by a given name.

As mentioned, there are two main disadvantages to this addressing scheme. For one, its complicated. Most people can't follow the logic and even for those that due its difficult to figure out without using a map. This is time-consuming and error-prone for emergency responders. Furthermore, many people who live in these areas and aren't familiar with the system and have trouble remember their own address. The other limitation, and one that has nothing to do with human error, is the fact that the system can only narrow an address down to a quarter section (0.25 square miles, or 160 acres). There still exist municipalities that only use land locations for addressing, while in those municipalities a quarter section might have 10 or more small acreage homes. These homes are all given the exact same address as the system has no way of further distinguishing them. This system is also useless in areas that don't have roads built on the grid system, unless you have a map to reference from.

How is this mapped in OSM? Well, it’s not for now. Any suggestions?

Gate Addresses

Gate addresses, also known as lane markers or 911 addresses, is an addressing scheme designed to overcome the limitations of the land location system that was and still is in use in rural Manitoba. Gate addresses are made up of a street number along with the name or number of the road on which the location is found. Typically municipalities that have gone to this addressing system display the number on a small reflective green sign with white numbering at the end of the location's driveway. The house number is made up of three parts, a 1–3 digit number, followed by a space, then another 1–3 digit number usually with leading zeros as necessary, then a letter to specify cardinal direction. For example "67 003 N". Combined with the name of the road, for example Sturgeon Road, or 8E, and this provides an address narrowing down the location to within 10 m. As with land locations and the grid road system, the numbers count north from the US border and east or west from the Prime Meridian. The first number, 67 in this case, specifies the nearest crossroad toward the baseline (the US border or Prime Meridian). The second number, 003, specifies the number of metres ×10 between the location and the last crossroad. Therefore, 67 003 N means that the location is 30 metres north of Road 67N. Likewise, an address of 8 123E on Road 67N would be just around the corner, 1230 m east of Road 8E on Road 67N. This presents a theoretical limit on the second number of 160 as there are 1,609 metres in one mile. In some municipalities the cardinal direction isn't displayed on the address. All addresses on a north–south road are north of the US border so the N becomes redundant. Likewise, in a municipality far from the Prime Meridian, it is unnecessary to point out that the address is found either east or west of the Prime Meridian.

This system is much improved over the land location system. It can narrow down an address to within 10 m or 33 ft of frontage. Furthermore it's far simpler and doesn't require a map for someone who has a decent idea of the layout of the land. Even without roads being marked with signs, if one knows their starting point they can simply count miles to end up at the location. Even without a sign at the end of the driveway, its easy to either measure the requisite number of metres from the last crossroad with a vehicle odometer or GPS, or in more sparsely-populated areas to estimate, knowing that 080 would be a half mile down the road, 040 a quarter mile, and so on.

Again, ensuring that grid roads tagged with a proper name also get tagged with their respective grid number makes it easier for locating an address using this system.

As more municipalities adopt the system it will be easier to use this, however, not all places have adopted the new Gate address system especially areas with no grid roads. Box numbers and Rural Route postal addresses are typically addressed to a central mail box and would not be a useful method.


While OSM provides tagging guidelines for determining whether to tag a place as a locality, hamlet, village, town or city. These guidelines are based on population and are not necessarily that useful for Manitoba. Manitoba is somewhat unique in the world for having a very low rural population density, making smaller towns more significant here than they would be elsewhere. Its also difficult to determine populations of some towns in Manitoba. Instead the following simple guidelines have been developed for determining how to tag a place. These are guidelines only and can be adjusted using common sense where necessary. See the talk page for rationale.


A locality is a named place of some significance, that would generally appear on a map and be used as a landmark, but has next to no one living there, not even the clump of houses of a hamlet.


A hamlet is a location where there is a clump of houses together that have been identified with a name but has next to no commercial activity or amenities.


A village is larger than a hamlet and would at least have a school.


A town would at least have a hospital and a high school.


Given that all cities are unique political identities, their populations can be easily determined. By setting the threshold at (an admittedly arbitrary) minimum population of 9,000, the following settlements qualify. (Dauphin, pop. 8,251 in 2011, and Flin Flon, 5,592, are also incorporated as cities.)

  • Brandon
  • Portage La Prairie
  • Selkirk
  • Steinbach
  • Thompson
  • Winkler
  • Winnipeg

Building Footprints

NRCAN released a trove of building footprints from LIDAR, sourced data from the Manitoba Land Initiative. This data can be accessed here:

With some cleanup many buildings can be added to OSM.

MLI already provided a number of buildings in Manitoba, however the data is outdated ~2010 and older.


Mantario Hiking Trail

The Wikipedia:Mantario Hiking Trail is a multipurpose trail in southeastern Manitoba, approximately 150 km east of Winnipeg. Unfortunately, the copyright is non-commercial, and therefore does not comply with OpenStreetMap.

However, Acrosscanadatrails is currently using the Toporama NRCan WMS layer to map out all the features that are near where the trail (should) be. So then when someone hikes this route, they can upload the tracks and fill in the details.

NRCan NTS Tiles 052L03 and 052E14 cover the region

Snoman trails

Snoman (Snowmobilers of Manitoba) maintains winter trails throughout the province. Trails can be tagged:

Trans-Canadian Trail (TCT or Great Trail)

Manitoba now has a unified national network trail - just a matter of putting it into use.

Status: Please note the copyright restriction. ALL trails must be actually navigated with GPS and/or imported from one of the data sources that have the same compatible license as OpenStreetMap. See Canada Import Status. These trail segments are mainly mapped as a national trail network - network=ncn, only if the trail is usable by a bicycle end-to-end (see Cycle routes). Otherwise, the trail segments should be mapped as regular trails.


The Garmin MapSource (Windows) Installer file is available here Routable Manitoba 30 April 2010.exe created from the OSM download of the outline of the province from

Garmin MapSource Maps

PDF Download

See also