Digital boundary files (DBFs)

Detailed definition

Digital boundary files (DBFs) portray the boundaries used for census data collection and, therefore, often extend as straight lines into bodies of water.

Image of digital boundary files


2011, 2006, 1996, 1991, 1986, 1981, 1976


The boundaries of the geographic areas reflect those in effect on January 1, 2011 (the geographic reference date for the 2011 Census of Canada).

The boundaries are generated from the Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI). The boundaries extend into bodies of water, rather than follow the shoreline, to ensure that limits are followed and that all land and islands are included for census enumeration. Thus, boundaries may cut through lakes, extend into oceans, or follow the approximate centres of rivers.

Digital boundary files are not suitable for computing land area, thematic mapping applications or other types of analyses requiring the realistic depiction of shorelines and water bodies, unless the user intends to apply their own shorelines to the boundaries.

Refer to the related definitions of cartographic boundary files (CBFs); road network file (RNF); Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) and to the Boundary Files, Reference Guide (Catalogue no. 92-160-G).

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