Signage & Wayfaring

The Alberta Township System (ATS) provides the detail for legal land descriptions and wayfaring within the province. The ATS designates land as being west of the 4th Meridian (110 degrees west longitude), 5th Meridian (114 degrees west longitude), or 6th Meridian (118 degrees west longitude).

Between meridians are a series of columns (each six miles wide) called ranges. Ranges are numbered consecutively from east to west, beginning west of the meridian. Townships are also six miles wide and numbered from south to north. The southern Alberta border with Montana is township 1, up to the northern border with NWT at township 126.

"Township" also describes the six-mile by six-mile square formed when the range and township lines intersect. These townships are further divided into 36 sections, each measuring one mile by one mile (one square mile). One section contains 640 acres. A section can be further divided into quarters (NE, NW, SE, and SW) of 160 acres each or into 16 legal subdivisions (LSDs).

Legal land descriptions are written as follows: SW 24-38-20-W5.

The SW 24-38-20-W5 location is - a southwest quarter of section 24, township 38, range 20, west of the 5th Meridian.

It is important to know and be able to describe where you live in case of an emergency, by giving a recognized land location description. For additional detail regarding the ATS: