Locate the following point on the 1:50 000 scale map of Winnipeg using UTM co-ordinates.  This is a known location identified by the City of Winnipeg by exact UTM (NAD83 Co-ordinates).  Remember to check the datum for your map and GPSr. Note the shift in the second (northing) letter in MGRS between NAD83 and NAD27. This change was intentionally designed to alert the user to differences when maps moved to a newer datum. Garmin GPS receivers automatically look after the switch others may not (e.g. in some Lowrance units the alternate MGRS (std.+10) needs to be used with NAD27). This is a good reminder to identify the datum that is being used since the difference can be over 1,000km.



UTM 14U 633826 5518867,

MGRS 14U PA 3382618867

N49°48.4388' W097°08.4015'


NAD27 Canada

UTM 14U 633861 5518644,

MGRS 14U PL 3386118644

N49°48.4363' W097°08.3769'


Locate your home, or favourite spot.  Record the UTM/Lat long so you can put these into your GPS receiver later.  Remember to set the appropriate datum prior to entering the location.


If you are ‘GeoCaching’ the most common co-ordinate format that is used is Latitude/Longitude in the format HDD° MM.MMM’ (H represents the hemisphere - N/S, E/W). 


Unfortunately measuring distances can be difficult when working with Lat/Long co-ordinates. When working with Canadian topographic maps I generally recommend using UTM or MGRS measurements because distances are easy to measure with a simple metric ruler.  MGRS (Military Grid Reference System) is just a special format for describing UTM co-ordinates in an abbreviated format.


When reading off of Canadian Topographic maps UTM units (meters) are the light blue numbers running along the sides of the map.  When reporting UTM or MGRS numbers they are typically listed as easting then northing numbers.  I find it easy to remember as ‘enter the door take the elevator’.


The blue numbers and lines on 1:50,000 maps are shown every 1000meters (2cm=1000m).  This makes direct measurements with a ruler or even an approximation by ‘eye’ very simple.  The full UTM co-ordinates are listed at each corner with abbreviated numbers (matching the MGRS 100 000m square reference) listed at every interval.  The 100 000 meter grid numbers in the corner UTM measurements are also enlarged.

Note when using MGRS an even number of numbers are always listed; the more numbers provided the more precise the location. A two character grid identification should also be listed prior to the numbers. This identification is used to identify the specific 100 000m square within the particular UTM zone


UTM:         633827m E  5518867m N

MGRS:       338188            (6 characters indicates 100m)

                   33821886         (8 characters indicates 10m)

                   3382718867     (10 characters indicates 1m)

More Information:
UTM Information (
MGRS Information (