Thinking Geographically
To understand the steps necessary to help one think geographically when interpreting data on a map.
To practice these steps by interpreting data on a map.

Let's look at the steps one needs to follow to think geographically when looking at data on a map. 

 Step 1: Display data on a map(s)
Step 2:
Look for patterns on the map(s)
Step 3: Analyze the factors that have produced those patterns
Step 4:
Draw conclusions about the potential significance of those patterns.


Below is a map of cities with a National Hockey League team in 1982. As a side note, the Vancouver Canucks went to the Stanley Cup Final that year, unfortunately losing to the New York Islanders 4 games to 0. As the data has already been plotted, Step 1 of "Thinking Geographically" has been completed. Before proceeding to Step 2,

What are two facts that can be stated based solely on the information given on the map?


- The NHL in 1982 had 21 teams (7 Canadian and 14 American)
- There were no NHL teams in Mexico
- Most NHL teams were located in eastern North America
- Most NHL teams were located in the United States

Step 2: What patterns are evident on the map? (Note: One may bring in knowledge beyond what is given on the map in order to identify the patterns.)


generally located in major urban centres
- NHL teams concentrated in the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada
- NHL teams concentrated near major bodies of water eg Atlantic Ocean, Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, or Pacific Ocean
- NHL teams generally located in places with cold winters except for Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Step 3: Why do these patterns exist? (i.e. speculate, hypothesize, analyze)
Hint: Consider from an economic, historical, cultural, and physical perspective.


- the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada were the first areas settled in Canada / United States by Europeans. Therefore, there is the presence of well established urban centres with significant industrial development providing revenues and a large enough fan base to support NHL franchises.
- Major urban centres are located near major water bodies which provide trading routes and water supply which is attractive for settlement
- Cold winters, traditionally have encouraged individuals to play hockey outdoors which has generated interest in the sport

Step 4: What difference does it make? (i.e. Who or what could be affected by these patterns? Why are these patterns significant?)
Hint: Consider from a cultural and economic perspective.


- Culturally:

Hockey is Canada's favourite professional sport and unites its citizens (eg 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics when the men's and women's hockey teams won gold for Canada).

Many hockey fans in Vancouver cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens when they play the Canucks. This is a reflection of the Original Six NHL when Toronto and Montreal were the only Canadian teams in the League along with Boston, Detroit, NY Rangers, and Chicago. The League did not expand until 1967 with the addition of the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Oakland Seals, and Minnesota North Stars.

- Economically:

The National Hockey League generates numerous economic activities and jobs.
eg ticket sales, concession stand sales, player salaries, broadcast revenues, etc.

Practice Work

1a) Examine the map below of NHL Cities in 2003.

2a) Download and examine the map of North America Night Lights .

c) Download, print out, and complete the questions associated with these maps. This exercise goes in "The Nature of Geography" section of your notebook.




Press the button on the Action menu to proceed.