The historic colony of Nova Scotia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) used the term township as a subdivision of counties. In Prince Edward Island's case, the colonial survey of 1764 established 67 townships, known as lots, and 3 royalties, which were grouped into parishes, and hence into counties; the townships were geographically and politically the same. In New Brunswick, parishes have taken over as the present-day subdivision of counties, whereas present-day Nova Scotia uses districts where appropriate.
In Ontario, there are both geographic and political townships. Most of Ontario, except for the sparsely populated far north, is subdivided into geographic townships. These are used primarily for geographic purposes, such as land surveying, natural resource exploration and tracking of phenomena such as forest fires or tornados.
A political township is an incorporated municipality consisting of one or more geographic townships united as a single entity with a single municipal administration, usually consisting of one or more communities that are not incorporated for various reasons. Often rural counties are subdivided into townships. In some places, usually if the township is in a county rather than in a regional municipality, the head of a political township is called a reeve, not a mayor. However, this distinction is changing as many rural townships are replacing the title reeve with mayor to reduce confusion. A few townships keep both titles and designate mayor as the head of the municipal council and use the title reeve to denote the representative to the upper tier (usually county) council.
The term "geographic township" is also used in reference to former political townships which were abolished or superseded as part of municipal government restructuring.
In the Prairie provinces and parts of British Columbia, a township is a division of the Dominion Land Survey. Townships are (mostly) 6-mile (9.7-km) by 6-mile squares - about 36 square miles (95 km²) in area. These townships are not political units (although political boundaries often follow township boundaries), but exist only to define parcels of land in a relatively simple way. Townships are divided into 36 equal 1-mile (1.6-km) by 1-mile square parcels known as sections. Refer to the article about the Dominion Land Survey for further details about section numbering and the further subdivision of land parcels.