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What is a chain?

When the surveyors originally surveyed parcels of land in BC for the early homesteaders they used a compass and a chain. A chain is a measuring device that used to be made out of metal, now nylon, and is usually about 300 feet long

A chain is also a measurement. One chain equals 66 feet. The surveyor would measure his distances by stretching the chain along the ground measuring 4 chains at a time. One useful fact to know is that the majority of properties in BC are 40, 80, 160, or 640 acres. So if we take 160 acres, the property would measure 2640 ft by 2640 ft, or  40 chains by 40 chains. A section is 80 chains by 80 chains. Chains are still used to measure property today, with the hip chain being my favorite tool to measure distances with.

A hip chain consists of a small plastic box about the size of two fists, and it works by running a spool of thread though a measuring counter, either in feet or meters. Once you tie your thread to the corner post and set the counter to 0, pull your compass out and start walking. As the thread unwinds, you can look at the counter to see how far you have gone. Carry a extra roll and you can walk all day and never run out of thread.

Do you have any other questions related to property measurement? Click here to contact a NIHO Land specialist for more answers.