You might have heard a farmer describe the size of his or her fields in acres. Well, what is an acre? An acre is a unit of measurement, except unlike miles or kilometers, which measure distance, an acre is a measure of area. An acre is any area that is exactly 43,560 square feet; the most common shape is a rectangle roughly 660 feet by 66 feet, although a square field that measures 208.7 feet by 208.7 feet is also an acre. This is the easiest way to picture an acre, if you have ever been to a football game: an acre is about 9/10’s of a football field. A full football field, including the end zones, is about 1.32 acres.
In the western provinces, a farmer might be said to own a “quarter section”, or a “section”. A quarter section is also a measure of area: ¼ square miles, or 160 acres in area. Therefore, a section is 640 acres and is 1 mile by 1 mile in size.
Historically, an acre was the size of area that a pair of oxen could till within one day. Now with modern equipment, farmers can work upwards of a hundred acres per day.
A quick note: An acre is an imperial measurement; the metric measurement of land is in hectares. A hectare is 2.47 acres.