50K Topograhical Maps of Vancouver Island

Update... This data can now be found at: Geogratis, in their CanMatrix area. It looks like the Free side won the argument. Everything you can image is now available for easy download, for free.

The rest of this is old news...

The Canadian government prints a lot of maps, including the standard 50K topographical series that most of us grew up with. For a while, there was a government website, called Toporama, where you could download these as large GIFs - available royalty free, even for commercial use.

When I first found this site, three things struck me:
  1. the maps were amazing.
  2. the interface was pathetic. It took forever to find and download a map.
  3. the file structure on the site was very well organised.
So, I whipped up a simple Perl script to grab all the maps for Vancouver Island, all 200 of them, from this very orderly file structure.

The Toporama site has been replaced by a new government server that offers online maps through what amounts to a GIS interface, but the ability to download the 50K maps seems to be gone. However, the original Toporama site is still operational, though I can't find any obvious links to still download the maps.

But, the big surprise is that the maps are still on the server, and you can still download them. Personally, I don't really care... I've downloaded all I want a long time ago. But, I thought other people might be interested, so...

I've created a download page HERE with links to each individual file, at least for Vancouver Island. Get them while you can because I suspect they will disappear at some point.

You can go here to find out which maps cover the area you're interested in.

Here's a small sample of one of the maps available. You should be able to click on it to see the actual resolution.

Here's how they can look after being processed in Ozi Explorer at 50% and 25% zoom.

Rumour has it (and this is just rumour - no facts involved), there is a serious argument going on between two groups of people responsible for government cartography in Canada. One group wants all the data to be publicly accessible while the other groups wants to sell the information. I don't know if this is true, but it sure looks that way when you see how data appears and disappears. Over the last few years, I've collected about 8Gb of mapping data from government FTP servers, and Toporama. Availability seems to come and go; lately, the web-GIS systems seem to be taking over.

I don't like the web-GIS sites because I want the data on my drive, in my applications, where I can mess with it the way I like. Most of the time, I'm in Ozi Explorer with a set of 50K topos that I put together. With my GPS, they make a good combination, better than Garmin's mapsource or anything else I've tried, including ArcView.

Note: the above maps are a derivative work from these 50K topos, as such, I have to say:
"© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, Department of Natural Resources. All rights reserved." This means that they own the original data, but I own the derivative. These maps are available for commercial use, for free! Here's a link to the full license agreement.


Points of Note: Afghanistan, Kandahar Province, Panjwayi District

Here's a Google Earth file that highlights a few places of note in Afghanistan, Kandahar province, Panjwayi district. Basically, I've taken THIS map and georeferenced it in Ozi Explorer. From there, I marked a few waypoints of interest and converted them to Google Earth format. Because the source is a PDF file and, probably, the projection is off, some points don't exactly line up with the satellite images, but it's close enough to at least get an idea of where things are going on. The PDF map has a lot of names on it, and it's searchable, but it appears that various people can't decide on how the western spelling of Afghan names should go. So, it can be frustrating to figure out exactly where people are talking about.

When new place names come up in the news, and if I have time, I'll update the Google Earth file. Note: the file does have a bunch of numbered points. These are just road intersections that I marked as they show roughly how far the map is off in an given area. They don't mean anything else.

You can download the Google Earth KML file HERE

Place of note:

HAWZ-E MAD - Hawz-e Madad, the village where Canadian forces have been conducting Operation Baaz Tsuka. The area south of this is where the Taliban were reported to be holed up. While the village itself is pretty low-res in Google Earth, the area south of that is very detailed.

Other interesting PDF maps of Afghanistan are here:





Similar Posts are listed HERE


A few More Routes on Vancouver Island

I've uploaded a few more tracks I've collected over the last while.

Cowichan Powerline Connector:
A short connector between two rural roads - perfect for dualsporting

Jordan River to Port Renfrew:
The hard way - as run on the 2006 VMC Dualsport Enduro

Mnt Prevost:
North of Duncan, forest service roads.

Old Baldy Mnt:
A lookout by Shawnigan Lake - nice view from the top.

Have fun!

Don't forget to read the DISCLAIMER

Check out all the routes and waypoints HERE

Route from Port Alberni to Horn Lake

This route is only one way of many, I'm sure; there are lots of trails all around the place. I made this route on my KLR650 dualsport, with my girlfriend and camping gear, so it's not particularly difficult. At least, in the summer of 2006 it wasn't difficult: times change. Note that there are a couple of gates to go around, but both had well-worn trails around. There are some benefits to riding a bike.


Download the tracks in Google Earth or Ozi Explorer formats.

Other routes are HERE

Route to Labour Day Lake

Here's a route to Labour Day Lake, from the summit of the Alberni highway down through some 4x4 grade logging roads (as of the summer of 2006) and up to a parking area, sort of. The actual lake is about another kilometre or so down a hiking trail.

It is available for download in both Google Earth and Ozi Explorer formats.

Be sure to read the DISCLAIMER as well.

SIMILAR FILES are available. A detailed ride report is HERE