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:
- the maps were amazing.
- the interface was pathetic. It took forever to find and download a map.
- the file structure on the site was very well organised.
The Toporama site has been replaced by a new government server that offers online maps through what amounts to a GIS interface, but the ability to download the 50K maps seems to be gone.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.