Download Topo Maps for Free

Not sure when these became available or why, but you can download topo maps for all of Canada for free. They are available in 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 resolutions. Many thanks to Dan Greenberg for passing on the original instructions.

How to find the NTS map reference number

There are several ways to find the NTS map reference number. They all start at http://maps.nrcan.gc.ca/topo_metadata/index_e.php

To do a visual search:

  1. Click on the Clickable Map of Canada link
  2. Keep clicking and zooming in until you get to a "metadata" table
  3. The leftmost column of the table has the "NTS" map number. Note it down. For example, the NTS number for the city of Ottawa is 031G05.

To do a search by name:

  1. Click on the Geographical Name Query link
  2. Enter the search criteria and click "Submit Query". A results table will appear. DO NOT try to click on the "Map" link in the last column of this table. It always times out.
  3. The 5th column of the table has the NTS map number. Note it down. For example, the NTS number for the city of Ottawa is 031G05.

How to download a map

Once you have the NTS map number, you can go to another site to download the map. The maps are stored in a group of nested folders that correspond to the NTS number. So using the example of Ottawa (031G05):

  1. Start at http://ftp2.cits.rncan.gc.ca/pub/canmatrix/
  2. If you want a 1:50,000 map, click on the 50k_300dpi/ link
  3. If you want a 1:250,000 map, click on the 250k_300dpi/ link
  4. You now can see a list of folders with 3-digit numbers. These correspond to the first 3 digits of the NTS number. So the Ottawa map will be in the 031 folder. Click on that link.
  5. You now can see a list of folders with 1-letter names. These correspond to the letter in the 4th position of the NTS number. So the Ottawa map will be in the G folder. Click on that link.
  6. In the case of a 1:250,000 map, you will only see a single Zip file. Download it by clicking on the link.
  7. In the case of a 1:50,000 map, you will see several Zip files. The full NTS number is part of the file name, so Ottawa is in file canmatrix_031g10_tif.zip. Download it by clicking on the link.

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Page last modified by NeilHerber, August 29, 2012, at 09:30 AM