Digital Topo Maps from NRC

Find and download Digital Topographic Raster Maps from NRC. Convert the UTM coordinates to GPS coordinates.

It is time to plan your adventure. You have all your gear, tent, sleeping bag, canoe, compass and a hundred things more that help you enjoy the Great Outdoors. Now you need a map. Canada may be big, but you can get a map from practically anywhere.

Canada MapWe could start and explain how it works, but Natural Resources Canada did a fine job with the instructions. Take some time to read through The Basics from the Topographic Maps page. Open the PDF and get started. It is an introduction to the art of maps.

Now you are ready to download your maps from Natural Resources Canada in digital format. The maps are in 1:250,000 or 1:50,000 scale. The 1:250,000 for 042I Moose River is about 70 cm by 55 cm print size, or about 8300 by 6550 pixels. 1 Millimeter on the map is 250 meters on the ground. Finding the right map for your trip may take some practice.

Atlas of Canada - Toporama If you know the name of the place, enter it in the "Find a Location".
We find it easier to just zoom to the spot that we need. Zoom in with one-click intervals, it's enlarging very fast.

Coordinates and references Our target is the river / railway crossing.
Click the Cross-hair from Get coordinates from map, then click the position on the map.
The pop-up show NTS Mapsheet.
We need the 042 and I for the 1:250,000. We don't yet worry about the 1:50,000.

Open the Download Maps and Data from the Menu,
Select the Raster Maps: Get all maps for all of Canada.
Select the Digital Topographic Raster Maps, 1944-2012.
Find your Download directory, it is the 1:250,000 scale for GeoTIFF format.
Before you click Access, the top three options are the documentation and legend for the maps. You may want to go back later and get yourself a copy of the symbols.
Now it is time to hit the Access button for the 1:250,000 directory.

Atlas of Canada download

You get a list of folders with numbers, we need 042. Remember the NTS Mapsheet said 042I14 - Moose River.
The next folders are alpha, we're after the I.
There are 3 files for this selection. Hover over the file names and watch for the full file name. the is what we're after, actually the 'geotiff' ending. The file is int TIFF format. Now you can open the TIFF in your picture viewer and crop the information you need.
When you see more than 3 files, always select the one with the highest ending, this refers to the version.

Digital Map
Now you got the map in digital format. You can buy them on a 70 by 55cm paper from one of the Map Stores. They are listed on the website.

Digital Map - Moose River

Index of adjoining maps
On the bottom right is the map id with the surrounding maps.

Index of adjoining maps

Meter and Mile Scale
The blue line rosters are actually 10 by 10km grids out in the wild. Below the title is a scale for kilometer and miles.

Legend scale

UTM Base Coordinates
To get the whole UTM coordinates, the prefix numbers are on the side of the map.

UTM base numbers

And the Zone is on the right side of the map.

UTM Zone

Calculate location
This is about all the information you need to find a location based on the Easting and Northing. You can translate these numbers in GPS coordinates and enter in in Google Map.

Get the Easting
The base number is 440000. Use the number on top of a line and the new base is 470000.
Measure the distance from the line to the destination and add this to the base number.
From the paper I was working, the grid size was 5, the distance was 4.75.
We need the decimal number, so 10 / 5 x 4.75 = 9.5.
The new number is 479500 for Easting.
Not very scientific, but the result is correct. You can use inches or Millimeter, as long as you convert to the base 10, or 100, you get the correct result.

Get Easting

Get the Northing
The base is 5640000 but we're counting down, so the new base number is 5620000.
The grid size was 4 and the offset was 3.5. So 10 / 4 x 3.5 = 8.75
The new number is 5628750 for Northing

Get Northing

Use a converter to get the GPS coordinates. Remember, the Zone is 17 as printed on the map.
Zone 17, Easting 479500, Northing 5628750 and the result is: GPS Coordinates 50.810118167490735 -81.2909635729243. Paste the red numbers into Google Map and you get to the train stop near the bridge over the Moose River.

First published on January 16, 2020 Contact Us  Help