I’m a big fan of free. A few months back I posted about how to get Free World Routing Maps for your Garmin GPS Device, using alternative data from the Open Street Map project. Not satisfied with the data is was issuing for elevation charts (hills are starting to become my nemesis) I hopped upon a Canadian who is making free Topographical Maps that are able to be utilized on your GPS, Mapsource, or Garmin Basecamp.
These maps are created by Dale Atkin who resides in Alberta. He’s using the latest government databases for most of his data so the actual topographic data and some of the road data (depending on province) is much more up to date than Garmin’s own Topo Canada maps (Currently at V4). If you have ever used 1:50,000 federal or provincial topographic maps you’ll be immediately familiar with what you see in these maps.
It’s a big file, 3GB worth! So make sure you have enough space, and a proper internet connection. Once complete you’ll need to install the maps.
It’s a simple process – Burn the .ISO file to a DVD (most burning software can do this, or extract the .ISO file with WinRAR, or another archive management program). You could also mount it with Daemon-Tools or Pismo File Audit Pacakge if you wished.
Simply run the setup file, and it will automatically install it into your system, ready to be viewed by your Mapping software. It’s smart enough to detect if you’ve got a 64bit operating system, so two thumbs up for that, some maps require a bit hacking I have found in the past. Select “Ibycus Topo” from the drop down list in the top left hand corner and you are ready to use the prepared maps.
Dale’s even created a 3part Youtube series for those who wish to follow along on video:
One thing to note, the Ibycus Topo mapping is NOT currently routable. Nor does it have an address database or a general POI database (topographical POIs only). If you need any of these features, you’ll still need Garmin City Navigator or equivalent mapping. At the very least, the Ibycus Topo mapping is great for viewing on a computer and for using as an additional mapping layer on a Garmin GPS device.
You might also want to check out the WikiProject Canada who is in the process of merging both OSM and Topo maps together into a nice downloadable package. They also have a wealth of other information for those interested in going across Canada with a GPS on trails should you not hand over a bunch of money to Garmin for maps.
You can find more information on the Canada Topographical Maps at http://www.ibycus.com/ibycustopo/