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Sources of Government Paper Maps (2015) #3133
    Date first written: 2010.09.20   Review Date:2014.01.10

On the Bivouac website, at the bottom of the Paper map list is a list of sources of the government map series. This is where you can order high quality copies of the NTS 1:50,000 and 1:250,000 maps.

In the old days, Canadian Topographic maps (1:50,000 and 1:250,000) were printed on printing presses in large batches in central Canada. They were then supplied to a small list of "Regional Distribution Centers", one per province. These distribution centers then supplied individual map dealers. These old style maps were printed on fairly heavy paper and had the legend on the back of the map.

But nowdays maps are printed on plotters, and can be printed locally. In order to ensure quality, the government maintains a list of "certified Map dealers". Each year, each certified dealer must submit samples to NRCan, who then certify that printer.

These days, the one printer I know well who has been in this business for years, and does a quality job is GoTrekkers.

Other certified printers may be available. As far as I know, all the maps from these dealers are of comparable quality. They are all from the same 300 DPI image files. I have not heard of any difference in paper, ink or printer quality.

The government is no longer in the business of printing and distributing maps. Even when you order from the government, popular titles are printed on plotters. (Although there are still a few of the old heavy paper maps available for obscure areas). (The plotter paper is a bit lighter than the old paper).

In order to guarantee high quality, maps published by Certified Map Printers are supposed to have a special holographic seal of quality.

Some remote maps are only available in black and white. For example, the mapsheet containing Mount Ulysses (094F08) is black and white. This is not a function of the printer - there is no color image for that mapsheet.

So what are the differences in dealers?

  1. Dealers can differ in service. (although as far as I know, the ones we advertise ship the same day.
  2. Shipping: Some dealers will ship small orders (1-2 maps) in a regular envelope, and thus reduce shipping costs to 3.00
  3. Waterproof paper. Some dealers will print the maps on waterproof paper.
  4. Shaded Relief. Some dealers have special versions of the maps that are shaded relief.