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December Updates to the World Topographic Map

The World Topographic Map was updated this week with new content and a new design for 1:144 k, 1:72 k and 1:36 k scales.

The World Topographic Map on ArcGIS Online was updated this past week with some significant Canadian content. Three scales were completely replaced for the entire country, including 1:144,448, 1:72,224 and 1:36,112. These three scales (and the smaller scales) have all been migrated to a newer, lighter template. Updates for the remaining scales will be phased in over the next few months.

A quick comparison of the two templates as displayed in the images below—older design on the left; newer design of the right—clearly shows some big improvements in the quality of the map, including:

  • More muted colours, allowing for better mash-up capabilities
  • Hillshading added to 1:36k and 1:72k scales
  • Greater range and subtlety of hillshading displays at 1:144k
  • Improved label placement
  • Updated map content using more current data
  • Map content drawing on community contributed data when available at these and larger scales
  • Improved hierarchical design for streets and roads

Prince Rupert, BC at 1:144,448 in the old design (left) and the new (right). Note the improved hillshade and lighter map colours.


St. Albert, AB at 1:72,224 in the old design (left) and the new (right). Note the updated map content that draws on data contributed by St. Albert as well as updated federal data. The new design allows community-contributed data to be displayed at smaller scales in comparison to the old design.

Ville de Québec at 1:36,112 in the old design (left) and the new (right). Note the addition of hillshade in the new design, as well as the improved road hierarchy, which is clearer and more muted at the same time.

About the Author

Paul Heersink is a cartographer and Production Manager of Esri Canada’s Community Maps Program: an initiative that is aiming to build a seamless topographic basemap using contributor data. He has over 15 years of cartographic experience, working in both the public and private sectors. Paul has always been interested in mapping and drew his own atlas at the age of 10. He took a detour in his career through the fields of psychology and social work before returning to cartography.

Profile Photo of Paul Heersink