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Your basemap is served

Think of your basemap as your meal tray, it helps you carry your plate, cutlery, drinkware, and napkin all in one go.

“Basemaps serve as a reference map on which you overlay data from layers and visualize geographic information.” That is the ArcGIS Pro definition of basemaps. In other words, basemaps are the bottom layer of your operational map or application on top of which you add other pieces of information. Think of your basemap as your meal tray, it helps you carry your plate, cutlery, drinkware and napkin all in one go.

The documentation goes on to explain that basemaps are typically updated on an infrequent basis. We on the Community Maps team beg to differ on that. Up-to-date basemaps impact the relevancy of your final map or application. Your users will have a better understanding of your narrative with an accurate basemap. If you’ve ever used the Community Map of Canada vector basemaps, you know that a new version of the map is published twice a week incorporating daily updates from our over 270 contributors.

Of course, we all know that the ArcGIS system comes with a preset gallery of basemaps readily available for use. This collection includes five Community Map of Canada standard styles: Light Grey, Dark Grey, Streets, Streets Night, and Topo. Previously these maps were simply branded with an Esri Canada logo on a blue banner. Today you’ll see they are more prominently featured with an additional red half-maple leaf.

The Community Map of Canada vector topo basemap is accessible via three different locations:

  1. Living Atlas
  2. Direct webpage
  3. ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online Basemap Gallery

If you’re not seeing them as part of your basemap gallery, here are six easy steps to add them to your gallery - assuming you’re the administrator on your account. If not, please share this blog with your administrator if you want access to these maps.

Click on the image for a larger view

Now that you’ve enabled the Community Map of Canada basemap, you can easily build on it as is, or use the Esri Vector Style Editor to customize it to your liking.

Have I managed to spark your curiosity to learn more? Join our webinar Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to activate the Community Map of Canada on April 27. Esri Canada’s Solution Architect John Osborne and I will help you boost your app development using the Community Map of Canada. Alternatively feel free to get in touch with me directly at

This post was translated to French and can be viewed here.