Making a map of Canada as a personal project

While I wait for clients to approve map drafts I’ve sent them I work on personal projects for my own interest. If I’m happy with the results I upload them to my storefront on (also known as Fine Art America). I don’t have many maps there yet, but I have several in progress. Right now I’m working on a map of Canada because it’s Canada’s 150th, and I’m a Canadian cartographer and the GeoGratis data is just sitting there.

I would like to incorporate land cover data similar to what Daniel Huffman did with his map of Michigan, but instead using Land Cover circa 2000 vector data from GeoGratis. The amount of data is overwhelming. Even without land cover my Illustrator file is already over 250MB – there are a LOT of lakes and rivers. But I’m still going through the data figuring out how much detail to show. I’ve also been looking at Dave Imus’ Essential Geography of the USA for inspiration.

Loading land cover vector files for a few grid areas at a time chokes Illustrator, so I do a lot of editing in qGIS (splitting the files into specific land cover types then merging and simplifying). I thought about using Landsat images for land cover but need more practice with the supervised classification plugin for qGIS. That might be for the second version of this map.

If I can get far enough on this map I hope to submit it for the map gallery at the NACIS 2017 conference in Montreal, but the deadline is the end of May. The map doesn’t have to be finished by then but I need to be sure I can finish it by October. As I go along I’ll take screen shots and plan to write a blog post showing the progress.

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