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This article describes how to add Canadian topographic maps to a DeLorme PN-series handheld GPS receiver. Portions of this article are excerpts from a DeLorme XMap forum post by David McKittrick.
Note that the 1:50,000K scale topographic maps for most of Canada are now available at the DeLorme on-line map library. These raster maps can be downloaded into the Topo USA 8.0 software, from where they can be exported to the PN-40 or PN-30 (or PN-20) handheld GPS. The Map Library subscription card entitles the user to unlimited downloads, including the Canadian topographic maps. Here's a sample map. The article below, however, still illustrates the capabilities of XMap software, as any GeoTIFF format map files can be processed in the same way to use them on the PN-series handheld GPS.
level zoom
Canadian Topographic Maps on a DeLorme PN-series GPS Handheld
One of a common points made by our Canadian customers is that there is a limited selection of topographic maps available for use with handheld GPS receivers. Apart from the Garmin Topo Canada product and a similar offering for select Magellan devices, there appear to be no other possibilities. However, a quick Web search reveals the GeoGratis site, hosted by Natural Resources Canada, a department of the government of Canada. This data portal offers access to an expansive online archive of GIS data in both vector and raster format, including a complete collection of geographically referenced topographic maps in GeoTIFF format derived from the 1:50,000 series offered in paper format. Coverage for all of Canada is featured on these maps, and here's a sample of what you can expect:
Canada Topo Sample
The majority of manufacturers do not allow simple GeoTIFF format files to be used with their handheld GPS receivers. Hence these excellent maps typically are used in a printed version only. However, there exists a way to use any of the GeoGratis topographic maps on any DeLorme Earthmate PN-series handheld GPS devices. So, what is needed to accomplish this? Basically, a DeLorme Earthmate PN-series receiver and one of the DeLorme XMap software titles. You can find everything that you'd need at We offer the PN-series devices in a bundle with Topo USA 8.0, which has the added advantage of a complete Canadian street database that also can be used with any PN-series handheld GPS. And, of course, you'll need a computer to accomplish the work needed. While Topo USA 8.0 runs on any flavour of Windows XP and Vista, DeLorme's XMap products are a bit more restrictive. You can find all the details on the DeLorme XMap product pages of our website.

Here are the steps needed to get the GeoGratis Canadian topographic maps on a DeLorme Earthmate PN-series handheld GPS:

  1. Locate the desired map on the GeoGratis website and download it to your computer.
  2. Launch the XMap software and import the GeoGratis Canadian topographic map.
  3. Outline the area that you'd like to have on the Earthmate PN-series receiver.
  4. Upload the maps to the device.
  5. Enjoy!
Here's some additional information about accomplishing these tasks.
Locate the Desired Map on the GeoGratis Website and Download:
You can download the Canadian topographic maps from the GeoGratis website free of charge and they are fully compatible with all current versions of XMap, including XMap Professional. They cover all areas of the country from the U.S. border to north of the Arctic Circle, are incredibly detailed, and are of the highest cartographic quality.
One of the challenges inherent in serving datasets such as this is providing a mechanism for the visitor to easily locate the particular map that they need. To help with this process, XMap users can download an OpenSpace transfer file containing an index grid that shows the geographic area covered by each sheet. Within each grid tile, the name of the individual map sheet is displayed and a hyperlink offers the ability to directly download the map without having to navigate through the GeoGratis site. OpenSpace is a DeLorme XMap file format.
Canada Topo XMap index

Complete instructions for this process are included in the Read Me document that can be downloaded with the OpenSpace transfer file. This text file also provides the URL of the page on the GeoGratis site that describes the relevant copyright and map reproduction policies of Natural Resources Canada. There are two OpenSpace files available, as well as the Read Me document:

The GeoGratis downloads are in .zip files. Once you download the file that contains the maps of interest, unzip them and look for the .tiff map file. You can preview the .tiff file in any graphics program, or the Windows image and fax viewer application.
Import the GeoGratis Canadian topographic map into XMap:
In order to open the GeoGratis Canadian topo map in XMap, you start by selecting the Map Data tab. The next step is to select the Data button, followed by Add. A dialog box opens where you can navigate to the GeoTIFF file that contains your map of interest. Once the file is opened in XMap, you can move around the screen image of Canada to the area where you expect the map to show up, and simply start zooming-in until the map becomes visible. Note that these maps are raster scans of the actual paper map artwork, so the paper map boarder and legend appears as well.
XMap 6 Editor main screen
This sample picture shows the DeLorme XMap 6 GIS Editor interface. However, the DeLorme XMap 6 GIS Professional interface is very similar, with primarily the GIS tab missing. An area around Kingston, Ontario, Canada is shown on the picture.
Select the Area for Export to the PN-20, PN-30, or PN-40:
The Select/Edit button toggles a grid of rectangles. You select a rectangle by cliking on it. Once it is selected, that rectangle becomes part of the map that will be readied for export to the PN-series device. The rectangles are visible only at certain zoom levels, so you might have to zoom in or out to get the optimal level for viewing and selecting the rectangles.
You can select as many rectangles as you wish. However, keep in mind that as the area selected for export increases, so does the resultant map file size. And, what's also important, the time it will take to create the map file and to upload it to the device. If the resultant file size is greater than the available memory space (either internal to the device or in an inserted SD card), the map will not export. Having said that, the PN-30 and PN-40 devices accept up to a 32 GB SD cards, so it would take a really large map to fill-up this amount of memory.
The next step is to compile the map file which will be subsequently exported to the PN device. You need to specifiy a name for the map file (in the Save Your Map for Exchange filed) and select Save to begin the compilation process. As mentioned above, this may take some time for a large map, so please be patient. Once the compilation completes, you are ready for the final step. Here's an example of the grid selection and compile screen.
XMap Kingston Ontario north upload
Upload the Maps to the PN-series Device:
The completed map file can be exported to the PN-20, PN-30, or PN-40 in one of two ways: via direct transfer to the device over the USB interface, or by saving the file on an SD card, which is then inserted into the PN device. For transfers into internal memory, the USB transfer is the only way to go. However, the SD card prices are very low these days, so keeping the maps on the SD card may be the best option. Note that with the original PN-20 device, it is best to export the maps by saving the file directly to the SD card, as the USB transfer is rather slow. Also, the PN-20 will work with a maximum 4 GB SD card, so keep that in mind when working with large map areas.
XMap Map Exchange dialog box
To transfer the map, simply select the file that you created in the previous step and hit Send. If you're exporting a very large map file, even saving it directly to the SD card may take some time.
And that's it in a nutshell. Once the Canadian topographic map that you created is on the PN device, you can select it on the Data Layering and Data Management menus (press the MENU button, then select Map Setup...). Your custom map first must be selected on the Manage Maps menu. Then on the Manage Layers menu, you can move the map to the top of the stack. This will ensure that the map is always visible when you're in the coverage area or when you navigate the screen to it. Note that the map will not be visible at all zoom levels on the PN device, so you'll need to zoom to the optimal level for your use.
Have fun with the Canadian Topographic maps on your PN-20, PN-30, or PN-40 device!

The professional map software products applicable to this white paper and offered by are:

The DeLorme Earthmate GPS PN-series handhelds that accept custom maps generated with the DeLorme XMap software are: