Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm totally new to QGIS, and trying to view a Canadian Topo map as published on an iMac - I don't want to change it.

  1. the directory contains a lot of files - can all be loaded in one go so I get the whole map, not just pieces of it?
  2. the CanVec attributes (colour, symbol etc.) aren't retrieved when loading a shape file with vector load, so that doesn't work to see it the way the map maker intended.

I suspect these problems are related, in that there's a file somewhere that lets QGIS tie everything together, but I can't figure out what it is or how to tell QGIS how to use it.

share|improve this question
@johnsankey: you have two logins; see – Mike T Mar 7 '13 at 3:35
  1. The shapefiles could all be loaded in one operation, but will you need all of them for your project?

  2. As the name suggests, shapefiles contain shapes; points, lines or polygons. It's up to you, the map maker, to decide what "style" you wish to apply to the shapes. The manual will tell you how to do this.

The meaning of the shapefile names in your dataset is shown in this Excel file.

If you are an absolute beginner it would be a good idea to work through the example project shown in the manual.

Good luck.

share|improve this answer

I've now heard from the Canada Centre for Topographic Information - there is no 'context' file for the CanVec maps other than one for the version of ArcGIS used internally at CCTIC. If I'm to use the CanVec data, I will indeed have to render it myself and just imitate the published maps as best I can.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.