I need detailed Bathymetric data covering water bodies (including smaller ones) in the Province of Ontario. Our Provincial Government has it, but the use of the data are restricted due to liability issues. Does anyone know place to download this data, or can anyone suggest a way to interpolate lake depth contours (ie - would it be feasible to get a Google Earth Pro licence for this)? I have access to 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst.

  • @ Andre - thanks for the suggestion (+1). At a glance, it looks as though the data are specific to Lake Ontario & larger water bodies. I am awaiting a call from the Canadian Hydrographic Society (as we speak) and hoping they have the data readily available. Thanks for taking the time to post your suggestion, and I will take a closer look at the link you sent later and let you know.
    – Dano
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 19:45
  • I'm checking with a friend in Toronto who got some lake data for a project. There were some hoops to jump through, but he did get all he needed.
    – scruss
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 21:30
  • Thanks @ scruss. I'm guessing he got his data from the Ministry of Natural Resources (they won't give or sell it to me). Keep me posted. Hopefully your friend has a solution.
    – Dano
    Commented Aug 26, 2013 at 23:37
  • 1
    I think @scruss has answered this question and that the question should not be then morphed off into other directions. My recommendation is to edit those new directions out into new questions.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 12:33
  • I agree with @PolyGeo: the question has completely changed, rendering earlier answers either irrelevant or comprehensible. Dano, please post your edits as a new question. (I have rolled it back to the original question.)
    – whuber
    Commented Sep 18, 2013 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


Canadian Hydrographic Service may be your only choice, I'm afraid. LIO is supposed to have line and point bathymetry data, but their login and search tools are going off into hyperspace for me right now.

My friend was lucky in that the lakes he was interested in had just had a very detailed survey in advance of the G8, and CHS (apparently) don't maintain commercial charts of the lakes.

It sounds like CHS is interested in opening up access to its data (see: Hydrographic Products and Services Program Evaluation Report), but they're not there yet.

  • Thanks and +1 - LIO won't give (or sell) me the data. You have to work for the government or have special permission levels to access it.
    – Dano
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 22:59
  • I don't think any official government data beyond exist for Ontario beyond what's available at the CHS link above. Can you post a link to the LIO metadata description for this dataset? Unfortunately all the charts I've order before were only available as paper maps so you might have to scan and digitize them. I've seen fishing bathymetry maps for selected smaller lakes but those were private efforts. What I have done in the past was to hook up a sonar to a gps and sent a crew out to a lake to collect data on a predetermined grid - worked better then expected. Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 19:46
  • Land Information Ontario Data Description Bathymetry, Line [pdf]
    – scruss
    Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 23:59
  • @ scruss - when I hit the link, it said "document only available to internal users". I couldn't access it. I have some government contacts I'm hoping will come through for me on this. Suggestions still welcome -- but the data must be available for commercial use or I will get sued using it.
    – Dano
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 11:07
  • You can get to the document, but not the data, via a google search for “LIO bathymetry”.
    – scruss
    Commented Aug 31, 2013 at 11:21

I called LIO to see what's going on with this. I also would like bathymetry for lakes surrounding our exploration project. I noticed that an Index of lakes for which bathymetry data exists is publicly available (https://www.appliometadata.lrc.gov.on.ca:/geonetwork?uuid=a4126540-367e-4e30-8008-cf2e3919fcdf) ...says right there in the description of this particular class that it's available but like you I did not see it in the list of layers available for download.

Turns out a few things are going on; the overhauling of the existing spatial data portal is VERY VERY much behind schedule. The completion date is constantly being pushed back so the state of the current data portal remains unchanged as of April 2012. Normally, various data classes are made and un-made available over time so even if the BATHYIDX become availalbe to public it would not show up on the existing "unplugged, legacy" system. Also, Many MNR staff were recently fired and internal restructuring is under way - this might also have some impact on data availability. Just checked, YEP, the BATHYIDX is dated 2013-01-02.

The person I spoke with confirmed that the index is in fact available and they can e-mail it upon request. The TRICKY part is - even if you find the bathymetry data you want that data is in fact tagged Restricted! Even the MNR person confirmed it does not make much sense telling the public it's there but you cant have it. (Sigh) I mean the index - the means of searching the data is unrestricted but the data is restricted... "rolling my eyes"

Fortunately, the MNR person on the other end seemed knowledgeable about this and other datasets so she was able to tell me that the reason why it is restricted is because it is OUTDATED. Apparently, a number of individuals in the past who obtained this data, uploaded it to their GPS units, went fishing and I guess..... crashed. "Thanks guys, that's a super high tech data validation method!" The data have mostly been digitized from old paper maps and are therefore unsuitable for navigational purposes so the MNR locked it up by making it restricted. (no doubt after a couple of phone calls from very wet fishermen) I was told that some of this data is still available on the MNR FishONline website (http://www.web2.mnr.gov.on.ca/fish_online/fishing/fishingExplorer_en.html) but i have not had much luck navigating around the outdated layout.

It seems that I might be able to get the data after all if I promise (likely some legal signed agreement) not to use the data for navigational purposes. When I inquired about it the MNR person didn't say I won't be able to purchase the data, rather she said that there might be a way but wasn't 100% sure.

Hope this helps.

Update - someone from the MNR called me to talk about the data - they can sell the data on a case by case basis. You have to make a case tho the MNR and provide detail information on how you are planning to use the data. This is then reviewed by a panel and you will be either allowed to purchase or denied. If you are allowed to purchase, the data will only be available for research purposes only with the understanding that it will not be (in whole or part) made publicly available. You will not be able to use the data in maps that can be seen outside the scope of your project - no publications, open houses, etc. You won't be able to quote or reference the data used and product derived from this data cannot be used for any other purposes other then those defined by the scope of your project.

I think it's time to hook up your garmin with your fish-finder and collect your own...

  • Thanks Jakub & +1 - Currently, we are doing things the hard way (click, click, click). I am awaiting some information from an old boss/client who may have an unsupervised raster to vector conversion method for me to try. If we have success, I will share the process with the community as an answer. Even if this does work, the data we are capturing from the paper maps is EXTREMELY old (as you said). I appreciate your efforts.
    – Dano
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 4:20
  • p.s - Thanks for that bottom link in your answer (FishONline). I'm not having too much luck navigating around either, but I will certainly be looking at the site in greater depth when time permits.
    – Dano
    Commented Sep 4, 2013 at 4:31
  • @ Jakub - I have access to the data through a regional MNR map distributor (no more digitizing) .... however, it can not be distributed to anyone else as a digital product. If you can find one in your community, you may be able to make the same arrangement or purchase the data.
    – Dano
    Commented Sep 7, 2013 at 1:04

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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