Canada is vast and collecting any geographic data must be a monumental task. Natural Resources Canada provides a free access to a comprehensive Canada-wide topographic data now refereed to as CanVec (Canada Vector) data. I often download and use CanVec datasets which are updated on yearly basis (current version 12 soon to be version 13) but I am curious how current thi data really is, namely hydrology.

How is this data captured and collected and how frequently are features such as waterbodies, wetlands updated? I suspect image analysis using multispectral imagery but clearly some manual work is needed to enforce hydrological correctness. Is is even possible such data can be up to date?

  • Interesting question. When you download those files is there any metadata attached? I would even try contacting the dept and asking!
    – GISHuman
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 15:15
  • Why dont you ask to NRC here Commented May 10, 2014 at 14:15
  • 2
    and the answer was? Commented May 12, 2014 at 16:09
  • Also, might be important to mention that CanVec is deprecated in favor of CanVec+
    – SaultDon
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 15:26

1 Answer 1


The documentation (http://wmsmir.cits.rncan.gc.ca/index.html/pub/canvec/doc/CanVec_en_Specifications.pdf) states that:

The static CanVec product is published at least once a year or when data significant changes occur. Each new publication includes updates gathered since the previous release.


It originates from the best available data sources covering Canadian territory, offers quality topographical information in vector format and complies with international geomatics standards.

The updates occur when the providers provide new/updated information, or according to new work by NRCAN / CCMEO, which depends on governement policy/priorities.

There is a key note:

Topographic features coming from the NTDB are not up to date. These features are included in the CanVec product for cartographic reference purpose only.

  • CanVec+ also sources existing datasets from the Provinces like in BC where the Fresh Water Atlas is a possible data source, which in turn gets some of its data from TRIM.
    – SaultDon
    Commented Aug 9, 2016 at 15:29

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