Basemaps provide important context for data on a map and often include topographic features such as roads, elevation contours, water features (e.g. rivers, lakes), and boundaries. The built-in basemap options in your GIS software may work well for you but you can make your own basemap if that is not the case.
We've put together a straightforward way of acquiring data to make a base map of your area of interest in Canada, whether it's a few city blocks, a city, county, or anything in between. The datasets shown are openly available to anyone.
If you want to map an entire Canadian province or territory we recommend using the Index of Geospatial Products from Natural Resources Canada. In the Themes tab, select Vector and then the data of interest (e.g. CanVec Series - Transport Features), then click on the province or territory on the map to obtain direct links to the data. You can also download CanVec Series data for individual provinces/territories or all of Canada using the "Prepackaged" options on the Open Government website if you don't need or want a map-based download interface.
For a compilation of data resources for areas outside of Canada, please consult our Base Layers page.