View Full Version : DEM Data for Canada

April 17th, 2009, 10:41 AM
Hello folks,
Can someone tell me a good source for Canadian DEM Data? I'm looking for the area around Alice Arm in British Columbia but can't seem to find a site offering the data.

Thanks for the help,


April 17th, 2009, 11:06 AM
There is site, I will try to find a link for you. What area are you looking to model ? I have the "Kicking Horse Pass-Spiral Loops" on a flat baseboard using topo maps and basemaps as a guide. I applied a 1.8% grade to it and it looks really prototypical. But it is nowhere near a DEM accuracy, as it is derived from elevation 0.00. Whereas a DEM would be @650.00
Here's one:
To fine pan the map, switch to "Google tab", and drag the screen, then switch back to "Topo tab" to view...to captiure the image, use "MS Snip Tool".
Will look up Alice Arm area

These grids are 1km square, perfect for editing into "basemap" images. Anyone wanting the complete set of topos from South of Field, all the way through the"Loops", to south of Lake Louise, I got em', if you want em'.

Manipulating basemaps is made easier, if you add the line, and temporarilly change your Trainzoptions file to:

April 17th, 2009, 11:48 AM
I'm looking for the area around Alice Arm in British Columbia.
A narrow gauge RR left Alice Arm and traveled north 17 miles to the Dolly Varden Silver Mine.

April 17th, 2009, 12:39 PM
The area about 2 miles north of Alice Arm BC, changes over to low definition topo with only general topo heights showing, no roads, rivers...etc...

Seems that area is way out in the boonies ?

April 17th, 2009, 12:49 PM
This is the official source for Canadian DEMs:

And here you get matching topo maps:
The Toporama product is the easiest to deal with.

April 17th, 2009, 02:10 PM
Hi Rick,

Dolly Varden, damn, you get me interested now! ;)

Bought the book last year or so, been looking into it, but so far, never done more then thinking - and using it as inspiration for something I play around with.

I did another Canadian narrow gauge last year, Coal Creek (look it up in NG&SLG) but lost interest due to hardship learning new TS2009 stuff...
I traced my map from a topomap - don't think I would do Dolly Varden that way, so have fun with TransDEM and the info geophil gave you.
Should you not have TransDEM - which is a lovely program that I just love :) - and need help, write and we can discuss. ;)

Have fun up there in those mountains and hills!

Best wishes as always


April 17th, 2009, 03:31 PM
Hi Linda,

I ordered the book myself. I've been doing as much research as possible while its enroute. Beautiful country and small enough to keep my interest. We'll have to see where it goes : )

Thanks for the tip Phil, I'll need to check out those sites when I get home tonight

April 17th, 2009, 06:59 PM
Hi Rick,

Your lucky, the book is now in reprint - I had to hunt it down used...
Took me about a year to get from one seller that first had it, then had it not, then had it...

Wish he had it not, because suddenly one day, it was out there as a new reprint book, cheaper then my used copy... :-(

Oh well, it is a beautiful book, nice images, lots of "dream away" scenes, but hard (for me at least :)) to model faithful and respectful in Trainz with the vision and knowledge I have.
Still, I have it at my side, wishing to make that sea side ore bin one day - but dread the polygon count...

I remember the articles I seen about the Dolly Varden over the years, and I can understand the fascination with it - don't let Trainz bring that down for you Rick, keep it alive. :)

Remember the minerats - and keep digging. ;) LOL

Best wishes always you know


April 18th, 2009, 02:30 PM
You're right Linda.
I have a really good book on the Colorado Central, Clear Creek District that would make another great route, but Trainz can't do the rocky, rugged terrain justice, and to model Clear creek realisticly would be impossible.

But back to Dolly.... I've downloaded the DEM last night, but when I try to get the elevation Histograms, Microdem kicks me out. I need to play around with it some more tonight.

April 19th, 2009, 04:19 AM
Hi Rick,

If you want, I can try play with in TransDem, no need for Microdem and HOG. ;)


April 19th, 2009, 06:03 AM
That would be great Linda. Thank you!
I'm sure there are folks out there smarter then me that can do it, but I've tried several times and I can't get Micrdem to read the elevations. I guess that's what I get for trying to leave the US without a passport...LOL

April 19th, 2009, 11:59 AM
TransDEM can definitely read them. MicroDEM should also be able to open the Canadian DEMs, however, even if the file type is .dem, this is not the MicroDEM .dem format.

April 19th, 2009, 04:39 PM
Thanks for that Phil. I tryed geotiff and bil. Bil will open but Microdem locks up when attempted to read the Histograms.
I've had several emails back and forth with Linda and she gathering the info she needs to give it a shot.

April 19th, 2009, 07:57 PM
G'day rick1958,

Throughout all of the discussion above, I find it most surprising that nobody (especially you, Phil), has mentioned anything about the S. R. T. M. DEM data. The appropriate tile for the area you are looking for rick, is N56W129,
which can be obtained here..


...which is a *.zip file that can be directly read by MicroDEM or you can unzip it to it's native *.hgt format first...

Jerker {:)}

April 20th, 2009, 03:19 AM
I find it most surprising that nobody (especially you, Phil), has mentioned anything about the S. R. T. M. DEM data.


you are correct, I did not mention the NASA source but I did so by intention. SRTM for Canada is 3 arc sec - just like everywhere else outside the US - while Canadian government DEMs are 0.75 arc sec for many parts of the country. The decision is easy. :)

And with TransDEM processing is almost as easy - the major difference is that you have to unpack the zip yourself.

BTW and off-topic for DEMs: I am preparing a "transparent margins" polygon mask for georeferencing map sheets. Canadian topo maps as offered by the GeoGratis site will benefit from that.

Thanks for that Phil. I tryed geotiff and bil. Bil will open but Microdem locks up when attempted to read the Histograms.
I've had several emails back and forth with Linda and she gathering the info she needs to give it a shot.


are you sure you downloaded from GeoBase Canada? Unless I am missing something their data is CDED .dem format only. BIL and geotiff sound like USGS Seamless Server.

April 20th, 2009, 04:09 AM

I have got both some topomaps (of course, I needed 4 topomaps as the area in question more or less went along the borders of those maps.. :)) and a large DEM area that covers more then the needed area - all from the two links given above by geophil. :)

Of course, by using the maps as downloaded separated and referenced, I've managed to get some borders of the map info I need to remove - but the basic setup is now done.
Been scratching my head how to crop down the large DEM file though, been a while since I played with TransDEM and the button to crop DEM with (as I remember it was used, and read out of the help file) don't seem to agree with the way I want it to behave.
The DEM file stay the same size...

But, I will figure it out, always good to exercise the head a little. LOL

With no railroad there today, it will be a little tricky to figure out exactly what to bring into Trainz, but that is also a minor thing, as I have the book to compare with.

Still aiming for the time frame I gave Rick. :)

Best wishes


April 20th, 2009, 04:14 AM

drag the rectangular mask to encompass the part of the DEM you wish to retain (easiest with the raster maps loaded). Click on the scissors tool and click on the DEM outside the rectangular mask. Erase DEM points. Save DEM under a new name.

April 20th, 2009, 06:09 AM

are you sure you downloaded from GeoBase Canada? Unless I am missing something their data is CDED .dem format only. BIL and geotiff sound like USGS Seamless Server.
Sorry for the miscommunication Phil. I went to the Canadian Site but I couldn't seem to find my way around, so I went back to my faithful friend, the USGS Seamless Server. Late last night I finally got the DEM to work from the Seamless site, but as you indicated to Jerker, it's only available in 3 arc, and the result was a horrible DEM. The mountains are so high and close, the whole thing just blended together. Better then no DEM at all, I guess, but I'm holding out to see Linda's results.

Jerker: Thanks for the help, but you can see from my response to Phil, your site gave less then favorable results, but it did work.

Linda, I'm just glad this gave you the kick in the pants you needed to start posting again...LOL It's good to have you back, now we just need to keep you here. Hmmm... about those ore bins...LOL

April 20th, 2009, 09:54 AM
G'day Rick1958,

You wrote...

...but as you indicated to Jerker, it's only available in 3 arc, and the result was a horrible DEM......and I don't understand how you can say that. All the DEM files I have ever obtained from the NASA site have been impeccable (and there are hundreds of others here who will agree with me). I do not know what your copy of MicroDEM has done to the NASA file but here's an image taken with my preferred option to MicroDEM (that being Global Mapper) of the very same tile of which you speak from the download link I have provided above (loaded directly from the internet)...


...which clearly looks fine by my reckoning, although there are (rather unusually) a few 'holes' visible in the data (indicated by the white areas)...

Jerker {:)}

April 20th, 2009, 01:00 PM

Thank you geophil!

That did the trick, boy, I must be getting old. :( :)


April 20th, 2009, 01:06 PM
Hi Rick,

Aha, so that was the reason why you posted this tread in the first place, a way to lure me back in here... ;)
How could I not see that. LOL

I'm one step away from looking at this in Trainz now, to see how bad or good it is looking there.

I been trying to color in the river on the B&W maps, and I colored the dotted line that I think is the old roadbed - to help better find it again in all the blackness.

Other then that, it is a massive large area so far, but will get cropped down I guess for Trainz use when I enter the Trainz face of this exercise.
It been fun, and as soon as my mind got the kick it needed from Phil above here, it made the whole file even better manageable.

Now, to keep me here, now that I know the plan, I guess it will be harder to achieve. LOL

Best wishes


April 20th, 2009, 05:19 PM

I'm still here, damn, how did that happen... :)

I've now been inside of Trainz, being the crazy person I am, the map is a little big...
Very hard for me to chop it down, I love mountains and valleys - and I envision a whole heap of mining up there so I couldn't just chop it to pieces...

Rick, I'm uploading it to the same place you gave me the logging from - being a 44mb zip file it takes a while...

I need to refresh my self with TransDEM and the whole DEM stuff I see, as I was not able to match the imported geo-referenced map to the DEM when comparing the topo lines on the map with a generated 100ft apart topo lines on the DEM - and visually they also looked apart.
I shifted the DEM by eye and trial, but need to figure out why it happens.

I've used the map to paint the ground - I got lost in the map otherwise.
I tried to make the map appear on squares under the ground, but I was asking TransDEM to make to many I guess, as I got none... LOL

I will email you Rick when it is uploaded, and we can take it from there.

Ok, in case your visit forum before my email is written, file is uploaded...

Next, prepare some screenshots for this thread - will be back. :)


April 20th, 2009, 06:03 PM
Hello all,

Here is a shot from Alice Arm, not much to brag about, but at least you see some ground that is not flat. :)

I extended the view to about 6km with TrainzTuner - and as you see, you need even more view distance and powerful computer to really make the landscape justice.

http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_530_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_530.jpg)
Click image for a 1280x1024 version of it.

Then, some more images, along the route upstream north:

http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_531_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_531.jpg) http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_532_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_532.jpg)
Click image for a 1280x1024 version of it.

http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_533_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_533.jpg) http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_534_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_534.jpg)
Click image for a 1280x1024 version of it.

http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_535_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_535.jpg) http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_536_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_536.jpg)
Click image for a 1280x1024 version of it.

http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_537_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_537.jpg) http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_538_sml.jpg (http://www.cripplecreekrailroads.com/trainz/screenshots/dollyvarden/screen_538.jpg)
Click image for a 1280x1024 version of it.

Now, I hope this was of some use, for somebody.

I haven't done any editing of the DEM other then the TransDEM resampling to 10m.

Hope it helps Rick

Best wishes


April 20th, 2009, 08:20 PM
Hi Linda,
That looks great! I've read some of the posts about TransDem, but it looks way to deep for my shallow mind...LOL
Since there are no tiger lines for Canada, this will definitely be much better then the blank boards produced by MicroDem, Not to mention it appears the elevation steps given with the 3 arc data does't exist with TransDem.
Very nice indeed, thank you.