Algonquin Outfitters

Interview with Jeffrey McMurtrie of Jeff’s Map

Jeffrey McMurtrieJeffrey McMurtrie lives in Toronto and first visited Algonquin when he was eight. He fell in love with it and ever since then, he has been back numerous times (and spent over 500 days) to create his own highly detailed map of the park. Trail Swag sat down with Jeffrey to find out more about his map which he has been working on since August 2006…


Trail Swag: What was the process to create the map?
Jeffrey: This map is the combination of every piece of information I have ever found. I started with an original .PDF map of Algonquin from the Friends of Algonquin Park. With that template, I didn’t have to worry about the basics such as lakes, and creeks. Then I would start going through books, trip reports, e-mails and start making tweaks. It wasn’t a linear process. Through numerous additions, it added up to the map that is in stores today.


Trail Swag: How did you choose how many maps to make?
Jeffrey: Oh no, it wasn’t very difficult at all. The first choice was deciding how zoomed-in to make the map (which determines how easy it is to read), and how many sections to create. Once I decided that, I created the boundaries and kept moving everything around so that nothing got cut off (which was very time consuming).


There are routes that people just naturally take and I try my best to cover as many on one sheet as possible. Take the West, South and Central area for example. Right in the centre is Canoe Lake. Where might someone be going if they want to go to Canoe Lake? I have to look at every access point, which means a million different combinations, but I want to cover as many as possible. The South one is easy, because naturally I can cover everything in one go. I find the West and Central the most difficult. In some ways the Eastern is relatively easy because there are less canoe routes over there and only one main 4KM portage that connects you to the rest of the park.


The difficulty with the Western and Central sections is that if you’re starting in the West, you’re most likely heading East (vs North/South) so I have to make the decision on how much to show on that map (and how much can I overlap on the Central map?).


Trail Swag: Do you still have version 1 of Jeff’s Map?
Jeffrey: Yup, it’s still lying around.


Trail Swag: I find it neat that in today’s digital world, a physical map still holds so much value.
Jeffrey: It’s funny because the techniques I’ve used on the map are things I couldn’t have done without technology. For example, on this version and previous the applications weren’t 64-bit aware, which allow for greater memory use. I could maybe work on the map for about 40 minutes before I had to save and quit, or else it would just crash. When I would export it, I would have to export it in different chunks and combine them later. Luckily now, I no-longer have to do that. It’s really pushing what a computer can do due to the complexity of it.


The map as a whole is made up of 17 million points. A lake may have say 1,000 points which looks like a nice curve when you are zoomed out. It really is pushing technology.


Trail Swag: That’s kind of funny because you probably do computer upgrades based on this
Jeffrey: There is no question that the amount of work I could do is totally dictated by how fast the computer is.


Read the full interview by guest blogger Evan Holt at Trail Swag, an Ontario Outdoors blog (Twitter: @trailswag).

TrailSwagLogo Evan Holt

Trail Swag

Evan Holt: ​Had been dreaming up the idea for Trail Swag for years and has enjoyed every minute of it since the website went live in December 2011. Enjoys Camping, Hiking, Mountain Biking, Trail Running and Canoeing.

Algonquin Park Map
Jeff’s Map is available at Algonquin Outfitters and can be viewed online.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *