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 Post subject: About Jeff's Maps....
PostPosted: September 23rd, 2017, 7:13 pm 
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Joined: August 28th, 2004, 5:26 pm
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Location: n/e ontario
I like Jeff’s Maps. They are a wonderful planning resource. However, users need to take into account that the information is gathered from many sources, including from folks who may not know that a campsite works best if it has at least one flat spot to pitch a tent. When we use Jeff’s map to plan a trip in an unfamiliar area, we keep this in mind. I would not want to bet my only chance at getting a good night’s rest on it.

The portages are another item of concern. Jeff put the Temagami maps online in 2014. Since I live within the area of the Southwestern Map, I checked it out right away. Understandably, there were small errors. To do my bit in helping out with the Creative Commons reliability, I sent a detailed note to Jeff with the local fixes. Sadly, three years later even the online map has not been updated.

A big problem for lots of folks travelling in the Chiniguchi River area is the portage between Gold and Colin-Scott Lakes. In the fall of 2014, I wrote to Jeff. “Gold Lake to Colin Scott portage is actually the next bay to the east, around that little point. A creek is shown here, but it is not a creek, it is the portage. There is evidence that people have used the incorrect portage, bushwhacking through rough terrain.” I referenced Ottertooth.com[url][/url] to see the correct mapping.

We often travel this route, and have tried to steer paddlers in the right direction. Someone flags the wrong bay, and we take the flagging tape down. We put rock cairns trying to lead the correct way. This summer, someone worked very hard trying to make the wrong portage passible. Several people we’re run into have talked about how horrible the portage is. Some had serious trouble getting the canoe down the ‘cliff’. So we went to have a look.

Yikes! Jeff’s wrong portage is now a well packed, well-marked path over extremely rough terrain. It even had an official yellow portage marker on it! Again, we removed the flagging tape, removed the portage sign, and made bigger cairns, now with an arrow on the little point, pointing away from the wrong bay. We put logs over the path and posted little signs directing them “Go one bay east…Jeff’s map is wrong!” I hope it works. People don’t need to traverse such obstacles when a fine route exists nearby.

We often meet people in the wilds who are traveling without topographic maps (which also have errors…). They have only Jeff’s map, or a printout of the Ottertooth Map, or worse yet, a photocopy of the maps in one of Kevin Callan’s books! All of these references are great for planning…but not in isolation.

I still like Jeff’s Maps. All sorts of information is presented. The side notes are especially interesting. I just keep in mind that there could be issues. And just because the map says a portage or campsite exists, it is worth looking around if the reality of the land speaks differently.


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2017, 10:33 pm 
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red pine wrote:
We often meet people in the wilds who are traveling without topographic maps (which also have errors…). They have only Jeff’s map, or a printout of the Ottertooth Map, or worse yet, a photocopy of the maps in one of Kevin Callan’s books! All of these references are great for planning…but not in isolation.
Very true so, though I found Ottertooth maps to be as perfect as humanly possible. They are quite fit for field use in Temagami with occasional check against a topo. Regarding Gold lake portages on Jeff's map: the one towards McCarthy bay is also misplaced (correct portages shown in red on the pic bellow). Unfortunately Jeff has never updated his first draft of Temagami map and now it looks like it became the final draft as well.


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2017, 11:45 pm 
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As you may or may not know, in November Jeff had a falling out with his business partners and broke from the company. Jeffsmap continues to exist as an entity but without Jeff himself. As such I imagine there will be no further fieldwork and no updates to any of the existing maps. They're still selling their stock, and since the departure they've released two additional maps in hard copy only -- one for the French River I think, which Jeff had done most of the work on before he left, and one for the Frost Centre, which is really mapping that was already done as part of the Algonquin map (they basically just blew it up and added some details do the campsite labelling).

Jeff's Algonquin map, which underwent 5 iterations and lots of ground-truthing, is something I regard as very accurate and the best map for the park. The Temagami map, which was a first attempt, is definitely something more imperfect. Unfortunately it is not going to be improved as originally intended.


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PostPosted: September 24th, 2017, 7:14 pm 
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Believe me, we couldn’t be more on the same page.

I got into making canoeing maps 11 years ago because I was fed up with the errors in the MNR’s Algonquin map and they seemed uninterested in fixing them. I had no intention or interest in making a business out of it. I was only 17 at the time and just wanted a better map for myself.

Things grew from there obviously, but the one thing that never changed was my unrelenting desire to make the most accurate maps possible. Period.

As I always told people, as far as I knew the maps were perfect on day one when they went to print, and then it was downhill from there. But I’d solicit as much feedback as possible, do as much new research as possible, and then rinse and repeat. It was a formula that worked fantastically for Algonquin and Killarney. Of course, the key is the ‘rinse and repeat’ part - and that’s what never happened with the Temagami maps :(

As Dan mentioned, I left Jeff’s Map last November as the result of a dispute with my ex-business partner. It’d been my intention to update the maps earlier than that, but things went downhill a while before then so I never got a chance to get too far on doing that (November was just when it was clear I could no longer stick around).

It was never my intention for any of the maps to be unrevised for this long.

It’s extremely depressing to have my name plastered all over something that I’m no longer proud of. I’ve asked for my name to be removed to make it clear that I don’t endorse the maps, but my request has been met with silence.

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PostPosted: September 24th, 2017, 10:59 pm 
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Location: Marathon/Superior
Jeff, can't let your self-deprecation go unanswered. Your maps are brilliant, cartographically inspirational, and providing them free online was an incredible act of kindness. Backcountry campers in Ontario have benefited immensely from them. They have facilitated dozens of trips for me that I otherwise wouldn't have had the information and therefore confidence to attempt. Besides, much larger and more well-funded organizations have errors in their maps too.

Learning now that I've done the wrong portage into Colin Scott three times over that "cliff" does make me a bit cross-eyed, but for Pete's sake, that's just the thrill of adventure. The reality is that a static map and one person cannot keep up with the volume of information that exists for the multitude of backcountry camping routes in Ontario.

I'm a GIS'er and I've got a rough plan to create an online, printer-friendly Backcountry Camper's Atlas (hopefully over this winter) which would involve a number of authorized/trusted contributors adding to the map with their GPS tracks, campsites, annotations, etc. Current plan is to use the Google JavaScript API. This could never match your maps' Adobe aesthetics, but would facilitate real-time updates and allow for the collective knowledge of many paddlers to be combined in one place without the bottleneck of one person having to process all of the additions. And the interactivity of a web-based product would allow users to submit feedback on the data (e.g. a user could submit a comment on the portage that says that the Colin Scott portage is actually over yonder). There are so many Google MyMaps, old static maps, scanned maps, trip reports, and "napkin sketches" out there---not to mention SO many routes that are known but which do not have a proper map yet. My goal is to consolidate them into this one atlas.

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PostPosted: September 25th, 2017, 7:45 am 
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Joined: December 21st, 2016, 2:10 pm
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Location: Courtice Ont
Have to pipe in ... Jeff's maps are brilliant (although I've never used the Temagami one). I just got back from another solo trip with my dog through APP. I shoot video of my trips and post them (everyone loves watching the dog lol). I have one part where I state that I have no problem going anywhere in Algonquin with only Jeffs Map. And when your solo the less screw ups the better.

Jeffs work will be sorely missed.


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PostPosted: September 25th, 2017, 9:43 am 
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Oh for sure. The Algonquin one was more accurate than anything else out there, bar none. That I can say with confidence. I could spend a couple of hours pointing out all the mistakes on other maps.

I did have a list of fixes before I left, but they were more things that’d changed rather than things I’d gotten wrong from the start (which also means there are a lot fewer of them still). 7 revisions made sure of that :).

The problem is purely the Temagami one. It never got even a second revision and that meant that the things that were flat out wrong from the start never got fixed.

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PostPosted: September 25th, 2017, 9:55 am 
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Jonathan Kelly - I was thinking we need exactly something like this. Basically a crowd-sourced real time version of Jeff's Maps.

Please keep us posted.


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PostPosted: September 28th, 2017, 12:07 pm 
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I would like to see @JeffreyM start a new map company (suggested name: Maps by Jeffery) so that the paddling community once again has access to the best canoe maps out there!!!


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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 11:30 am 
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Prospector16 and NorseScotsman stated an interesting idea. Jeffrey would need to chime in on this but does this idea have legs?

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PostPosted: September 30th, 2017, 1:55 pm 
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Hmm... the way I read it, Prospector16 (or really Jonathan Kelly) stated one idea and NorseScotsman stated another one. And yes, NorseScotsman's is for Jeffrey to chime in on (or reveal at some time in the future). But Jonathan Kelly's not really. I don't agree that that would be "a crowd-sourced real time version of Jeff's Maps". It would be a crowd-sourced real time map, in its own right. Something very different from, not really better or worse or comparable to, jeffsmap. Yes Jeff encouraged public input, but the maps were ultimately the product of their sole maker, and Jeff took exclusive responsibility for their aesthetics and accuracy. From Jeff we got detailed maps of a few specific places with a thorough, unique and consistent system of symbolism. What Jonathan Kelly is suggesting would be more dynamic and far more extensive, but less intensive, maps of user-submitted routes. Not nearly the detail or completeness of any one area but a broad repository of routes with just enough information to plan and navigate a trip. I certainly hope it goes forward.


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2017, 5:29 pm 
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@NorseScotsman @Open_water @Dan M

Since last year I've been kind of at a loss with respect to what I want to do next. At first I didn't even want to think about making maps whatsoever after what happened at Jeff's Map. It was pretty traumatizing to have worked so long and so hard on those maps and to lose them like that.

Later I pondered making other non-canoeing maps like some people had suggested given that I have the skill set. But for me it's canoeing that made me want to make canoeing maps – not a general interest in mapping that I applied to making canoeing maps. So I never pursued that.

The end result has been during the last year I've kind of just been coasting along. I've been learning some new skills (namely some programming) but with no particular end game in mind for them.

A year in I have been thinking a bit more about what it might be like to start again from scratch. There are a few issues though.

The first is just finding the willpower to do it. I put uncountable numbers of hours into the maps. I'd guess something well above 10,000. And while I wouldn't need to put in quite that number if I started again, it's still incredibly daunting – and that's just the maps. Then there's the business side of things that'd need to be built up again. A network of retail stores, marketing, a website, etc. That adds up to a ton of work before I could even put out any 'Maps by Jeff'. Probably several years.

I was really lucky with the way that things came together organically before. I started when I was 17, just for the fun of it and because I wanted a better map for myself. At first I didn't want to make any print maps because it'd be so much work, but people kept telling me that they needed them if the map was going to come with them on trips. So I started doing an Algonquin map book, which required little financial commitment, but was only really something I could do online – that was okay though because I wasn't really trying to build a business out of the maps. This meant that I had years and years to develop and improve the Algonquin map with almost no financial pressure. When I started Jeff's Map with my now ex-business partner, I had a map all ready to go after I'd spent all that time perfecting it.

Fast forward to now and that model wouldn't really work. I'm 28 (almost 29) now, so there's a lot more financial pressure. While I make the maps because I enjoy making them, this means that they also need to pay the bills. And as a result of what went down as Jeff's Map, while I'm owed a ton of money, I don't have very much savings-wise. I'm also steadfast on not willing to put less time into them (look at the kinds of errors that cropped up with Temagami despite my best efforts and the time I put in, and why bother if you're not going to make the best maps possible,) so that puts me in a bit of a pickle.

On top of that, manufacturing maps is reallllly expensive. Well into the tens of thousands of dollars to print a handful of different maps. You could produce fewer, but as you produce fewer, the cost per unit goes up, and it's hard to build a sustainable business on less than that.

There's always the digital angle (no manufacturing costs, yay!) but I think that in the short term there are some limitations that make physical maps useful, at least for people taking longer trips (which was my main audience).

A friend of mine who I'd paid to help me with some of the more boring aspects of making the map (tracing things, placing labels, etc) is actually in the process of making some canoeing maps of his own which look really, really cool from what little I've seen. He's offered me a position with him several times, but while that'd help with some of the aforementioned problems (time and money), after what happened with Jeff's Map I don't think I'd be up for having a business partner again, so I declined.

Ultimately, if I get back into making maps, it might just be best to start it out as a hobby again and let it turn into what it turns into. Maybe I can leverage some of my newfound programming skills to make something cool as technology improves over the next few years. We'll see!

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2017, 7:29 am 
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@JeffreyM, thanks for taking the time to respond. I knew my wish for you to start a new map company was wishful thinking, but I wanted to let you know that there is definitely a demand out there if you eventually choose to get back into the map business.

Good luck and best wishes in your new endeavours!


Last edited by NorseScotsman on October 2nd, 2017, 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2017, 10:17 am 
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Just a note - if you had an online only company people could still get them printed on their own. World of Maps here in Ottawa does that for a pretty reasonable fee. So you could concentrate on what you love at very little cost and people could still get hard copies.


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2017, 10:46 am 
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JeffreyM your Algonquin map was directly responsible for me and many other to get out and enjoy Algonquin.
I want to thank you for that.
whatever you decide to do in the future I'm sure you will have the support of many people.

It's a real loss to the canoeing community to see you go. so I would suggest you stay. :D


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