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Canadian digital charts available online at no charge

Authored by Marilyn Kinsey
May 8, 2022

I was delighted to recently read in PassageMaker magazine that Canada now has digital charts available online, at no charge.  See the links below. 

I was not able to access and download any of the charts for the North Channel, Lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and/or Ontario, due to the lack of information to guide me through the website.

Is there a member who would be willing to share an outline of how to navigate the Canadian website?

Thanks, Marilyn Kinsey    Great Lakes


For those that use a software package capable of reading them, such as OpenCPN, o-charts offers the complete Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Canadian charts for 30USD.  This is an annual subscription.

They are distributed under a CHS liscense, and are secure ENC format.


My understanding from the Canadian Hydrographic Services (CHS) website is that while some of their nautical publications are now available in digital format free of charge, this does NOT apply to nautical charts.

Publications include: Sailing Directions, Tide and Current Tables, etc (list

To purchase official digital versions of official CHS charts, you must register with and access the CHS Digital Portal at

The User Guide for this portal is available here:

Also on CHS Website under frequently asked questions:

"Am I required by law to carry Canadian Hydrographic Service nautical charts and publications on board my vessel?

Answer: Yes. Carriage requirements and application are provided for in Division 6 of the Navigation Safety Regulations, 2020, made under the authority of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, administered and enforced by Transport Canada."

For further information please take a moment to read about our legal framework."


It appears to me that these are the only free charts available and can be opened in my chart program but provide essentially no useful information.  I guess either the web site hasn't been updated to reflect wider availability for free or the Canadians are not really giving up a large source of revenue.  The prices are so steep that the only reasonable source for boaters is plotter collections or chart books.