Canada Makes an Appearance

Cartography Series: Because who doesn’t love looking at old maps? This blog series looks at the cartographic development of Canada.

 Il designo del discoperto della Nova Franza by Paolo Forlani (1566)

Finally, something a bit more familiar! Library and Archives Canada notes that this is “one of the first maps to show North America only and to include the name “Canada.”

Paolo Forlani was an cartographer from Venice and thus the map is in Italian. If you look closely you can see some of the names of Canada Pro. (Proper) including La Nova Franza (New France), Terra De Laborador (Labrador), Larcadia (would become Acadia), Stadacone (the future site of Quebec City), and Ochelaga (the future site of Montreal). This map also includes the Apalchen (Appalachian) Mountains. Stadacone or Stadacona was a 16th century Iroquoian village located near present-day Quebec City. Ochelaga or Hochelaga was also a Iroquoian village, however this one was located on Mont Royal in present-day Montreal. These village names were made known to European mapmakers as a result of Jacques Cartier visits to them.

Among other firsts on the map is the Anian Strait between North America and Asia. Meant to represent the Bering Strait, this is an early map that correctly does not connect the two continents. With this is in mind, what I find the most curious is that just a year prior, Forlani published a world map that has some major differences. In his world map, Forlani has Canada and Asia smashed together to form a super continent. No voyages set sail up there at the time to confirm or dispute this, so I wonder what made him change his mind a year later?


Library and Archives Canada, North America, ca. 1566, Ref. No.: NMC 022901 Accessed from:


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