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


Samuel de Champlain’s Carte geographique de la Nouvelle Franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain Saint Tongois cappitaine ordinaire pour le Roy en la Marine (1612).

Before he was the “Father of New France,” Samuel de Champlain was a cartographer who produced a number of maps on New France, based off of his exploration of the area from 1603 onwards. On his first trip to North America, he was merely an observer on a fur-trading expedition led by François Gravé Du Pont. By the time the above map was made, Champlain had already founded Quebec City (in 1608) and had travelled almost 1,500 kilometres along the Atlantic coast from Maine as far as southernmost Cape Cod.

Upon returning to Paris in 1612, Champlain had the above map of New France engraved. It details New France (the St. Lawrence River region from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes), as well as the New England coastline. Given his extensive exploration and time within the region, Champlain’s map contained brand new geographical insight for the time. As such, he defined the basic geography of the area for much of the seventeenth century. Alongside scenes of aboriginal life, Champlain included a number of regional plants and animals. By showcasing the diversity and richness of New France’s natural resources, these images were intended to attract potential investors and settlers. Not only did it give people back home in France a better idea of what New France was like, but the map exemplifies a blend between art and science; a trend in European cartography of the 1600s.

For those interested, here is a smaller, but colored in version of Champlain’s map.


Sources:

Murray, Jeffrey, “Looking at Old Maps: The World Through the Eyes of Early Mapmakers,” Library and Archives Canada. Accessed from: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/education/008-3070-e.html

Osher Map Library, “Samuel de Champlain and New France,” University of Southern Maine. Accessed from: http://www.oshermaps.org/exhibitions/creation-of-new-england/ii-samuel-de-champlain-and-new-france

“Samuel de Champlain’s General Maps of New France,” Library and Archives Canada Blog. Accessed from: http://thediscoverblog.com/2013/10/17/samuel-de-champlains-general-maps-of-new-france/ (If you are interested, there are some more of Champlain’s maps in this post!)

“The Explorers: Samuel de Champlain,” Virtual Museum of New France. Accessed from: http://www.historymuseum.ca/virtual-museum-of-new-france/the-explorers/samuel-de-champlain-1604-1616/

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