New Scotland?!

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

Bay of Fundy and Harbour of Annapolis Royal (as observed by Nathaniel Blackmore in 1711-1712) by Herman Moll (1732). [Source] Please click on the image for a bigger/better resolution.

The first half of the 18th century was a crazy time for Nova Scotia. Technically the trouble started in the previous century; from 1688 to 1763 Nova Scotia underwent six wars! However, given that the above map depicts the future province around the time of 1711-1712, we are going to take a closer look at the major changes that were underway at that time brought, as well as the man behind the map.

To briefly recap this area’s history, the Mi’kmaq lived in Nova Scotia long before the French showed up; Samuel de Champlain and Pierre Du Gua de Monts established Port-Royal in 1605. This marked the start of the French colony of Acadia. The British showed up a bit later. Even though the Mi’kmaq and the French were already there, King James I of England granted the land to the Scottish colonizer Sir William Alexander and named the land New Scotland, (the name ‘Nova Scotia’ comes from the Latin charter). So you had the Mi’kmaq, the French, and the British all in one small area. Honestly, it’s surprising that there weren’t more wars.

One of the many conflicts that broke out was Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713), which was the North American part of the War of the Spanish Succession. The conflict itself was spread across the continent, but in the Acadia area the French and Mi’kmaq tried to prevent English expansion. This map depicts the years following the successful siege of Port Royal (1710), which was renamed Annapolis Royal. This British victory ended French control of the Nova Scotia part of Acadia. The Wabanaki Confederacy (made up of several different Indigenous groups, including the Mi’kmaq) continued to fight and hold raids for another year or so. They too were unsuccessful and in the end, the Treaty of Utretcht (1713) saw the exchange of much of the land from French to British hands.

A portrait of Herman Moll by William Stukeley (1723).

While not much is known about Nathaniel Blackmore, Herman Moll is a whole different story. Likely born around 1654, Moll was an important cartographer, engraver, and publisher based in London, England. Despite the fact that he never set foot in North America, his maps were widely influential. His work was based off of the stories of explorers like Nathaniel Blackmore and William Dampier, making sure to utilize previous maps to maintain accuracy. Aside from creating maps, Moll was also skilled at creating pocket globes.* Even though he was likely born in the Netherlands, Moll was highly patriotic about Britain. In his 1715 book, The World Described, Moll drew insets (scenes) along with his maps to show the importance of the fur trade and codfish industries and to advertise and garner support for Britain’s territorial claims in North America. (Ex: A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain).

* Pocket globes are pretty neat. They’re small globes that had a celestial map on the inside of the case that contained the globe.

You will notice that the map makes no mention of Acadia or New France even though both still existed in 1732 when it was drawn. It’s just North America now; nothing really stands in Britain’s way of further conquest. Essentially, the map is another example of his (and the government’s) desire to communicate to the general public that even though North America and other far off places may seem not of interest to them, English oversea expansion was a positive thing and should be supported.

Fun Fact: Herman Moll appears in Gulliver’s Travels; he was a friend of author Jonathan Swift.


“Bay of Fundy and harbour of Annapolis Royal. Blackmore, Nathaniel; Moll, Herman, d. 1732, 1736,” David Rumsey Map Collection. (2003). Accessed from:

Beck, J. Murray. “Nova Scotia”. The Canadian Encyclopedia. Toronto: Historica Canada, 2009. Accessed from:

Pritchard, Margaret B. Degrees of Latitude : Mapping Colonial America. Harry N. Abrams, New York, (2002).



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