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First map of Canada's West

An incredibly detailed map designed to inform and inspire settlers
  • Mar 21, 2016
  • 156 words
  • 1 minutes
Map: Thomas Devine, Map of the Northwest Part of Canada Indian Territories & Hudson's Bay, 1857, Library and Archives Canada, NMC 48944, E011165527
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What would the enterprising settler journeying to northwestern Canada in the 1850s have carried? Among the supplies of food and clothes would have been tools, of course — things needed to clear land, build a home, cook meals and provide protection. But amid those axes, knives, pots and pistols was probably something just as valuable — a map.

The map pictured here was created by Thomas Devine in 1857, and although it actually shows northwestern Ontario, all of western Canada and the Arctic, it was, as Devine’s entry on the Dictionary of Canadian Biography website notes, “intended to support claims for Canadian expansion into the prairies.”

The map is packed with information that must have been deemed valuable to settlers, including the “Indian population of North America,” topography, colour-coded geologic zones and lines of temperature equivalent to those of Kingston, Ont.

With files from Isabelle Charron, early cartographic archivist, Library and Archives Canada


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This story is from the April 2016 Issue

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