This article is over 5 years old and may contain outdated information.


Mapping the first transatlantic cable

Looking back 150 years at a watershed moment in global communication
  • Jul 06, 2016
  • 178 words
  • 1 minutes
Expand Image

In an age when phone calls, emails and texts zip across the globe in seconds, it’s hard to imagine anyone today having the patience to transmit a message at a rate of six to eight words per minute.

But when the first lasting transatlantic cable was hauled ashore at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, 150 years ago this July 27, that sort of speed marked a new era of intercontinental communication; after all, sending letters by ship across the Atlantic took several days.

The establishment of the cable between Newfoundland and Valentia Bay, Ireland, was a landmark event, one that was celebrated not just by the publication of the map shown here, but also by the creation of a work of art, namely Robert Dudley’s Landing of the Atlantic Cable of 1866 at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland.

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

Expand Image

Landing of the Atlantic Cable of 1866 at Heart’s Content, Newfoundland, watercolour by Robert Charles Dudley, 1866. (Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. R9266-175, Peter Winkworth Collection of Canadiana, e000756702)


Are you passionate about Canadian geography?

You can support Canadian Geographic in 3 ways:

Canada's Greatest Women Explorers

This story is from the July/August 2016 Issue

Related Content

maritime link

Science & Tech

Longest sub-sea electricity cable in North America now links Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia

The Maritime Link project will connect the power grids in the two provinces

  • 444 words
  • 2 minutes


New mangrove forest mapping tool puts conservation in reach of coastal communities

Mangroves provide a range of benefits, including protection from storms and the prevention of coastal erosion

  • 1080 words
  • 5 minutes
Vents and chimneys on an underwater volcano

Science & Tech

Canadian technology takes ocean mapping to new depths

Researchers and industry leaders now have quicker access to data showing the complexity of the world’s seabed. Part five of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster: A six-part series. 

  • 806 words
  • 4 minutes
historic disease map


Q&A: Tom Koch on disease mapping and medical geography

‘Maps aren't magic,’ says University of British Columbia prof — but during disease outbreaks, they can help us sort good information from bad

  • 778 words
  • 4 minutes