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History

The stunning illustrated maps of early cartographer Wilfrid Flood

You don't often see Canadian maps like this anymore

  • Aug 18, 2016
  • 365 words
  • 2 minutes
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Cartography is one of Canadian Geographic’s great loves, and has been a pillar of the magazine ever since the publication’s earliest days as the Canadian Geographical Journal. One of the magazine’s first mapmakers in the 1930s (it’s difficult to be definitive as they weren’t always credited back then) was Wilfrid Flood.

Along with being a prolific and prominent artist, Flood worked full time as a cartographer with the federal Department of Mines in the 1930s and ’40s, before his untimely death of a heart attack in 1946 at the age of 42.

Flood’s work recently hit the news when the Ottawa Art Gallery acquired a collection of 88 otherwise forgotten sketches and paintings discovered after his widow’s death in 1998. Flood’s son John had held the paintings in the intervening decade-and-a-half following their discovery, insisting any gallery wishing to obtain them must exhibit them (as opposed to keep them in storage). The Ottawa Art Gallery will be displaying the pieces when the gallery opens its new building next year.

Here’s a collection of Flood’s cartographic creations — true works of art that were as informative as they were refined — from the Canadian Geographic archives, least they too not be seen.

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A map of the St. Lawrence River from the April 1937 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal. (Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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Map of air inspection routes across Canada, from the November 1936 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal. (Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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Air inspection routes of Canada, mapped in the November 1936 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal. (Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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A map of the Coronation Gulf from the June 1936 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal. (Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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Canada’s motor car industry, from the April 1937 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal. (Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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The golden plover migration route, as seen in the January 1937 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal(Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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A map of flight routes to the Yukon, as seen in the August 1937 issue of Canadian Geographical Journal(Map: Wilfrid Flood/Canadian Geographic Archives)
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