Geographer and ardent map collector Derek Hayes tells the story of his adopted homeland in his Historical Atlas of Canada: Canada's History Illustrated with Original Maps
, a 272-page book in which virtually all the text comes in the form of extensive annotations to 422 historical maps of Canada, dating from the earliest known through the mid 20th-century. With each map reproduced in glorious colour, and the accompanying prose clearly demonstrating the author's love of his subject matter, this Historical Atlas
holds tremendous appeal for anyone interested in the art of cartography--not to mention those interested in Canada's history and land. "The selection of maps is purely personal," Hayes writes, "although I have done my best to ensure that all maps significant to the history of Canada are included.... But maps have also been included for their artistic merit, interest, or even because they are so far out in geographical understanding as to hold a fascination to us today."
Not to be confused with the University of Toronto Press's excellent three-volume Historical Atlas of Canada (and its offshoot, the Concise Historical Atlas of Canada), which offers all-new cartography based on recent scholarship, Hayes's Historical Atlas lets the antique documents--no matter how flawed or biased--tell their own stories. His insightful commentary, meanwhile, draws attention to just what the idiosyncrasies contained in these historical charts reveal about the nation and its people. All of the famous expeditions by European explorers--Saint Brendan, Leif the Lucky, Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, Henry Hudson, James Cook, John Palliser, and more--are here, as well as the handful of surviving maps produced by Canada's indigenous peoples. There is even an example by Shanawdithit, the woman believed to be the last survivor of the Beothuk nation. Yet Hayes, whose other titles include the award-winning Historical Atlas of British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest, reaches beyond the obvious to shed light on some of the more obscure corners of his field, which makes this Historical Atlas--the first ever to be based entirly on antique sources--particularly compelling. He discusses, for example, how three-dimensional maps were created not as navigational tools but as marketing aids, gives examples of the industry-specific maps produced by fire insurance companies, and makes extensive case studies of figures like Peter Pond (a cofounder of the North West Company) whose remarkably detailed maps reflect their maker's flawed but optimistic belief that Great Slave Lake drains into the Pacific Ocean.
The maps themselves are stunning. Overall, this Historical Atlas of Canada is as handsome as it is fascinating. --Deirdre Hanna
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This is a gorgeous piece of work, rich and heavy and brimming with the minutiae of attempts to capture aspects of the Canadian landscape by cartography." -- The Georgia Straight