A Chart of the West Coast of Newfoundland, Surveyed by Order of Commodore Pallisser, Governor of Newfoundland and Labradore &c.&c.
Published 1775 (1770), London
Image Size: 21 5/8" X 69 1/2"
A rare and important map by one of the greatest cartographer and explorer of the 18th Century. It has been argued that "the charting of Newfoundland and southern Labrador by Cook, in the years 1763-7, and by his successor Michael Lane, in 1768-73, was unequalled, for thoroughness and method, by any previous hydrographic work by Englishmen; and it produced the first charts of this extensive and difficult coastline that could (in the words of a later hydrographer) 'with any degree of safety be trusted by the seaman'" (Skelton & Tooley).
James Cook’s charts of Newfoundland were commissioned by the British Admiralty following the conclusion of the the Seven Years’ War in 1763. As such, following the Treaty of Paris, Admiral Thomas Graves set about to survey the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador so as to properly delineate the region’s maritime boundaries to make sure that France, with its colonies of St-Pierre and Miquelon, respected its territorial waters. It must be noted that it was the fisheries off of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland that proved to be the most profitable industry for Britain’s North American colonies.
Cook’s participation in this important and monumental surveying project lasted until 1769, after which, he was promoted by the British Admiralty to lead his first, of three, famous expedition to the Pacific Ocean. His promotion was no doubt the result of his unsurpassed surveying and charting capabilities as witnessed by his landmark chart of the St-Lawrence in 1760 as well as his meticulous exploits in charting Newfoundland and Labrador.
With Cook’s departure, Michael Lane continued the surveying with the same high standards set by his predecessor. As such, the charting of Newfoundland and Labrador by both Cook and Lane are seen as a milestone in 18th century cartography.
As with many sea charts of the times, not many are found on the market today. Marine Charts, by their very nature, were meant to be used at sea and, as a result, were either discarded or lost. Cook and Lane’s chart were initially published in Thomas Jefferys’ A Collection of Charts, 1769, then re-issued in The North American Pilot in 1775. It has been stated The North American Pilot comprised the “most important coastal charts of America at the start of the Revolution.”
Cook’s chart of the West Coast of Newfoundland starts at Cape Anguille, the most Westerly point of Newfoundland in the Bay of St. George, to Point Ferolle in the Bay of St. John. The map has an inset plan of Hawkes Harbour, Port Saunders and Keppel Harbour, as well as a plan of York and Lark Harbours in the Bay of Islands. Five land views emanating from corresponding ships anchored offshore also adorn the map.
The area depicted was important not only for the fisheries, but also harboured safe havens for ships plying their trade or escaping detection. In fact, although the West Coast was sparsely populated at the time, certain enclaves such as “Hawke's Bay became a favoured enclave for tall ships from both the British & French navies during the early struggle for control of North America.” It is also important to note that certain locales were named by Cook, such as Port Saunders and Hawkes Harbour, in honour of those who fought in the Seven Years’ War.
(Sources: WRCAM42953, Tooley The Mappinf of America, Hawke’s Bay www.explorenewfoundlandlabrador.com)