A map of Cabotia; Comprehending the Provinces of Upper and Lower Canada, New-Brunswick, and Nova-Scotia, with Breton Island, Newfoundland, & c. And Including also The Adjacents Parts of the United States...
A very intriguing and beautiful rare map by John Purdy of the North American Northeast herewith dubbed “Cabotia". The map was originally published in 1814 at the tail end of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States when land and border disputes between the belligerents were of concern.
The map with its vivid colour conveys a superb depiction of the of lands bordering the St-Lawrence river with both the Seigneurial distribution used in the former French colony of New France as well as those of the Township system instituted by the British following the Seven Year’s War. The map, which begins at the Great Lakes, also depicts a border between Upper and Lower Canada and the United States that would be contested by the latter both during and after the peace negotiations at Ghent. In fact, it has been argued that “the map may have been intended for use by British administrators and war planners, and/or by its commissioners at Ghent for reference during the complicated negotiations.” Some of the issues that were negotiated at Ghent included the demand by the United States for Canadian territory and fishing rights near Newfoundland. The British, on the other hand, hoped for the creation of a buffer state by Native Americans to hem in American expansion westward, as well maintaining its Maritime territory. As it was, the Treaty of Ghent signed on December 24, 1814, effectively restored the borders to those prior to the commencement of hostilities. Any hopes of a Native American buffer state were quashed thus allowing for the eventual American expansion in the Great Lakes region.
Differences between the first state of the map of 1814 and the current state, published after the conclusion of the war, include changes to the depictions of Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Nova Scotia and Lower Canada. The map is in effect drawn with greater detail from its original publishing in 1814. That being said, the map, which was one, if not the best depiction of the Northeastern region of North America at the time, offers a new line of study in the changes that took place between the various states of the map, during and shortly after the war of 1812.
As to Purdy’s use of Cabotia to denominate the area, the reason remains unclear. It may have been simply used by the publishers, Whittle and Holmes Laurie, as a means to increase sales as was the case with their use of the term “Fredonia” to depict the United States their other maps of the period.
Until very recently, this rare 1821 state was considered the second sate. However, a state dating 1818 has been recently found, making the current example the third state in the series. All states of this map are quite rare and rarely are seen at auction.
(Sources:BRM item#2056, Malinski, R.M., “The Importance of the Map of Cabotia in the Early Nineteenth Century Mapping Sequence of Eastern Canada”, David Rumsey Map Collection#3828001, The North American Review, Vol.6, 1818.)