A New & Accurate Map of the Islands of New Foundland, Cape Breton, St. John and Anticosta.
Published 1752, London
Size: 17" X 13.5"
An important English rendition of Jacques Nicolas Bellin’s foundation map of the Northeastern coast of America. The map was originally published in François Xavier de Charlevoix's Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France in 1744. It has been argued that Charlevoix's history proved exceptionally influential as one of the most comprehensive works on North America predating the Seven Year’s War in 1756-63. As such, this map would have been of particular interest to Europeans as it depicted the River and Gulf and the St-Lawrence, the major gateway to France’s North American colonies prior to the commencement of hostilities between France and Great Britain that would decide the fate of European colonialism on the North American continent. Furthermore, it has been argued that “Bellin’s map would remain the chart of record until Samuel Holland’s scientific surveys were published as part of J.F.W. Des Barres’ Atlantic Neptune in 1775-84.”
According to Kershaw, Bellin notes that this map is extremely different to all other maps that would have preceded it because of his access to manuscript material in the Dépôt des Carte, Plans et Journaux de la Marine as well as from first hand accounts form Jesuit missionaries. In other words, Bellin, who sorted and compiled works from various sources, was better known as a “géographe de cabinet” as opposed to those who plied their craft in the field.
One is also struck by the amount of native nomenclature on the North shore of the St-Laurence. It should be noted that the North and the interior of the American continent, where many native communities lived, was of particular importance to New France as well as to English concerns as it was the source from which the fur trade stemmed.
Bellin’s fascinating map as depicted by Emanuel Bowen of the St-Lawrence is thus a great reminder of the strategic importance that the region had both militarily and economically in the early days of European colonization. It also provides an important reminder of the role that Native communities played in this development.
(Sources: Kershaw 690)