Bellin, Carte de L'Isle D'Orleans et de Passage de la Traverse dans le Fleuve St Laurent.
Published 1744, Paris
Size: 11" X 7.5"
An important map of L’Isle d’Orleans and of the famous segment of the St-Laurence River leading to Quebec City known “la Traverse” by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, the pre-eminent cartographer of the 18th Century. This map was published in François Xavier de Charlevoix's Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France in 1744 which depicted some of the earliest city plans of the New France colony. 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, which depicts one of the most dangerous stretches of navigable waterways in the North American continent would have been of particular interest to Europeans as it delineates an important location at the heart of the St-Lawrence, the major gateway into France’s North American colonies. Québec City was the seat of the government in New France from which the French Colony controlled a vast empire into the interior of the North American continent.
With the fall of Quebec City in 1759, a three pronged attack under the command of Lord Jeffrey Amherst commenced to capture Montreal from the St-Lawrence as well as from the South by way of Lake Champlain. The British victory on the Plains of Abraham outside of the city’s fortification on September 8th 1760 would thus lead to the fall of France’s North American Empire and remove any European impediment emanating from the North to the Westward expansion in Britain’s North American colonies.
Bellin’s fascinating map of the L’Isle d’Orleans and of the Traverse is thus a great reminder of the strategic importance that the region had both militarily and economically in the early days of European colonization.