Description de la Nouvelle France ou sont remarquees les diverses habitations des Francois, depuis la premiere decouverte...
A rare second state of Jean Boisseau’s landmark map of New France that was possibly the first map to depict as well as name all five of the North American Great Lakes. The map’s cartography is that of Samuel de Champlain’s map of 1632 Carte de la Nouvelle France… As such, Boisseau is the first cartographer to reprint Champlain’s cartography and predates that of Du Val’s famous Le Canada faict par le Sr. de Champlain ou mont la Nouvelle France… published in 1653.
It has been argued that the Great Lake nomenclature includes Lac St Louis (Lake Ontario), Lac Derie (Lake Erie), Mer Douce ou Lac (Lake Huron), Grand Lac (Lake Superior), and finally, Lac des Puans (Lake Michigan). However, it should be noted that the drawing for these lakes are highly inaccurate. For example, Lac Derie and Lac des Puans are minuscule compared to the other Great Lakes and are unrecognizable to their actual delineation. This has been attributed, by some, as the result of the mis-interpretation of second-hand sources by Champlain that persisted in Boisseau’s map. It should also be noted that there are questions as it relates to the names attributed to some of the Great Lakes. For instance, it is uncertain whether Grand Lac and Mer Douce ou Lac, which relates to Lake Superior and Lake Huron respectively, are the names that Boisseau intended for them or whether they are simply part of the annotations that describe pertinent information to the bodies of water in question. The name Grand Lac could simply form part of the note that translates to “Big Lake of the Nadouession” and Mer Douce ou Lac to the notation that translates to “Freshwater Sea or Lake discovered with the nearby coasts…”
That being said, Boisseau’s map remains important when comparing it to the other landmark map of the Great Lakes region of the era, that of Nicolas Sanson’s Amerique Septentrionale published in 1650. When comparing the two maps, it is evident that Sanson’s depiction is the more precise. It also leaves the viewer with no questions as to intent given to the names attributed to all five of the Great Lakes. Boisseau offers, however, a map, with “its updates and additions”, that is part of the series that begins with Champlain that attempts to record the conflicting reports of this important region that was instrumental to the fur trade and as a possible route across the continent to the Orient.
This state, published circa 1664, has no date or imprint and has the addition of degrees of latitude and longitude. The dating of the map is based on the use of New Amsterdam to name the Dutch colony as opposed to New York for which it was renamed in 1664. Other important additions to the second state include the drawing of the following regions of Floride, Virginie, N. Svede, N. Hollande and N. Angleterre.
(Sources: Burden 261, 318, Kershaw.83)