Le Canada ou Nouvelle France &C. Ce qui est le plus advance vers le Septentrion...
A very important foundation map of the colony of New France. Nicolas Sanson’s map is crucial to the cartographic evolution of North America as it is the first map to truly delineate and name all of the five Great Lakes. As such, Sanson’s cartography remained the standard map of the region until it was eclipsed by those produced by Guillaume de l’Isle half a century later.
Although it has been argued that the first map to possibly delineate all five of the Great Lakes is that of Jean Boisseau's Description de la Nouvelle France… published in 1643, it should be noted that the drawing for these lakes were highly inaccurate. For example, Lac Derie and Lac des Puans are minuscule compared to the other Great Lakes and are unrecognizable to their actual form. Sanson’s current map, on the other hand, is more precise with a clear representation of five Great Lakes that dominate to interior of the North American continent.
It is also noteworthy to compare this map with Sanson’s other landmark map of North America Amerique Septentrionale, published in 1650. Although Sanson’s map of 1650 is often seen as the first map to delineate the Five Great Lakes in recognizable form, Lake Ontario was mistakenly left like a river system until it was rectified in the third sate in 1659 where the shoreline was made to match those of the other Great Lakes.
Another important aspect that differentiates this map from either the Boisseau or Sanson’s map of 1650, is the fact that all five of the Great Lakes are named un-categorically. In Boisseau 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…”
In his 1650 map, Sanson leaves Lakes Erie and Huron un-named, whereas his current map of 1656 not only names Lake Erie to a recognizable body water, but also names Lake Huron as Karegnondi, the name given for this body of water by the Native Huron-Petan tribe.
Although, Sanson’s map is predominantly focused on French territory, the map does introduce some important features associated with the other colonies established in the Northeast. Long Island and New Amsterdam (present day New York) are properly positioned as is the Delaware River. Boundaries are delineated not only for the Northern reaches of New France with the possibility left open for a Northwest passage near the upper reaches of Hudson’s Bay and Nouveau Danemarcq, but also for the Colonies of Nouvelle Angleterre, Nouveau Pay Bas, N[ouvelle]. Suede, Virgine, and interestingly, with the distinction made between Spanish Florida and French Florida, most likely as way to keep French claims tenuously to the region.
This maps was separately published in 1656 and then re-issued in 1658 in Sanson’s Les Cartes Générales de routes les parties du Monde.
(Sources: Burden 294,318, Kershaw)