Map of the Northern Lakes Showing Parry Sound, Muskoka, Nipissing, Haliburton and Georgian Bay. The Famous Highland Lake Region of Ontario, Canada.
Published 1901, Toronto
Size: 30.25" X 37.5"
Condition: Some foxing and damp stains. Some tears along folds.
A rare and intriguing map detailing a region that has come to be associated with some of Canada’s most iconic imagery of beauty and wilderness landscapes. The map depicts a region, often analogous with leisure and cottage life, where the Northern and Southern parts of Ontario intersect and where coniferous forests of Northern Ontario transition to those of the deciduous forests of the South.
The map depicts most of the districts that borders Georgian Bay in the West, Lake Nipissing in the North, the Ottawa River in the East and towards Lake Simcoe in the North. This region, prior to its re-incarnation into a tourist destination at the turn of the 20th Century, was associated with the lumber trade where red and white pine were harvested and floated down rivers such as the Madawaska, Bonnechere, or the Petawawa. Over time, as the map depicts, lumber would be milled over a vast network of small towns dependant on a rail and steamboat network that began as early as 1881 to service with goods and people the region.
The logging industry had expanded to such an extant that by 1893 Algonquin Park, which is situated East of Georgian Bay and lies almost equidistant from both Toronto and Ottawa, was established to act as a wildlife sanctuary to protect the five major rivers that flowed in this ecologically important area. This was a result of the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Forest Reservation and National Parks submitted in the same year as the Algonquin Park was created.
It is interesting to note that as visitors from the urban centres began to seek their own refuge towards areas such as those found near Georgian Bay or on the thousands of freshwater lakes that date back to the movement of glaciers of the Ice Age, turn of the century hotels began to appear in locales near such places as Muskoka Lake or even in Algonquin Park itself. It is interesting to note that as a testament to this increased interest in the region, new demands were made for maps with this current example likely being one of the most detailed available for those interested in the region. It is worth noting that an advertising piece by Michie & Co. Limited out of Toronto, that accompanies the map, offers charts of Canoe trips because “a demand has arisen for reliable charts of the trips.”
It should be noted that artists such as Tom Thompson, and what eventually became know as the Group of Seven artists, began to make pilgrimages to the region as a destination to be inspired by the landscape of the Canadian Shield and to produce some of the most iconic paintings that helped create a sense of national identity. Thomson’s Jack Pine is emblematic of this artistic movement that is now considered by the National Gallery of Canada “as a masterpiece of Canadian art, [it] conveys the spirit of the northern Ontario landscape through its simplified composition and lone pine-tree motif.”
This map of the region that has had such an impact on the vision of not only of Northern Ontario, but also of Canada in general, is not often seen on the market. The map is also an important reminder of how the economic changes from what used to be the purview of the lumber trade created the demand for maps of this nature by outdoor enthusiasts and tourists alike.