Plan de la ville de Quebec.
Published 1744(1757), Paris
Size: 11" x 8"
An important plan of the city of Québec by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, the pre-eminent cartographer of the 18th Century. The city plan was originally published in François Xavier de Charlevoix's Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France in 1744 and re-issued, as with this example, in Abbé Antoine François Prévost’s Histoire Générale des Voyages in 1757. 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 and his plan of the town of “Québec which was subsequently copied by most cartographers until late in the [18th] century.”
As such, this map would have been of particular interest to Europeans as it depicted 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.
As such, with the fall of Quebec City in 1759, a three pronged attack under the command of Lord Jeffrey Amherst, could commence to capture Montreal from up and downstream of 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 plan of the city of Québec is thus a great reminder of the strategic importance that the region had both militarily and economically in the early days of European colonization.
(Sources: Kershaw 813)