A New Chart of the river St. Laurence, from the Island of Anticosti to the Falls of Richelieu : With all the islands, rocks, shoals, and soundings, also particular directions for navigating the river with safety...
JAMES COOK, Published 1760 (1775)
Image size: 35 3/4" X 33", Twelve Sheet map joined in 3 section
A very rare and historically important published chart by James Cook devoted exclusively to the St-Lawrence river. It is the rare 2nd state twelve sheet chart joined into three sections which was at one time bound into Sayer & Bennett’s “North American Pilot.” Cook’s chart was originally separately-issued in 1760 by Thomas Jefferys. The rarity on the market for both states comes from its historically wide use and application as a standard chart of navigation for this crucial and strategic waterway. As such, no sales record exist on Americana Exchange of this 2nd state.
The surveying for this monumental chart of the St-Lawrence began in 1758 shortly after the the fall of Louisbourg from the Battle of Carillon and before the British forces, under the command of Admiral Saunders, launched their decisive assault on Quebec City as part of the Seven Year War effort against the French in North America. The intent of the British Navy was to compile and correct existing French and British charts, at the onset of the siege of Quebec City in 1759. In fact, when the British began its move from Halifax to a landing near Quebec City, Cook’s ship was among those that led the fleet upstream while proceeding to sound the channel. Admiral Saunders’ command of 49 ships and 140 smaller vessels were instrumental in supporting General Wolfe’s troops and limiting the supplies and reinforcements to the besieged city.
The result was a chart by James Cook under the tutelage of Samuel Holland, the future Surveyor General of the Northern British Provinces, that far surpassed those on the contemporary market. As such, Cook’s and Holland’s chart enabled the British forces to deftly navigate the perilous shoals and channels such as The Traverse near the proposed landing sites in the siege of Quebec City. 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 September 8th 1760 would 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.
(Sources: Arkway, Cohen & Taliaferro, Catalog #69., Hayes, D. Historical Atlas of Canada, Reid, S., Quebec 1759: The Battle That Won Canada, Kershaw #647, Williams, G. Cook, James, Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 4)