Partie du Cours du Fleuve de Saint Laurent depuis Québec jusqu'a Cap aux Oyes...
SIZE: 22" X 33.9"
A beautiful example of the second state of Bellin’s great chart of the St-Lawrence. The rare map is divided into two horizontal sections. The first section depicts the St- Lawrence from Québec to the Cap aux Oyes, and the second section, using a different scale, from Québec to Matane and Rivière aux Outardes. The chart also has, on the upper right corner, a View of the Traverse, a somewhat perilous location on the South side of Isle aux Rots and Grosse Isle.
The first section also depicts three navigational channels; “Chenal des Vaisseaux”, “Ancien Chenal des Anglois”, and “Chenal D’Iberville”. These three channels all converge on the South bank of Isle d’Orleans and give a detail assessment of the soundings, shoals and currents for this waterway. Also of note, was Bellin's use, as a result of the work of Chartier de Lotbinière in 1754, of a more precise measurement for the Longitude of Quebec than that of Jean Deshayes' published reading in 1706. In fact, although Bellin used Deshayes famous chart of the St-Lawrence, initially published in 1702, as a starting point, many of the updates come from the survey work conducted in 1738-40 by the port captain of Quebec, Richard Testu de la Richardière and Gabriel Pellegrin. In addition, Bellin requested French pilotes navigating the St-Lawrence to submit their observations to the Dépot des cartes et plans de la Marine, thus giving him multiple sources from which to verify the accuracy of the surveying.
It is of historical significance that although Bellin began to compile information for this chart prior to the outbreak of the Seven Year War, it would only be published following the fall of Québec. As such, the French were at a navigational disadvantage to the English who were able to obtain, on the eve of the British siege of Québec in 1759, a more detailed chart of the St-Lawrence through the cartographic exploits of James Cook. In fact, the differences in the way that Bellin and Cook went about their trade, may help explain why the latter was able to publish his chart sooner. Whereas Cook was plying his trade in the field, Bellin was better known as a “géographe de cabinet”. In other words, Bellin, who sorted and compiled works from various sources, was in effect, adding another layer to the charting process. That being said, Bellin’s chart remains valuable as a monument to the quest for precision and excellence by one of the great cartographers of the 18th century. It is also a useful comparison to juxtapose against the first ever published chart of another great cartographer of the ages, that of James Cook.
(Sources: Kershaw #65, Palomino, J.F., Entre la recherche du vrai et l’amour de la patrie : cartographier la Nouvelle-France au xviiie siècle, BANQ, 2009)