To His Most Excellent Majesty King William IVth This Map of the Provinces of Lower & Upper Canada, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Prince Edwards Island, with a Large Section of the United States…
Published 1831, London
Size: 24.6" X 37.9". Three separate sheets.
Condition: Very Good. Light toning and offsetting. Each sheet has a blindstamp and there are stamps on the verso of each sheet from Pack Memorial Public Library, Asheville, NC clearly counterstamped "withdrawn." The slipcase is stained and worn with short separations. A paper label and white ink were also added to the slipcase with library shelving information.
A rare first state of this important map of Upper and Lower Canada, with insets depicting the Western and Northern region of Upper Canada all the way to the Pacific and including Alaska but was then referred to as Russian Territory, as well as one depicting the Gulf of St-Lawrence including Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
This map was published shortly after the creation of the Canada Company in 1826, synonymous with the Family Compact of Upper Canada, that was established to help distribute Crown lands and help colonize large parts of what is now the province of Ontario and especially the region called the Huron Tract near the northeastern shores of Lake Huron.
The map also comes at a time when the Chateau Clique, in Lower Canada, was at its most powerful. The Chateau Clique is renown for its attempt to abolish the seigneurial system of land ownership in Lower Canada and replace the French civil code with British common law. Similar the the Family Compact, the Chateau Clique attempted to consolidate their power through the control of grants of Crown Lands and Clergy Reserves.
Although the map is occasionally attributed to Joseph Bouchette Sr., because it was intended to accompany his book British Dominions in North America, it is actually his son, Joseph-Francis Bouchette, the Deputy Surveyor-General of Lower Canada, that was the actual cartographer of this seminal work. The confusion between the two Bouchette might be attributed to the fact that Joseph Bouchette Sr. was a renown cartographer in his own right who was often associated with supporting the cartographic efforts of the Crown to install a township system as opposed to the traditional Seigneurial system, who was named the Surveyor general as early as 1804.
Being as it may, Bouchette’s current map is extraordinary in the scope and the detail it offers to viewers at this important juncture in the socio-political development of both Upper and Lower Canada.
As mentioned above, the Canada Company was established to develop and colonize large parts of modern day Ontario. This endeavour, however, was mired, at the beginning with a certain amount of conflicts of interests, mismanagement and corruption related to the land distribution and its close alliance with the ruling elites of the day, in what has come to be known as the “Family Compact.” This Family Compact, a moniker popularized by the reformer in the Upper Canada Legislative Assembly, William Lyon Mackenzie in 1833, can be said to be an attempt by the elites of the day to install a type ruling aristocracy based on an alliance between a clique of political leaders, wealthy land owners and financiers within the confines of Upper Canada. Their aim was thus to control the legislative and executive branch of government, especially as it relates to the acquisition of landed estates and by controlling the future of the colonial economic development such as the construction of the Welland Canal.
It is interesting to note that the Welland Canal, beginning near St-Catherines, which had its first trial run in 1829, allowed ships travelling to or from Lake Ontario and Lake Erie to bypass Niagara Falls. Bouchette’s map not only shows this important engineering feat, but provides an early view of the full extant of the Canal that would eventually have one of its branches reach all the way to the Grand River.
Moreover, it is important to note, that in order to solidify and hold on to power, the Family Compact tried to limit the distribution of land grants, which was a prerequisite to have a vote and/or to hold elected office, especially to American immigrants who’s loyalty was suspect. Furthermore, it is argued that “the role of speculation in the vacant lands of Upper Canada ensured the development of group solidarity and cohesion of interest among the members of the Family Compact.” As the Family Compact grew in power, opposition began to ferment for reform. This eventually led to the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 that created the condition for a united government based on more democratic principals.
In a similar fashion, the Chateau Clique’s attempts to control the power sharing ideals of the legislative and executive branches of government, and their attempts to assimilate a predominantly French Canadian population on British ideals of law, social customs and land ownership, ultimately led to the Lower Canada Rebellion of 1837.
As a result of these two Rebellions, Lord Durham was sent to Upper and Lower Canada to report on the conditions that led to this state of affairs. His report, amongst other things, led to the Act of Union of 1840 that abolished the legislatures in Lower and Upper Canada and combined these two colonies into a political entity known as the Province of Canada.
Although it is beyond the scope of this description, it was the Act of Union that ultimately led to further tensions and conflicts that would ultimately lead to Confederation in 1867 and the modern embodiment of Canada.
Another aspect that is of interest are the sources that Bouchette lists for this cartographic undertaking. Not only does Bouchette indicate that he consulted the surveys of Major Holland (his great uncle), Captain Owen, Mr. Wright, Joseph Frederick Debarres, his father, Lieut. Col. Bouchette, Captain Bayfield, but also those made under of Admiral Sir Charles Ogle and, most importantly “the operations of the astronomers and surveyors employed by the commissioners for surveying the Boundary line under the different Articles of the Treaty of Ghent.”
As such, the map, which is extremely rare, is quite important in that it is the most extensive depiction of Upper and Lower Canada in the formative period where un-democratic forces attempted to control the legislative and executive levers of government through land ownership and distribution. This map would thus have been of immense interest to both reformers and the political elites of the day because it referenced in detail the townships wherein the Canada Company had lands generally in lots of 200 acres, the townships wherein the Canada Company had blocks of lands, those townships wherein the Canada Company had both lots and blocks of land, as well as showing post towns, villages, canals, district, county and boundary lines. Furthermore, his association both professional and familial, with some of the most important surveyors of his day, rendered his map one of the most reliable and accurate depiction for Upper and Lower Canada during the formative period of socio-economic development of this region of North America.