Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et des decouvertes qui y ont été faites

http://perec.mcmaster.ca/maps/omeka/artsci3bb3/2016/macrepo_26782.jpg

Dublin Core

Title

Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et des decouvertes qui y ont été faites

Subject

Canada

Description

This map, titled Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et Des Decouvertes qui y on été faites translates to: “Map of Canada or of New France: and Some Discoveries That Were Made There”. It shows eastern Canada, from Newfoundland to just west of Lake Superior, extends north to Baffin Bay and south to Long Island and shows some of the Mississippi river, the Rocky Mountains and Great Salt Lake. The map is covered with place names and descriptions of who discovered them when. Some features on the map were included based on descriptions provided by “savages”. This French map, by Jean Cóevens and Corneille Mortier, was copied from Guillaume de L’Isle’s map of the same name with a few alterations including the addition of more colour. The date that this map was created is not found on the map itself, but was likely around 1730, after Guillaume’s death. Cóevens and Mortier were publishing maps in Amsterdam around this time, and a similar version of this map is found in their 1733 Atlas. The first edition of this map was very influential given that it was one of the most accurate maps of Canada in the 18th century and included one of the earliest references to the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi.

Works Cited
Cóevens, Jean and Mortier, Corneille. Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et des Decouvertes qui y on été faites. 1730. McMaster University, Hamilton. Lloyd Reeds Map Collection. Web. 26 February 2016.

De L’Isle, Guillaume. Atlas Nouveau, Contenant Toutes les Parties du Monde: Ou Sont Exactement Remarquées les Empires, Monarchies, Royaumes, Etats, Republiques &c.. 1733. University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville. Virgo. Web. 26 February 2016.

“Guillaume De L'Isle:  Carte Du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des Decouvertes qui y ont ete fait . . . 1703 [Rare 1st edition -- Rue De Canettes].” Barry Lawrence Ruderman Antique Maps Inc. N.p, n.d. Web. 26 February 2016.

Creator

Jean Cóvens et Corneille Mortier (copied with only slight alteration from Guillaume de l'Isle's map of Canada)

Publisher

Cóvens et Mortier

Date

1730 or later

Contributor

Alison St. Pierre

Rights

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License

Relation

Full-sized digital item can be found in McMaster's Digital Archive at: http://digitalarchive.mcmaster.ca/islandora/object/macrepo%3A26782

Format

A printed map (cartouche and map are hand coloured), 50 x 59 cm

Language

French

Type

Cartographic

Identifier

RMC_107266

Coverage

North America, primarily Canada

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

Printed map (cartouche and map are hand coloured)

Physical Dimensions

50 x 59 cm

Contributor's Research

In Deconstructing the Map, Harley chooses the broad term “cultural text” to describe maps, given that this label leaves maps open to interpretation (7). Instead of viewing maps as direct visual translations of objective scientific fact, or “mirrors of nature”, maps as texts can be viewed as cultural artifacts acting within a certain discourse (7). In the case Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et Des Decouvertes qui y on été faites, the actual text printed onto the map makes obvious the usefulness of the “cultural text” label. The text, often noting who discovered certain places, opens up this map to being interpreted through a Foucauldian lens.

Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et Des Decouvertes qui y on été faites was created in the midst of the Enlightenment. During this time, the European cartographic tradition was shifting to fit under the developing western scientific epistemology. As can be seen in the modern day, this trend continues, as maps are now often viewed as technical, objective and realistic representations of physical geography. I view this trend as merely obscuring the process and background work of mapmaking, in order to imply that the process is completely objective. This is not necessarily done consciously; cartographers in the 18th century considered themselves scientists just like cartographers today. As we omit all “artistic” detail from maps, cartography is telling us authoritatively that it is able to show us fact. In 1739, Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et Des Decouvertes was created using scientific conventions such as coordinates and minimal illustration, but deviated from science, or what we now call science, in its use of text annotating places on the map.

So what is the function of text on this map more specifically, and what can this tell us? As mentioned previously, the majority of the text on the map notes when certain places were “discovered” and by whom. On one hand, we can analyze the connotations of this text. The notion of discovery is invariably linked to colonialism. Land on which Indigenous Peoples had been living was now only being discovered and renamed by Europeans. As Wood points out in Rethinking the Power of Maps, maps may help to propagate certain societies as opposed to just documenting their geography. This map may have helped to spread French colonialism into this part of the world.

On another hand we can analyze the implications of this text. Noting who made certain discoveries hints at the observational nature of information being recorded on this map. Journals, stories, and word of mouth were used to generate certain parts of the map. For example, next to Great Salt Lake there is a passage that, translated, reads: “Salt water lake 30 leagues large and 30 leagues around following the account of Savages who still say that its mouth that is far from the south side is less than 2 leagues wide and there is around 100 villages around this sort of sea on which they sail with big boats.” Here the cartographer is openly admitting that this area of the map was created based on stories. This absence of the authoritative, all knowing tone we are used to seeing on maps reflects a more transparent kind of mapmaking; we know where the cartographer is getting their information.

This passage also admits uncertainty. The cartographer has tried to represent “some sort of sea” that is known to exist, as opposed to omitting it from the map. Two other pieces of text represent this admittance of uncertainty particularly well. First is the text annotating a river just west of Lake Superior which reads: “River for which we don’t know the source or the mouth”. The cartographer has chosen to include this river even though little is known of its actual geography. This is a visual and textual reminder that this map does not show us everything, and that which it does show may not be accurate. These sorts of reminders are seldom found on modern maps. Second is a portion of text just north of Great Salt Lake which talks about the Mississippi, called Long or Dead River. It notes that Baron de Lahontan is the only man to have explored this area and so it is impossible to know if he had just “invented it all”. Today we are expected to trust because we trust science. On this map we are expected to trust people who are clearly identified.

Ultimately, this map’s use of text is more transparent than today’s mapmaking in the that it reminds us that we are looking at representations of perceptions of space rather than facts of space. This is exemplified by the text on the map that reads “Country of the Moozeml ek who are very polite”. All maps represent perceptions; this map is just more open about it.

Works Cited
Cóevens, Jean and Mortier, Corneille. Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et des Decouvertes qui y on été faites. 1730. McMaster University, Hamilton. Lloyd Reeds Map Collection. Web. 26 February 2016.

Harley, J.B. Deconstructing the Map. 1989. PDF file.

Wood, Denis. “Maps Blossom in the Springtime of the State.” Rethinking the Power of Maps. New York: Gulliford Press, 2010. 15-38. PDF file."

Citation

Jean Cóvens et Corneille Mortier (copied with only slight alteration from Guillaume de l'Isle's map of Canada), “Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France: et des decouvertes qui y ont été faites,” Omeka Testbed, accessed September 26, 2017, http://mapexhibit.mcmaster.ca/items/show/40.