ALSA displays 99-year-old city map.

The Alberta Land Surveyors' Association (ALSA) has placed a large copy of Driscoll and Knight's 1912, Map of the City of Edmonton, Province of Alberta, on public display in their Edmonton offices.  (more...)

ALSA displays 99-year-old city map.

An ALSA member, answering an ad for used golf clubs, recently discovered the 6.5’ x 7.5’ map hanging in the seller’s basement. He called the Association, which purchased the map for preservation in their collection. ALSA Executive Director Brian Munday says that, "For us, the map means a great deal because of its size, age and that it was two of our charter members who prepared it." The black and white map shows Edmonton as it planned to be, just prior to the collapse of a speculative land boom. It includes dozens of neighbourhoods that would take years to be built, if they ever were. One historian has referred to maps of this period as, “a blueprint for a Greater Edmonton.”1

Also on display is a canvas-backed, dissected map of the Canadian prairies by the Department of the Interior. Dated 1905, the map is a “special edition showing even-numbered sections finally disposed of.”2 The government produced these homestead maps at least until the late 1920s. This copy bears the name of Department Minister Frank Oliver, who was to become embroiled in considerable controversy over his disposal of First Nations and Crown lands in the  west.

The ALSA offices also house the Nicholas Hilburn Bradley Historical Display, a collection of antique surveying equipment. Two cases hold a variety of instruments, most of which I couldn’t identify accurately. I thought the little LEGO® guys were a nice touch.

The public are welcome to view the maps and instruments, but are asked to call first. The ALSA offices are at 10020 - 101a Avenue (Phipps - McKinnon Bldg.), Suite 1000. Please call ahead at 780 - 429 - 8805.

1 Gilpin, John F. Responsible Enterprise: a History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board Co-operative Listing Bureau Ltd., 1997) p. 16. A much-reduced copy of this map is posted here.
2 “Finally” as in ‘conclusively’ and not ‘at long last.’

Rare Kootenay Map Acquired by Yale University

The Nelson Star reports on the purchase of a rare copy of Perry's Mining Map of the Southern Dist., West Kootenay. (Rand, McNally & Co., 1893) Described by dealer Barry Lawrence Ruderman as, "one of the earliest obtainable printed maps to focus on the Kootenay mining regions," and only the fifth known copy, the 40 x 26" full-colour map will become part of Yale's Western Americana Collection.

JH Antique Maps @ Geo Alberta 2011

Thanks to everyone at GeoAlberta 2011 for a wonderful two days earlier this month. The conference organizers (GeoEdmonton, Alberta Geomatics Group, URISA, and GITA) generously invited me to show antique maps as part of this year’s “From Drafting to Dreaming” theme. When I told DC I still had my high school drafting equipment, he asked me to bring those ‘antiques’ along as well. (more)


Wildrose 2011 wrap up

A very heartfelt (if somewhat belated) thank you to everyone who stopped by my booth at this year’s Wildrose Antique Sale. It was nice to see the familiar faces from last year and I hope to see everyone again soon. Two items had their own special ‘Wow’ factor, one for the buyers, one for me. (more)

JHMaps at Wild Rose 2011

The 36th annual Wild Rose Antique CollectorsShow and Sale is on Good Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23 at the Edmonton Expo Centre. We’ll be in Hall E (click thumbnail) and I have a booth near the back (Row G, #735). 

Drop by, say hello, and browse to your heart’s delight. Feel free to bring along any old maps you may want to sell, know more about, or simply show off. I’m always on the hunt for interesting maps of the prairies, early city maps, pre-1850s maps, unusual maps, military maps, pre-WWII globes, atlases, reference books...   

A Map to Santa's House

Two Maps from "Master and Commander."

I've been watching far too many reruns of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World over the past few months not to comment on the maps. Two of them are on the screen long enough (and often enough) to identify. (more)

Maps and Nationhood on CBC Radio

"Seeing a map of England made one English in a new way." (CBC website)

An upcoming episode of CBC Radio's, Ideas, will include Dr. Lesley Cormack discussing the role of maps in the formation of early-modern national identity. Dr. Cormack is author of Charting an Empire: Geography at the English Universities, 1580-1620 and, recently, rebuts the notion "That Medieval Christians Taught That the Earth was Flat" in Galileo goes to Jail and Other Myths about Science and Religion. (Harvard UP, 2009) She will speak with series host, David Cayley, during Episode Three ("Forms of Nationhood") of the fourteen-part The Origins of the Modern Public series.

Update: Podcasts of Episodes 1-14 available here, as they air.

jhmaps @ the Wild Rose Antique Show

This wouldn't be a ‘proper' map blog if I didn't mention the successful completion of my first antique show. I had a blast and want to thank everyone who stopped by. I think I gave out about two hundred cards, talked at least that many ears off, and turned a small profit. I really do hope to hear from everyone. (more...)

Louis Riel Day 2010

Batoche detailBatoche detail

To mark this year's Louis Riel Day I've found two maps of the North-West Rebellion. Both are from The Illustrated War News (Toronto, 1885), a short-run weekly paper devoted to covering (the suppression of) the rebellion.


Dave Gulay

Dave (David John) Gulay passed away a few weeks ago and will be greatly missed. Over the many years I worked with Dave, we all ribbed him about being an auction hound. From used power jacks to medical equipment, if there was a use for it, Dave would find it.

Dave GulayDave GulayKnowing I'm "into old maps," Dave called me one day to say he'd bought a watermelon bin full of aluminum picture frames. In one of the frames he'd found "an old map and wondered if it was worth anything." I was pretty doubtful, but you never know:

"What's it a map of?"

"I don't know."

"What's the title?"

"I can't read it. I think it's in Latin."

Latin? Probably a copy. "What's the paper look like, is it glossy?" Dave said it wasn't, that it looked old, and had "little threads in it." We established it had a plate mark on it and I was off to meet him on the south side.

What Dave had found was indeed an "old map." While my grasp of Latin is pretty sad, I did figure out it was a map of the Black Sea by Abraham Ortelius. In short, it was about 400 years old! Dave was kind enough to loan me the map for a few days to do some further research. It was originally produced for the Parergon Theatri, the first atlas of the classical and biblical geography, in 1590. Dave's copy may have been produced as late as 1624. (Ort 213)

Stumbling across an Ortelius map in a $15 bin of recyclables would be a lucky scoop anywhere - doubly so here. I made Dave an offer, even though the map had been heinously wet-mounted to a board, but he decided to hang onto it. I'm grateful to him for saving it from the trash. The world is a little richer because of his having been here and much poorer from his passing.


BookwormBookwormOne of my favourite quotes from Arthur Koestler: "I have always believed that in the administration of Divine Providence there is a special department entirely concerned with seeing that the right book comes into the hands of a reader at the right moment." 1 

So it is that, just days after mentioning Julian Barnes', The History of the World in 10½ Chapters, what should arrive in the mail but an antique book with a bookworm in it. (more...)

1 Dialogue with Death. Trevor and Phyllis Blewitt, trans. (NY: Macmillan Co., 1960) p. 125

Vermeer and Maps

A new website has prompted me to collect together some links on Vermeer and maps in Dutch painting. (More...)

Louis Riel Day, 2009

While most provinces are celebrating Family Day today, Manitoba's mid-February, anti-cabin fever holiday is Louis Riel Day. This doesn't have much to do with maps, except for the famous incident where Riel and others stood on the Riel 1Riel 1Riel 2Riel 2measuring chains of the federal surveyors. Derek Hayes tells the story in Canada: An Illustrated History and reproduces a map (p. 152) showing the spot where the Métis confronted the surveyors. Riel's group appears to have hit upon the consummate act of passive resistance to the state, at least at the onset. 

Today, Riel has been adopted by a range of groups. My personal favorite is a remix of "Louis, Louis" by the Quebec alternative band, Rhythm Activism. I quote:

Riel 3Riel 3"Louis Riel was a Dunkin' Donuts waitress, with three kids to support and an ulcer, who came home each night, soakin' her feet and smokin' a Camel filtre, dreaming: that the three-piece bedroom set, on sale at Eaton's, would be in a home of her own one day."

The photos are of a Louis Riel doll action figure which has been on my shelf for longer than I can remember. If anyone out there knows anything about these dolls action figures, *please* let me know. The background photo is Miguel Joyal's statue of Riel in front of the Manitoba Legislature Building. 

See also:  Early Surveying and Mapping in Manitoba by Allen C. Roberts, M.L.S, N.Z.L.S.; Significant Dates in Canadian Surveying Mapping and Charting, by Angus C. Hamilton and Lou M. Sebert (1996); Louis Riel and the North-West Rebellion by William Waiser (Canada Annotated Bibliographies, 1998/99).


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