Edmonton, 1913 - The Free City Guide

I've posted a copy of a Free City Guide, for Edmonton, dated January 1913, in a couple of image galleries. The original 48-page booklet (3¼ x 5¾", 84 x 146mm) has light card covers and a stapled binding. The contents include listings of:

  • p. 1 - 26                government bldg.s, civic officials, hotels, banks, business and apartment blocks, etc.
  • p. 27 - 32              railway timetables
  • p. 33 - 46              streetcar service
  • p. 47 - 48              Editorial calling for more local production to stem capital flight entitled, More Smoke!

 At the rear is a folding map of the city, produced by Driscoll & Knight. (More on that in a later entry.) The hope is that (better informed) local historians and railway enthusiasts may find it useful. For some context, see Dr. Rod Macleod's, Edmonton's Story. I think the best work on local streetcars is Edmonton's Electric Transit: The Story of Edmonton's Streetcars and Trolley Buses by Colin K. Hatcher and Tom Schwarzkopf. (Toronto: Railfare Enterprises Ltd., 1983) See also the comprehensive Atlas of Alberta Railways, sponsored by the University of Alberta Press.

Places and Spaces: Mapping Science

Places & SpacesPlaces & SpacesCameron Library has reopened its first floor and is currently hosting the first four iterations of the Places and Spaces display. With only a few minutes to snap photos, I managed to see just enough to seriously test my ideas about what makes a map, a map. (more)

Mini-globes: collecting for the fun of it.

Mini-globesMini-globesCollecting is supposed to be fun. It's good to remind yourself of that from time to time. For me, half the fun is inflicting my passion on unsuspecting bystanders. To that end, I have recently acquired several dozen mini-globes, small enough to carry in a pocket, tuck in a stocking, or pass on to a bored kid. (more)

Videos about maps

A couple of MapHist posts and a recent CBC Sparks episode prompted me to search the Prelinger Archive for online films about maps. Unfortunately, I only got one hit, a rather quirky, Jam Handy short about how roadmaps are updated that's probably only of interest to the most hardcore roadmap fans. A couple of scenes do strike me as rather bizarre. Note the way the block slides around as the engraver works on it. And what's happening in that final scene with the Highway Superintendent? After measuring the grade (18%), he checks in with the foreman. Then he floors it up the new detour while the boys watch to see if he'll make it. I had assumed there might be some higher level of engineering involved.

The Prelinger Archive and it's larger host the Internet Archive are an amazing resource of online films, many copyright free. The Library of Congress acquired Rick Prelinger's collection of 60,000 industrial, educational, and promotional films in 2002 and there are currently about 2000 online.

Probably of more general interest, are the two films mentioned on MapHist. The first discusses the origins of Harry Beck's, London Underground Map, and its influence on other subway maps around the world. The second is part of the Chicago History Museum's, How it's Made, series. It follows the production of globes at Repogle and gives me a chance to play with the blog's YouTube feature. 


Flunk 'em if they can't take a joke.

This diagram, from a late 19th century American atlas, would make a wicked exam:

ArtHist 100 Final - From the diagram, name all 50 numbered monuments, buildings, etc., including the city and country where they are currently found, their primary materials of construction, and their height (in both feet and metres). Right minus wrong. 25 minutes. Grade = 95% of term. Good luck and enjoy your summer.

New Links to Exhibition Catalogues

Details of Cameron Library's recent map displays and exhibits have just been added to the University of Alberta's William C. Wonders Map Collection homepage. The new 'Map Displays and Exhibits' link leads to titles, bibliographical details, and notes for the A Most Dangerous Voyage and Legacy of Empire supplementary map displays.

Held in conjunction with exhibits at Bruce Peel Special Collections, the map displays give just a glimpse of the treasures held at the U of A. Thanks to David L. Jones, WCWMC Map Librarian, for what may be a revolutionary new approach to 'museum' exhibits - print your own catalogue!

Legacy of Empire

CatalogueCatalogueBruce Peel does it again, with its current show of maps and books of Central Europe and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Armed with the comprehensive catalogue and having seen the supplementary map display, my thoughts are running in so many directions I'll have to deal with this one in pieces:

Bruce Peel's current exhibit: Sept. - Dec. 2008 and a tangent.
Cameron Library's map display: ended Sept. 21, 2008
How did all this stuff end up in Edmonton? The catalogue.
Library Collections and $: boom and bust at the U, 1960 - 2008.

Legacy of Empire - a teaser

I think I just saw the biggest map I ever saw. At least, a corner of it.

The map is Regna Galiciæ, et Lodomeriæ... (Lemberg [Lvov], 1794) and was, for me, the centrepiece of Bruce Peel's new, "Legacy of Empire: Treasures of the University of Alberta's Central European Library Collection." The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomaria was the name given by the Hapsburgs to the region they annexed following the First Partition of Poland (1772). Jesuit astronomer Joseph Liesganig began the survey, which was completed by Joseph Marx von Lichtenstern, a military surveyor. The forty-nine sheets that make up the complete map were engraved by Gottfried Prixner. The cartouche, "depicts a personification of the rivers and natural wealth of the land."1

"Legacy of Empire" marks the 10th anniversary of the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies and was arranged by its director, Franz A.J. Szabo. It runs until December. (More info and pix in a few days.)

In conjunction, the William C. Wonders Map Collection is staging a display of "Early maps of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hungary and Central Europe [...] featuring Hungarian maps recently donated by J. Eugene Horvath." This show only runs until Sept. 21st, so, as my father would say, "You'd best get at 'er." (Cameron Library, 4th floor) I haven't seen this one, yet. Stay tuned.

1 Szabo, Franz A.J. Legacy of Empire: treasures of the University of Alberta's Central European library collection. (Edmonton, U. of Alberta P., 2008) p. 28. Catalogue item #29.


Hacking Old Globes.

There's a modest collection of 20th century globes at a local travel shop. Tucked in with about a dozen, fairly non-descript models1 is the manuscript 'Texan's Globe.'2 The hand-drawn and coloured globe shows the world in the mind of a stereotyped Texan. Half the Earth is filled by a swollen United States, with Texas taking up about one third of that. Canada is squeezed between New York and an Alaska that touches the 49th parallel. Beyond, the geography becomes even more bizarre.

HawaiiHawaiiTexas & SWTexas & SWFlorida & SWFlorida & SWThe SouthThe SouthCanadaCanadaThe Philipines, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia are all in the Atlantic, south of Britain. Central and South America have disappeared near the South Pole, while Cuba remains just off the Florida coast. Europe, Africa, and Asia are all jammed into the remaining space. Texas, then, becomes the centre of a largely American world, with its friends close by and its enemies insignificant and distant.

BritainBritainAfricaAfricaMost nations are unmarked and unlabeled. Those which are labelled often come with short, xenophobic remarks. "We pretty much got it all down here..." adorns Texas, but there is little to gain beyond its borders. Sure, there are "Mormons (good)" and "LOTS of Mexicans (generally good, Especially when they vote Republican)" to the west, but in northern California, "Are these people actually AMERICANS? Geez." Most of the US is rated "good", while abroad most nations are "bad" or "suspicious."

Chad ValleyChad ValleyBankBankWeather GlobeWeather GlobeCanadians are, "Kinda like Australians, but snootier, plus a whole whack of 'em speak FRENCH. I kid you not..." Australians "speak English, sorta" and Japan is labeled, "Good cars. Sneaky though." South America is summed up with, "Lotsa drug smugglers, left-wing terrorists & guys with mustaches. Very suspicious." South Africa is "Home of Nelson Mandela." Also, "Very suspicious." Several fighter jets, helicopters, and missles fill up any blank spaces over the oceans, especially where they surround Cuba.

Personally, I see this as satire and think it's funny as hell. The maker has put some real thought into the geography and the notes to make his point. The colouring is carefully done and the labeling is clear and consistant. I've asked the shop's owner to keep me in mind if she remodels.

You may not care for the Texan Globe. If so, I challenge you to produce your own. What the maker did was take an old Cram's or Replogle globe, spray paint it white, and then begin drawing. (As noted above, a little talent may help too.) It's still pretty easy to find cheap, outdated globes produced between World War Two and the breakup of the Soviet Union. I haven't tried it (yet), but I think it would be best to start by removing the stand. Hang the globe from a string and spin some tension into the string. Then you can spray the globe as it spins out the tension in the line. (Try lots of light coats to avoid drips and/or a grey primer.) Let dry, compose geography, post results. (Try not to be too nasty and no death treats, svp.)3

1 About a dozen globes gathered by a local interior designer:

-Sm. metal T[errestrial] globe (5"?) on tin stand, by the CHAD VALLEY CO., HARBORNE, ENGL.
-Similar T globe, manufactured under the name, THORNE'S, LEEDS, ENGL., dated 1955 under the stand.
-c. 2" metal T globe on a red plastic, pencil-sharpener base
-c. 32" teacher's blackboard globe: The prof who taught the second half of my Earth & Atmospheric Sciences course had one of these, although I don't recall him using it. (He may have. I did a lot of his portion from the textbook.) I think the idea is that you can draw jet streams and pressure systems on it.
-12" Inter-war T globe with Italian Somalia.
-c. 5" globe on a deskset base. Hand assembled from printed gores on stiff paper.
-3 or 4 other non-descript Replogle and Cram's T models, incl. one fairly modern (post - 1989) light-up.

2 My title. 12" manuscript globe - black and coloured [highlighter?] felt marker on white paint over over a Replogle / Cram's globe. See scratches near Florida and Indonesia. The blue colour is the underlaying ocean. I'm told the maker is from BC, Canada. I think the most modern reference on the globe is to Sicily, as "Home of the Sopranos." (See Africa) There is little or no mention of Iraq or Afghanistan (see Hawaii), nor 911, so I'm guessing late 2000 to late 2001, at least for the composition.

3 I was looking for info on the chalkboard globe and found this link for making your own Idea GlobeTM or Polar Chalk Board. An "open source globe technology!"

Rewritten from an entry of 10/20/2007.

Reflections on "A Dangerous Voyage."

Last summer (2008), Bruce Peel Special Collections marked the University of Alberta's centennial and the International Polar Year with, "an exhibition of books and maps documenting four centuries of exploration in search of a northwest passage."1 A Most Dangerous Voyage2 was on until August and, despite being wholly ignorant of any details of the subject, I popped in, late July, to see the maps. 

I recognised the Polar Projection from the Gentlemen's Magazine the second I came in the door.RamusioRamusio

The earliest map in the exhibit was Ramusio's western hemisphere of 1565, which includes information from the voyages of Jacques Cartier. "The double-page woodcut map of the western hemisphere is the most complete of its time" and is bound into the third volume of Navigationi et viaggi. Bruce Peel holds the second edition of a set which "is the bedrock work for any significant collection of world voyages and exploration." (p. 17)

Two subtly different maps by Herman Moll touched on the northeast passage. In a powerful example of the map as textual argument, "This Draught of the North Pole..." has no less than three depictions of Nova Zemlya. The lower rThis Draught...This Draught...Main mapMain mapight inset, baMoll - LRMoll - LRMoll - UCMoll - UCMoll & BowlesMoll & Bowlessed on Russian sources, shows it as a peninsula, though Moll includes reasons why, "we dare not fully depend upon the truth of it."3 The upper centre inset shows only a western coastline. Below, on the main map, he has drawn in a complete island. On "A True Map of the North Pole..." Moll again shows an island, this time with a less elongated northeastern tip. I'm fairly sure that one of these two maps used to hang in the inner sanctum of the UAB History & Classics Department Office.

A large polar projection by Emmanuel Bowen dominated the second case. Somehow I missed a decent photo of the whole map. Textual notes mention the many voyages of Christopher Middleton and Francis Smith. The cartouche title is below, along with the rather Ptolemaic-looking map from Dobbs', An Account ofthe Countries adjoining to Hudson's Bay,... (1744). Dobbs "accused Middleton of falsifying his records and taking a bribe from the Hudson's Bay Company." The map from Dobbs' An Account... shows his mistaken conviction that "a passage could be found from the northwest angle of Hudson's Bay."(p. 20) Two shots of a 10"? desk globe by Cary (1845) and one of Barrington's The Possibility of Case 2Case 2Bowen titleBowen titleDobbsDobbsCary globeCary globeReacGlobe titleGlobe titlehiBarringtonBarringtonng the North Pole Asserted. (1818) round out my photos of the maps. I have to admit that after I had poured over these, my interest dropped off a bit.

I politely looked at the title pages and the pictures, some of which were truly stunning. Bruce Peel's German first edition of Kotzebue's, Entdeckungs-Reise in die Sud-See und nach der Berings-Strasse... (1821) "includes a suite of hand-coloured butterfly specimens." (p. 43) The aquatint portraits of several Inuit are really very striking, as are those by Choris. Other images, of ships rigged out for a ChorisChoris KotzebueKotzebueParry & RossParry & Rosswinter in the ice with their gangways and decks covered over by tarpaulin tents, have stayed with me. One of thosethings that seems obvious, once you've seen it. I'm still not quite sure what to make of the image of Ross and Parry greeting the Inuit - it's almost a cartoon and seems too stylized to hold much accuracy.

I dawdled over the globe, took up Jeannine and Rob's time telling them map stories, snapped some photos, and took off. I went back a few days later to grab a catalogue and I'm really glad I did.

It was only after I had some time to go over the catalogue and compare it with a couple of timelines on the net, that I began to realize what a remarkable exhibit I had seen. As I say, I'm pretty sketchy on the NW Passage - a few of the broader trends but thin on details. However, after pulling one chronology and comparing it with the catalogue, I found that Bruce Peel had displayed a first-hand, contemporary account from almost every British ship to sail in the region (and return) between 1741 and and 1850. Often they are by principal players (Hearne. Ross, Beechey, Kane) and there are multiple accounts from several voyages. In total, they seem to offer a fairly comprehensive list of the most important publications.

Too bad I was so focused on the maps. Once I merged a chronology with the catalogue (here), it was pretty obvious that the show was about the books.

1 Green, Jeanine M. and Robert J. Desmarais. A Most Dangerous Voyage: an exhibition of books and maps documenting four centuries of explorations in search of the northwest passage.   Linda Distad, ed. (Edmonton: U. of Alberta Library, 2008) 96p. soft cover, illus. ISBN 978-1-55195-203-1 All quotes and page numbers are from the catalogue, unless otherwise noted. Catalogues are available from Bruce Peel Special Collections through: bpsc@library.ualberta.ca

2 http://www.library.ualberta.ca/specialcollections/exhibits/voyage.html

3 The b/w inset maps are from a copy which recently sold on eBay.

See also http://www.library.ualberta.ca/specialcollections/steele/index.cfm for news of UAB's recent acquisition of the papers of Sir Sam Steele. Support your local library, s.v.p.

Strip Maps and the CAA / Triple-A

Westworld, the Alberta Motor Association's members' magazine, kindly took a short article of mine linking Ogilby's strip maps with those little route maps you can get as a CAA / AAA member. They've put it online: http://www.ama.ab.ca/cps/rde/xchg/ama/web/membership_AAY-Feb07-Main-Teaser-Page-7372.htm#Article7322  (Note: The map in the article is by Thomas Gardener, not by Ogilby. It follows many of his conventions.)

As usual, things cropped up which were cut. I discovered that strange family of measurements: furlongs, firkin, fortnights, and fathoms.1 There was also the obsolete origin of the word 'turnpike': "A n. I1 Hist. A spiked barrier fixed in or across a road or passage, as a defence against sudden attack. LME."2 I got the impression that this was also done to block optional routes, keeping traffic on the main roads.

1See also the Wiki pages about the FFF system and other unusual units.                                                     

2NSOED. Vol. 2. Lesley Brown, ed. (Oxford:Clarendon P., 1993) p. 3428, col. III - 3429, col. I.

Sketch-map of Montenegro, Albania, and Novibazar. 1894

When I was a first-year History student I did a paper on the origins of the Great War. Talk about lost in the woods. Reading far more than I needed to, I found that the preceding Balkan Wars had been largely centered around the Sanjak of Novibazar. A sanjak was an administrative district of the Ottoman Empire and, as they withdrew, others began to eye the property.

The Treaty of Berlin (1878) had redrawn the borders of the Balkans, granting independence to Montenegro and Serbia, while allowing Austria-Hungary to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina.The Austrians didn't really want the Sanjak and, although they garrisoned troops there, the administration of the region remained under the Turks. This was the state of affairs in 1894, when W.H. Cozens-Hardy published a paper on the area in The Geographic Journal.1

Cozens-Hardy had recently toured the Sanjak and he presents his experiences in the somewhat pompous style one expects of the Victorian traveller. He is unimpressed with the terrain, especially once he gets away from the coast. He relates a local tale that when God was making the world, he carried the rocks in a sack on his back. When He was over Montenegro, "the sack broke."

At the time C- H toured the area, travel was dangerous due to the power vaccum, ethnic and religious hatreds, and local suspicions that any Western Europeans in the area were there to redraw the borders . Despite a Turkish military escort in the Sanjak, he never made it into Albania. Camping near the frontier, he was warned by his escort to move his tent off the crest of a hill. They said it was too tempting a target for the Albanians across the river. C-H notes that "[t]he proper method, it is said, of using a tent in Albania, is to pitch it, and then sleep under a tree a hundred yards away. The tent, and not its owner, is bullet-riddled in the morning." (p. 393)

The accompanying map is 30 x 39.5 cm, with a scale of 1:600,000 or 1" = 9.5 miles. "This is a sketch-map based on P.A. Rovinsky's map of Montenegro, with additions, and corrections as regards the boundaries, by C.H. Cozens-Hardy. The hill work has been filled in from other sources." (p. 407)


1Cozens-Hardy, W.H. "Montenegro and Its Borderlands." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov., 1894): 385 - 405.
_____. "Montenegro and Its Borderlands: Discussion." The Geographical Journal. Vol. 4, no. 5 (Nov., 1894): 405 - 407.

My New Camera

I finally got a new camera, the Canon PowerShot Elph AD 750. It's my first digital camera and, so far, I'm really happy with it - video modes and an ISO 1600 setting.

I bought it for the digital macro mode though -- it takes deadly-crisp close-ups. This is important so that I can shoot really big stuff that won't fit my scanner, as well as catch the little details on maps in books. And the librarians tell me I can use it in the rare book room!

Cartographic Comedy

I've just discovered a site devoted to one of my favorite childhood TV shows, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. The show starred Billy Van in a variety of roles: The Count, Grizelda, Bwana Clyde Batty, etc. This is a real gem for those Canadians who are old enough to remember when Saturday morning programmes weren't simply a merchandising vehicle. Billy Van also worked on a comedy record of Canadian history, Canada Observed, from which I've pulled the following track. Enjoy! Mapmaker, Mapmaker, Make Me a Map!1

1Canada Observed by Chris Beard. Featuring Billy Van, Al Hamel, Vanda King, Bonnie Brooks, and June Sampson
Capitol Records 6221 Stereo ©1967

Drawing circles on the earth

One reason the mapfetish and I get along so well together is that it suits my tangential nature. I've been poking around on the net for info about compass roses and I came across the most amazing WIkipedia image. On the north end of the lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base is the world's largest compass rose.

I haven't been able to find anything on its origins - when, why, etc. NASA says the image is "painted"(1)(1) on the lake bed. Today it's used as a reference point for aviators and Shuttle pilots to check their compasses. The buildings on the left make up the Dryden Flight Research Center, where the X planes were flown. (dropped?) The current Google Earth image shows the modified Boeing 747 STA (parked by the 0 in 270) that flies the Shuttle back to Florida when it can't land at Kennedy Space Center.

A few weeks ago I was playing with Google Earth and another perfect circle grabbed my attention, this time in Kazakstan. Google Earth shows provincial borders in grey and, obviously, you can't see them from above. So, I imagine that, when some Soviet administrator decided to keep it simple and used a protractor to draw a security cordon around a secret facility, he had no idea that it would make the place stick out like a sore thumb. The perfectly circular border lays out the district of Baikonur (a.k.a. Tyuratam) - home of the former Soviet Union's 'Cape Kennedy.' It's from there that the U.S.S.R. launched Soyuz, MIR, and earlier missions. Today, Russia launches the flights that keep the International Space Station alive through an agreement with Kazakstan. Gary Powers was following rail lines as part of a systematic C.I.A. / Air Force search for Baikonur when he was shot down.2 Launch sites old and new dot the northern half of the province. Anyone care to venture a guess as to why the ground is orange in so many spots?

1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Jfader_dryden.jpg     2http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyuratam 

Dryden Flight Centre http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/news/FactSheets/FS-001-DFRC.html

Zoomable Baikonur map http://www.russianspaceweb.com/baikonur.html

Baikonur history http://www.russianspaceweb.com/baikonur_origin.html  

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