Very Rare Immigration Map of British Canada with Strong Political Implications

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243. [MAP]. BOUCHETTE, Joseph, Jun. [Joseph Bouchette, Sr. & James Wyld]. 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, Compiled from the latest & most approved Astronomical observations, Authorities & recent Surveys. Is with His Majesty’s most gracious & special Permission most humbly & gratefully dedicated by His Majesty’s most devoted & loyal subject, Joseph Bouchette Jun. Deputy Surveyor General of the Province of Lower Canada [below title at lower left above border] Engraved by J[ames] & C[harles] Walker, Bernard Street, Russel Square. [three sheets]: [West sheet] [upper left] The British Dominions in North America (shows the Pacific Coast from Cook’s inlet in Russian America <Alaska> to Port Trinidad in northern California, as far as the tip of Siberia, the North Pole, and Greenland, and east to Lake Erie and Fort Meig in Ohio),[upper right] Reference (keys to symbols for towns, boundaries, canals, etc., with an emphasis on the properties of the Canada Company), [outside neat line at right] London, Published 23rd. April 1831, by J. Wyld, Geographer to the King, Charing Cross; [Centre sheet] [upper left] Authorities Consulted in the Construction of this Map..., [below lower neat line at center] Published as the Act Directs by James Wyld, Geographer to the King Charing Cross London, May 2nd. 1831;[East sheet] [outside neat line at left] Published as the Act directs by James Wyld, Geographer to the King, Charing Cross, London May 2nd. 1831, [upper left, untitled scale of distance], [above lower inset, two profiles of] St. Pauls..., [large inset at lower right] The Gulf of St. Lawrence, shewing the Geographical position of the Principal Headlands, laid down from the most recent Astronomical Observations.... London: James Wyld, 1831. Copper-engraved map on three sheets with original outline hand coloring of boundaries, mounted on original cartographic linen, dissected into 16 sections per sheet (48 sections total), each sheet measures neat line to neat line approximately 97 x 64 cm; approximate overall dimension for the three together including green selvages: 101 x 197 cm; two original dark green paper panels on verso of each sheet with an engraved label on one, labels with ink manuscript designation (West, Centre, or East), engraved text within thick ornamental border: James Wyld Successor to Mr. Faden, Geographer to His Majesty. Charing Cross, opposite Northumberland House. Map folded to 25 x 16.8 cm into original board case covered with thin green moiré cloth (25.8 x 16.5 cm), engraved label on upper board identical to the labels on the three sheets of the map, but with inked title: “British Territy. in North America,” case with contemporary plain paper label on spine inked “Brit. N. America” (later library label and white call number on upper board, pencil note on label). The condition of the map is superb—fresh and bright—wanting in no regard other than very light age-toning to linen on verso. Each map sheet with unobtrusive blindstamp of Sondley Library. Small purple ink withdrawn stamp on linen backing on verso of each sheet. The fragile original case, a remarkable survival, is darkened and worn, with moderate to heavy staining, and some fraying of cloth at edges (some board exposed).

     First edition of a very rare immigration map of British Canada with strong political implications. The map was intended as a separate map to accompany (but apparently is never found with) Joseph Bouchette Sr.’s two-volume work, British Dominions in North America: Or, A Topographical and Statistical Description of the Provinces of Lower and Upper Canada... (London, 1831). Farrell, Explorations in the History of Canadian Mapping, pp. 157-158. Hasse, “The Northeastern Boundary, References to Selected Maps,” NYPL Bulletin, Vol. 4, p. 392. Phillips, America, p. 196. Royal Geographic Society, Journal (1856), Vol. 26, p. cxxxv. Rumsey 4436: “Joseph Bouchette Junior carried on his father’s work and this map is a worthy successor to the elder Bouchette’s 1815 map of Upper and Lower Canada. The scale is almost three times as large and the size of the map is doubled. A list of authorities is given, all Canadian, ending with ‘several important American Authorities’ (which are unnamed). Lands belonging to the Canada Company are shown. There is a great deal of detail in the U.S. portions of the map, and attention is paid to the Maine boundary dispute with a note—but only the British claim line is shown.” Thomson, Men and Meridians: The History of Surveying and Mapping in Canada, pp. 264-269. Winearls, Mapping Upper Canada 1780-1867 #85.

     This splendid map is little known, and the little that is known is usually—in the worst case—misleading, or—in the best case—murky. Virtually all cataloguing consulted attributes the map to Joseph Bouchette (1774-1841) [i.e. Senior, Surveyor General of the Province of Lower Canada], whereas the map itself states its maker is Joseph Bouchette Jr. (1800-1881), Deputy Surveyor General of the Province of Lower Canada. In the preface to his 1831 book The British Dominions in North America,Joseph Bouchette Sr. states on pages xiii-xiv:

The geographical map of the British provinces, and of a section of the adjacent states of the American union, accompanying the work, will, it is hoped, be found an interesting adjunct, from the scope of the country it embraces, as well as an account of the sources of information whence it was compiled. This map was constructed by the author’s eldest son, Joseph Bouchette, Esq., Deputy Surveyor-General of Lower Canada, and must, like the other maps, be left in a great measure to speak for itself. It is but justice to the compiler, however, to mention the extreme laboriousness with which, during three years, he attached himself to its construction, in the midst of active professional duties—the close investigation as to the correctness of documents that preceded their application, and the science with which he was capable of graphically applying the information these documents contained. To this gentleman the author is also indebted for his scientific aid in the compilation of several parts of the topographical maps.

In an accompanying footnote to the above text, Joseph Bouchette Sr. laments:

The following unanimous resolve of the house of assembly of Lower Canada is a testimony of the character of that work, which the author hopes he will be pardoned for inserting here: “Resolved, That an humble address be presented to his grace the governor-in-chief, representing the importance of the geographical and topographical maps of Joseph Bouchette, Esquire, Surveyor-General, and the losses he has sustained in publishing them; representing also the importance of those maps, both to his Majesty’s government and to the province at large; and praying his grace would be pleased to take the whole into consideration, and would also be pleased to indemnify him for his services and losses by such grant of the lands of the crown as his grace in his wisdom may think fit.

     Bouchette Sr. makes clear in his 1831 book that he intended a map of the British possessions in North America to accompany the book, but no such map is ever found with the book. The book is fairly common, but the present map is very rare. As late as the 1870s, Bouchette Sr.’s heirs were still pressing the claim to be compensated for his expenditures in the making of his books and maps. See, for instance, Origin and Character of the Claim of the Late Colonel Bouchette, Surveyor General, L.C. with introduction by Alexander Robertson (Montreal, 1872), where Bouchette’s claim is partially defended by the fact that “in those days of laborious engraving, when nothing cheaper than the copperplate was at hand to reproduce his maps in a creditable style, he felt that the task he had set for himself was too much for his means. Convinced of its utility to the country, if it were but accomplished, Colonel Bouchette, by the advice of some of the members petitioned the Legislature for aid to enable him to carry his design into effect” (p. 6). The claim was finally paid to Bouchette Sr.’s grandchildren in 1875.

     This handsome map engraved by the renowned J. & C. Walker firm presents excellent detail in Canada and the bordering states of the United States. The map is as much a strong political statement as a map. The provinces of Upper and Lower Canada were established in 1791 and, after many years of acrimonious turmoil, abolished in 1841 with the establishment of the single United Province of Canada. The Bouchette family’s maps and books treated Canada as a unit, and they got into hot water with the Francophile Canadians who saw them as too Anglocentric. Great Britain wanted a unified Canada to avoid the risk of another American Revolution and loss of more territory. Bouchette Jr.’s map shows the lands of the Canada Company, an emigration and land company chartered by the British Parliament in 1825 to colonize Upper Canada. Canada Company’s copious settlements are indicated on the map by an asterisk or a cross next to each name. The Company’s mismanagement and corruption, and its close alliance with the Tory elites was an important factor in the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837. Bouchette Jr.’s younger brother was expelled from Canada for his part in that movement. In his book Bouchette Sr. devotes chapter V (pp. 114-120) and several documents in the Appendices to warm endorsement of the Canada Company, its golden prospects, and statistics. See Claude Boudreau, L’analyse de la carte ancienne: essai méthodologique: carte du Bas-Canada de 1831 de Joseph Bouchette, Rapports et mémoires de recherche du CELAT, No. 7 (Quebec: Laval, 1986). Boudreau analyzes the strategic and political elements of Bouchette’s maps of Canada.

     Joseph Bouchette, Jr. (1800-1881?) is as little known as this map he created. When Bouchette Sr. travelled abroad in 1829, his son Joseph took over his duties for several years under the title of deputy surveyor general. Bouchette Jr. seems to have served as a filial right-hand man to his father for the remainder of his life. Bouchette Jr. married Margery Elspie Fraser on March 1, 1826 at St. Gabriel’s Presbyterian Church in Montreal. He also did art work and is credited with an 1839 view of the iron forges at St. Maurice (ID #10130, National Archives of Canada/C-4356). Reps, Views and Viewmakers of Urban America (3749) cites an 1831 view of Montreal (for image see Musée McCord Museum, #M199412).

     French-Canadian Bouchette Sr., surveyor, militia and naval officer in the War of 1812, warm promoter of Canadian immigration, author, and artist, was one of the remarkable Canadians of his period. “In addition to completely reorganizing surveying and cartographic services in Lower Canada, he published works that demonstrate his artistic and scientific talents” (Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online). At age fourteen he commenced surveying activities, and in 1795 he began making significant maps, the inauguration of a long, distinguished career creating maps that were essential to Canadian immigration, boundary work, land ownership, military affairs, roads, and coastal knowledge. In 1804 he was appointed to the office of Surveyor General of Canada. In 1807 he travelled to London to urge British authorities to establish the exact boundary between Lower Canada and the United States. The last three decades of his life were crowded with the promotion of Canada, boundary arbitration, land speculation, a rather tormented publishing program of books and maps, official duties, and a great deal of political activity. Unfortunately, he came to be regarded by Canadians as someone who had sold out to the English.


Sold. Hammer: $10,000.00; Price Realized: $12,250.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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