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Canada at Scale: Maps of our History

at the National Archives of Canada, 395 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Ontario, until February 21, 2000

"There will come an age in the far-off years when Ocean shall unloose the bonds of things, and disclose new worlds..."

Cartographers of 500 years ago often cited this passage by the philosopher Seneca (4 BC - 65 AD). In the 1400s, this prophecy became reality when the Old World encountered the New World.

Over the following centuries, the map of the Americas and of Canada — "a country as dependent as Canada upon the arts of surveying and mapping" (Don W. Thomson, Men and Meridians) — evolved rapidly. The evolution was such that Canada eventually produced maps in the 1800s that were technically equal to those made elsewhere. Canada continues to innovate in this field.

The maps in this exhibition reflect the evolution of cartography in our country: Aboriginal peoples, European colonial powers, Canadians, governments, private industry and academics all produced precious maps. Although some are less appealing aesthetically, they nevertheless are significant as testimonies to the beginning of map printing in this country. From the astrolabe to computers, the history of our country and evolution in technology are laid out before us. They are on the scale of human will and dreams.

Also of interest

The National Atlas of Canada presented by Natural Resources Canada.

We also gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose Canadian Cultural Online Program (CCOP) made this work possible.

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