Exhibition Case 1
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Ramusio, Giovanni Battista, 1485-1557. Navigationi et viaggi. Venetia: Appresso Giunti, 1563-1606.
Giovanni Ramusio first published his collection of accounts of voyages around the world in 1556. This third volume, devoted to America, contains the first known printed account of Jacques Cartier's first and second voyages to North America. Cartier's account was published in English by Florio in 1580, and Marc Lescarbot was familiar with the French edition printed in 1598. Cartier had been sent to the new world 'to discover certain islands and lands where it is said that a great quantity of gold, and other precious things, are to be found.' On this first voyage he did not find gold, but traded furs with the natives. On July 6 1534 Cartier saw a number of natives on the shore at Baie de Chaleur who 'set up a great clamour and made frequent signs for us to come on shore, holding up to us some furs on sticks.' On the following day the French traded knives and other iron goods for the furs. Cartier was the first to survey the coasts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and in 1535 he discovered the St. Lawrence River, called for a century afterword, La Rivière de Canada; this was the route that carried future explorers into the heart of North America.
This map of New France was derived from the first printed map largely devoted to Canada, which had been printed in Ptolemy's Cosmographia in 1548. The details were based on the early accounts of Cabot. The deeply indented Newfoundland coast suggested to Cabot a group of large islands, and this belief was not corrected until the end of the century.
Wytfliet, Corneille. Histoire universelle des Indes, orientales et occidentales divisée en deux livres. Douay: F. Fabri, 1605.
This translation of Corneille Wytfliet's Descriptionis Ptolemaicae, the first atlas devoted solely to the Americas, was first published in Louvain in 1597, and contains a brief account of French and English voyages to Canada. The atlas was designed to supplement the Ptolemaic atlases then in print, as they did not cover the western hemisphere. Wytfliet, an advocate and secretary to the Council of Brabant, was interested in the exploration and geography of the New World. His map of New France and Canada was derived almost completely from Mercator's world map published in 1569. It is one of the first printed maps to use the name 'Canada'.
Champlain, Samuel de, 1567-1635. Les voyages de la novvelle France occidentale, dicte Canada ... & toutes les descouuertes qu'il a faites en ce pais depuis l'an 1603 iusques en l'an 1629. Paris: P. Le-Mur, 1632.
Samuel de Champlain, geographer, ethnographer, map-maker, and indefatigable explorer of New France, recounted his travels in a series of volumes; the first, Des Sauvages appeared in 1603 and the last in 1632, Voyages de la Nouvelle-France, summarized his voyages from 1603-1629.
Champlain's maps and texts were based on his own explorations or from accounts by the many native tribes he encountered. By 1607 he had charted the Atlantic coastline from Cape Breton to south of Cap Blanc, explored Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, discovered a route from the St. Lawrence through to Lake Champlain to the Hudson River, and explored the Saguenay and St. Maurice Rivers. He was the first European to describe the Ottawa River and had travelled up to Lake Nipissing and on to Lakes Ontario and Huron. From the natives he learned of a series of great lakes to the west. Champlain linked exploration and the fur trade, and set up fur-trade relationships with the Montagnais, Algonkin and Huron tribes. His interests, however, extended beyond furs to the establishment of a prosperous, diversified economy.
Sanson, Nicolas, 1600-1667. L'Amérique, en plusieurs cartes novvelles, et exactes. Paris: L'Autheur, [ca. 1665].
Nicolas Sanson, the King's geographer, did not visit the new world but received cartographic reports from explorers and used them to draw his maps. Much of his information about New France came from the Jesuit Relations, the annual reports written by Jesuit missionaries, from 1632, of their work and travel, sent back to France and published. This map of 'Le Canada' was first engraved in 1656 and influenced much of the cartography of Canada for the rest of the century. The cartouche mentions that Sanson used Danish , Dutch, English and French sources in preparing the map. Much of the Great Lakes are shown; but since there was no reliable information about Lake Superior and Lake Michigan (Lac de Puans), these were left open. Native tribal names and locations were taken from the Jesuit Relations.
Du Creux, François, 1596?-1666. Historiae Canadensis: sev, Novae-Franciae libri decem, ad annum usque Christi MDCLVI. Paris: S. Cramoisy et S. Mabre-Cramoisy, 1664.
Du Creux entered the Jesuit order at the age of 18, in 1614, becoming a teacher and editor of several Greek and Latin grammars. He did not visit the New World but produced his great literary work, Historiae canadensis, covering the period 1625-1658, from the Jesuit Relations and other records, among them, Champlain's Voyages. Du Creux's map of New France relied heavily on that of Sanson, but he added more Indian tribal names and river systems, particularly in northern Quebec. The inset map of Huronia, also illustrated river systems leading from the St. Lawrence north to James Bay, and canoe routes used by the voyageurs trading for furs. The river named "Assinipoualacus" to the west is an indication of some knowledge of what eventually became Lake Winnipeg.
Hennepin, Louis 1626-c. 1705. Nouvelle découverte d'un très grand pays situé dans l'Amérique, entre le nouveau Mexique, et la Mer glaciale. Utrecht: Chez Guillaume Broedelet, 1697.
Louis Hennepin, a Recollet missionary, sailed for New France in 1675 on the same ship as Cavelier de La Salle, with three other Recollets, including Chrestien Le Clercq. In the colony the intendant, Talon, in an attempt to keep out the English, and promote the French fur trade encouraged a number of expeditions into the interior. LaSalle was sent to Illinois in 1679-80 and Hennepin accompanied the explorer as historian of the expedition, becoming the first European to describe Niagara Falls. He travelled up the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers and claimed untruthfully to have travelled all the way to the mouth of the Mississippi. Hennepin returned to Eruope to write his Nouvelle decouverte d'un tres grand pays. His Carte de la Nouvelle France incorporates information from the manuscript maps of Louis Jolliet and Jean-Baptiste Franquelin of their explorations in the Mississippi Valley and the region around Lake Superior.
Lahontan, Louis Armand de Lom d'Arce, 1666-1715? Nouveaux voyages de Mr le baron de Lahontan, dans l'Amérique septentrionale. A La Haye: Chez les frères l'Honoré ..., 1703.
In his nine years in New France, from 1683 to 1692, Lahontan travelled extensively, often hunting with natives. He was familiar with the territory around the north Mississippi, and claimed to have encountered a river flowing from the west which he called the 'La Rivière Longue'. His 4000-mile travels through the territory along this river in which he met such Indian tribes as the Eokoros, Essanapes and Gnacsitares are believed to be mostly imaginary. Having been charged with insubordination, Lahontan fled to Europe, hoping to sell information about western canoe routes to English military or trade interests, but the peace between England and France put an end to his hopes. Instead he wrote this account of his travels in Canada, a text that became extremely popular and was widely pirated. By 1758 twenty-five editions had appeared.
Lahontan 'embellished' his account of the geography of the Great Lakes region and, as one historian has remarked was 'remarkably inventive' in describing Indian tribe names and locations. This map of the Rivière Longue influenced a number of other cartographers. However, neither the river, nor the 'Gnacsitares' existed.
Charlevoix, Pierre-François-Xavier de 1682-1761. Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du roi dans l'Amèrique septentrionnale. Paris: Chez la veuve Ganeau, 1744.
While still a deacon in the Jesuit order Charlevoix was sent to Canada from 1705-1709 to teach grammar at the Jesuit College at Quebec. There he met a number of religious who had travelled extensively as missionaries. He returned in 1720 at the command of the regent, the Duc d'Orléans, to investigate rumours of the existence and location of a western sea between the New World and Asia, and to discover the possibilities of exploration of the territory. For the next two years, he was authorized to 'go up into the pays d'en haut with two canoes and eight voyageurs' and carefully survey French settlements and travel routes in America. From Quebec, Charlevoix travelled by canoe through the Great Lakes, using a compass and making notes on the coast lines and distances travelled. His observations and calculations helped Nicolas Bellin to publish more accurate maps of regions around the Great Lakes. Bellin incorporated information from Chaussegros de Lery, La Verendrye and Father Laure as well to produce a map that was used extensively and copied widely.
During his explorations of Lake Michigan Charlevoix heard from the Sioux of a 'great river that flows westward and empties into the southern sea'. Travelling down the Mississippi he arrived in New Orleans and from there sailed back to France. In his report to the crown he claimed the western sea was likely between 40 and 50 degrees latitude, and could most probably be found by travelling up the Missouri, whose source would not be far from the sea. From his observations of the country and from the Jesuit missionary accounts, he prepared the first general history of Canada from 1500 to 1737, as well as the first annotated bibliography of Canadiana. His text has been called one of most important journals of North American historical literature.