Historical Atlas of Canada: From the beginning to 1800

Front Cover
University of Toronto Press, Jan 1, 1987 - History - 198 pages

A uniquely beautiful record of Canada's early development, this volume of the Historical Atlas of Canada explores the relationship between what is now Canada and its people, from the earliest evidence of human habitation to the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The early traces date back some 12000 years. From this starting point at the end of the late Wisconsinan glacial maximum, the atlas provides an unprecedented outline of Canadian prehistory and the early historic period. The first 18 remarkable maps describe the settlements, cultural development, agriculture, and economic systems of the Indian and Inuit peoples of Canada and their predecessors.

The volume goes on to illuminate the social and economic impact of European exploitation, trade, and settlements, looking in detail at relations between Europeans and native peoples. Richly detailed plates describe the movements of the new arrivals, the fisheries around Newfoundland and in the Gulf of St Lawrence, the French colonization in Acadia and the St Lawrence valley, the development of agriculture, the growth of towns, the expansion of the fur trade, and its impact on the various native nations and on the West generally.

Unlike most historical atlases, which focus on geopolitical events and their territorial consequences, this volume of the Historical Atlas of Canada and its two companion volumes emphasize the circumstances of ordinary life. Much attention is paid to the small agricultural settlements and early towns in which Canadians lived during this period. Large-scale maps show individual settlements; small-scale maps explain how the patterns of distribution and trade shaped the growth of these settlements and, in turn, of Canada.

An extraordinarily rich picture of our past emerges from the combination of text and graphic material in this volume, an illustration of Canada's early development that no other document has ever offered. With the other two volumes of the atlas, it presents a splendid visual record of the roots of our society and the evolution of the intensely regional, culturally diverse nation we know today.


What people are saying - Write a review

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Absolutely the best and most detailed historical account of early Canada and the fur trade I have ever seen. The accuracy of the Church's involvement and the alliances with an astounding number of aboriginal groups is astounding. I would guess that Mr. Matthews has spent most of his life researching and fact-checking this amazing book.
Rick Rolland


Arthur Roberts J H McAndrews Palaeobotany CULTURAL SEQUENCES 1000 BCAD 500
J H McAndrews K B Liu G C Manville Palaeobotany J V Wright

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1987)

GEOFFREY J. MATTHEWS was Chief Cartographer at the University of Toronto for more than thirty years, until his retirement in 1993. He was cartographer for twenty previous atlases, including all three volumes of the Historical Atlas of Canada.

Bibliographic information