Historic Cartography

Historical Maps of Nova ScotiaMaps convey geographic information about places and help us to better understand topography,  environment, culture and more.

Cartography is the art and science of making maps is an old profession that has been practiced since ancient Babylonia times. Back them, most maps were created for navigation purposes and to help depict territorial regions.

Canada is a relative young country (when compared to others) and thus experienced many years of European exploration that resulted in the creation of many maps that tried to show part of the world that had not been mapped before.

The “Historic Cartography” section of our site was created to explore the many great sources of vintage cartography in Canada. From detailed hand drawn maps by early explorers whom created and documented some of the earliest spatial representations of Canada to maps that focus on nature, the north, and our people.


Explore nearly 150 years of Kingston History using Maps and Aerial Images

The Snapshot Kingston online mapping application allows people to explore nearly 150 years of Kingston History using Maps and Aerial Images, simply …

Vancouver Historic Maps and Plans

The City of Vancouver Archives contains over 4000 Vancouver historic maps and plans that have been repaired, restored, scanned, and made freely available to the public to use. The collection is …

Historic Maps of Prince Edward Island

Some of the scanned Historic Maps of Prince Edward Island that you can download include …

1895 Ottawa Panoramic Map

This 1895 Ottawa panoramic map provides viewers an oblique aerial view in a south direction from the east looking west up the Ottawa river. It contains detailed sketches of several principal business buildings at that time, that are displayed around the edges of the map. You also get a look at the transit rail system and a view of Parliament Hill before the big fire in 1916. Find out how to get a high resolution copy of this historic map ….

1898 Vancouver Panoramic Map

The 1898 Vancouver Panoramic Map provides an oblique look at the City of Vancouver looking from the north. There are also pictorial representations of buildings, industrial activity, various boats and vegetation. Streets, names of buildings and businesses are labeled, as well as the locations of the City foundry, machine works and more. Check out this historic look at Vancouver …

History of Canada in 10 Maps

A History of Canada in 10 Maps consists of several fascinating stories behind some of the people and maps that helped define Canada.

Historical Maps of Nova Scotia

The Province of Nova Scotia provides online access to a variety of maps and survey plans from historic map collections, find out how you can download some of these historic maps of Nova Scotia …

Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison tool

An online mapping tool of Toronto has been providing users the ability to compare locations in Toronto through various periods of time from 2013 back to 1818. Check out this neat online mapping application that helps promote historic maps of Toronto …

Dr. Walter W. Ristow Prize (History of Cartography)

The 2016 essay competition for the Dr. Walter W. Ristow Prize is now accepting applicants.

Dr. Walter W. Ristow Prize (History of Cartography)

The Dr. Walter W. Ristow Prize is awarded annually by the Washington Map Society, to help recognize academic achievement in the History of Cartography. It honors the legacy of the late Dr. Walter W. Ristow, former chief of the Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress, and co-founder and first president of the Washington Map Society.

Portolan - Dr. Walter W. Ristow Prize (History of Cartography)This competition is open to all full or part-time undergraduate, graduate, and first year post-doctoral students attending accredited colleges and universities anywhere in the world.

Several Past Ristow Prize winners and Honorable Mentions have come from outside the United States.

Research papers must be related to the history of cartography. Merely using maps to relate an episode in history is not sufficient, unless the maps date from the period of the event, and/or disclose new information about that event, and/or the study of those maps constitutes a major focus of the paper.

The winner of the Ristow prize will receive:

  • $1000 (USd)
  • a 1 year membership in the Washington Map Society
  • publication of the History of Cartography paper in The Portolan-Journal of the Washington Map Society
  • 6 copies of The Portolan in which the paper will be printed

Submissions are due June 1, 2016, and should be sent to Dr. Evelyn Edson, 268 Springtree Lane, Scottsville, VA 24590, U.S.A.

For details, contest criteria and other useful information visit the Ristow Prize contest page: http://www.washmapsociety.org/Ristow-Prize.htm or send inquiries to eedson@pvcc.edu

Fortress of Louisburg Maps

Recently we purchased some old maps at a yard sale, and one of the old map books contained a tattered map featuring the Fortress of Louisbourg that we scanned, cleaned up in photo-shop and then reproduced. While searching for the date and source of our map print we also noticed that there have been several old Fortress of Louisbourg maps created and have included a few the links here to share with others …