In 1971-72 Dr. William Howard Pugsley, donated his collection of early Canadian maps that he had collected during the late 1930s and World War II. Download digital scans of these 50 early Canadian historical maps published between 1556 to 1857 that help explain the discovery and exploration of early North America.
Maps 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.
If you are looking for Manitoba Historical Maps then you will want to check out the 1000+ maps of Winnipeg, Brandon and other regions of Manitoba that are now scanned and available online.
Historical Maps can be a great resource to help people learn more about certain geography at a particular point in time, help locate where our ancestors lived, or help us understand how a neighborhood or surrounding area changed over time. Because older maps were created by hand, they tend to be more artistic and visually appealing and thus can be attention grabbers.
Historical Maps have existed in libraries & various personal collections for years but thanks to advancement in digital technology and the internet, we have started to see more old maps being shared in the geospatial community.
The Historical Maps of Toronto blog created by historical maps enthusiast Nathan Ng provides simple and free access to a large selection of notable historical maps of the Toronto area that have been scanned from collections at the Toronto Library and the Toronto archives. He started the site as a way to generate more curiosity for geography, and as a way to provide an easy entry point for people to discovery and further investigate historical cartography.
Maps on the site generally have public domain status (except where otherwise noted) and can be downloaded, printed and shared.
Some of the maps in the collection include:
- 1787-1805 Plan of the Toronto Purchase
- 1788 Mann Plan of Torento Harbour with the proposed Town and part of the Settlement
- 1791 Jones An Accurate Plan of a Survey of the River Trent, North [Shore] of Lake Ontario to Toronto
- 1792 Bouchette Plan of Toronto Harbour
- 1793 Aitken Plan of York Harbour Surveyed by order of Lt. Gov. Simcoe
- 1797 Smith Plan for the enlargement of York
- 1801 Elmsley: Sketch of a Part of the Town of York
- 1802 Chewett Plan of 916 1/4 acres, in the Township of York in Upper Canada—property of the Honble. D.W. Smith
- 1811 Wilmot Plan Shewing the Survey of the land Reserved for Government Buildings, East end of the Town of York
- 1817 Smith Plan of York, U.C.
- 1818 Phillpotts Plan of York
- 1834 Chewett Plan of the City of Toronto and Liberties
- 1834 Alpheus Todd Engraved Plan of the City of Toronto
- 1836 Lynn: Plan of Building Lots in Toronto the Property of the Hon. Peter McGill
- 1837 Hawkins: Toronto Military Reserve [Feb. 1837]
- 1842 Cane Topographical Plan of the City and Liberties of Toronto
- 1870 Canadian Railway News Bird’s Eye View of Toronto
- 1876 Gascard City of Toronto Bird’s Eye View from the Northern Railway Elevator
- 1886 Wesbroom: City of Toronto [Bird’s Eye View]
- 1892 Toronto Railway Company Map Shewing Toronto Street Railway Lines
Plus many more, click here for a full list of Historical Maps of Toronto maps available
Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison tool
Are you a resident of the Greater Toronto area and want to know what your community looked like 50 years ago?
Well Nathan Ng has also taken his blog a step further by teaming up with Esri to create the Online Toronto Historic Maps comparison tool. This free web application provides people with the ability to compare different places in Toronto through time from 2013 back to 1818.
Historical paper maps from the Toronto Library and the Toronto archives were scanned, georeferenced, mosaiked and then combined so that people could compare them with one another using a simple easy to use interface that anyone could use.
Old Man River Dam in 1949-51 (left) and 2013 (right)
Alberta Historical Orthophotos
Historical Orthophotos of Alberta contains georeferenced orthophoto maps consisting of aerial photography mainly from 1949 to 1951 with coverage for the whole province. It also contains various maps created with photos from 1961 to 1963. Each of the original maps covers a 1:50,000 NTS sheet at a scale of 1:63,360.
To download the georeferenced orthophoto maps you will need to use FTP software such as FileZilla (available free online). Metadata Download: http://www.abmi.ca/home/publications/351-400/376.html
Ftp server: ftp.public.abmi.ca
user name: web|anonymous
Bird’s-eye view of Victoria
Today we wanted to share an image that has been posted all over the internet lately, it is a bird’s-eye perspective view image of Victoria, British Columbia illustrated by E. S. Glover, A.L. Bancroft and Co., and published by M.W. Waitt & Co. in 1878. In 1871, British Columbia joined Canada and the population of Victoria was around 7900 but dropped to less then 6000 around the time the image was published economic decline. These days the population of Victoria is over 78,000.
Post Update: Had a few people send us a link to the image below, same Bird’s-eye view of Victoria lithograph image but the scan is much better.
[Images sources: above: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division and the version below: Toronto Public Library]
The Saint John Historical Maps collection includes an interactive atlas from 1875, compiled from official hand drawn plans and surveys. You will also find an interactive map of Historic Coastline and Fortifications and scanned copies of Murdoch-Lingley Survey Plans from 1920. Find out how you can download and use maps and images from the Saint John Historical Maps collection …
A collection of historical maps and plans of Fredericton, New Brunswick are freely available to the general public.They have been georeferenced so that they can be visualized with various mapping applications (Google maps, Bing maps, Google Earth, ArcGIS etc.), includes metadata and tools for searching have been incorporated.
Canada is certainly not an old country when compared to many others like France or the UK but it has been around long enough to have some very interesting history.
Here are some historic aerial images of major cities in Canada. It is interesting when you compare some of these with modern maps and aerial images, as then you can get a real appreciation on what urban sprawl looks like and how cities develop and spread over time.
The Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (ACMLA) provide a service where you can obtain your own colour printed reproduction of any of the listed images below [note: the images that the links below point to are actually only thumbnails of the actual images that they repoduce]. Maps ordered are printed on acid free 70 lb paper with a size of about 55 X 70 cm. For more information about how to order historic map prints go to the ACMLA site
Calgary, Alberta  Dawson City  Halifax, Nova Scotia  Hamilton, Ontario  London, Ontario  Montréal, Québec  Ottawa, Ontario  Ottawa, Ontario  Québec City, Québec  St. John’s, Newfoundland  Toronto, Ontario  Vancouver, British Columbia  Waterloo, Ontario [189?] Winnipeg, Manitoba 
Also remember to check back to the new Historic Cartography section as more content is added weekly.
[image source: acmla.org]
I recently returned from giving a presentation at Carto2013; an annual Canadian cartographic themed conference that was held at the University of Alberta co-hosted by the Canadian Cartographic Association (CCA) & the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives (ACMLA).
One of the key themes evident at the conference was related to history of cartography and history through maps”, a topic that many of the presentations were related to and several of these talks were about 1826 maps of Northwestern North America created by David Thompson. I myself have never really had much interest in history however these presentations provided me with a much different perspective on history and maybe I have found myself a new (or old??) to explore. Yesterday while searching for some Canadian maps with my daughter I stumbled across yet some more historic themed cartography, so I thought perhaps we should start a new section on CanadianGIS.com related to Historic Cartography since it is pretty evident that this is becoming topic of interest to many in the Canadian Geomatics community.
Find out more about Canadian Geographic Maps & Thompson’s 1826 Map of Northwestern North America …
Today we have a scan of a Vancouver Mission (British Columbia) Route Map taken from The Automobile Blue Book published in 1917.