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Guillaume DE L’ISLE. Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France...1703

Guillaume DE L’ISLE. Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France...1703

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DE L’ISLE, Guillaume (1675-1726)

Carte du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France et des Descouveres qui y ont ete faits...1703

Copper plate engraving with original color

First edition, second issue (Tooley 35A)

Paris: 1703



The definitive map of Canada and the French empire in North America near the end of the reign of Louis XIV. Peace was made between the French and the Iroquois two years earlier, expanding French influence throughout the continent and increasing competition with the British.

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Louis XIV's seventy-two-year reign saw a renewed French interest in North America. Many private concessions became the property of the crown, and increasing military and civilian resources were sent to establish a true rural economy and to protect the fur trade. Conflicts with Native American groups were fierce, especially with the powerful Haudenosaunee (called the "Iroquois" by the French, the "League of Five Nations" by the English). Finally in 1701, at the Great Peace of Montreal, French representatives and 1300 Native American tribes made a peace treaty. The Native Americans were given preferential trade rights and security guarantees, and they in turn agreed not to ally themselves with the English. This enabled the French to expand and solidify their interests in North America for the next fifty years, or until the French and Indian Wars.
Guillaume De Lisle was undoubtedly France's greatest cartographer and was the author of numerous foundational maps of North America. His 1703 map of Canada and New France greatly improved the cartography of the Great Lakes, Hudson's Bay, James Bay and northern Canada. It also broke new ground to the west, including an early reference to the Rocky Mountains, what may have been the Great Salt Lake, and a mythical "Long River" that purportedly connected the Mississippi with the far side of the Rockies. Much of this was conjectural, based on the often-questioned writings of Baron Lohanton, who explored the region in 1688 and wrote a book about his adventures. But such inaccuracies notwithstanding, De L'Isle's map was the finest map available as peace allowed French influence to expand through the region.
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