Manitoba Historical Maps

“Maps are the graphic records of the influence which geography has exerted upon the course of history, of the progress of exploration and settlement, of the evolution of present day political boundaries; and not rarely they contribute new knowledge where other records are wanting and settle questions which without them would remain in doubt.” – W.F. Ganong, 1897

Manitoba is a Canadian prairie province with an area of 649,950 square kilometres. The Nonsuch Ship sailed into Hudson Bay in 1668–1669, becoming the first trading voyage to reach the area, so we can see there are almost 350 years of cartographic history around Manitoba. It is remarkable the research and documentation work made to have this collection of thousand-plus maps of Manitoba in the Manitoba Historical Maps Flickr account.

The rich geography of Manitoba includes mountains, rivers and lakes, by the way, the province has the longest saltwater coastline bordering Hudson Bay and contains over 110,000 lakes. That’s why we consider that this page is an important and valuable resource of information. We can read at wikipedia:

The large rivers that flow into the east side of Lake Winnipeg’s basin are pristine and largely undeveloped. Many uninhabited islands can be found along the lake’s shores. Many of these originate in the Canadian Shield in neighbouring Ontario. These areas have only been used as native fishing, hunting, and gathering grounds for thousands of years. Some traditional land use areas of the east side of Lake Winnipeg are a proposed United Nations World Heritage Site, with the approval of their First Nations communities.

The Red River Settlement [1987]

A Copy of a Map Presented to the Congress by Peter Pond [1890]

All the maps in the photostream have a complete description of their origins and source and it’s interesting to note that the archive doesn’t include only traditional maps. It has a complete set of aerial views, scans from old books, and also handmade drawings dated from the 60’s and 70’s. In the early 20th Century, Winnipeg was the third largest city in Canada and it grew quickly around the turn of the century, with outside investors and immigrants contributing to its success. All these urban changes are reflected in these maps and views:

Winnipeg [ca. 1955]

Ice Sculpture in Central Park [1969]

Winnipeg Looking North from Near Upper Fort Garry 1870 [1972]

University of Manitoba Looking North East, March 25, 1975, Winnipeg [1975]

Cartography is an old science. One of the earliest maps of North America is from 1698 by Nicolas de Fer. Now, technology is continually changing in order to meet the demands of new generations of mapmakers and map users; tools like data visualization are updated almost daily and are the new evolution of all the history behind these maps, that we see as a complete tool to understand the way cities behave, not only in their urban sense, but also in a sociological, cultural and political way.

Greater Winnipeg Present Transit Time Zones [1946]

Winnipeg Urban Design – Downtown Street Vehicles and Pedestrians [1966]

“We say the map is different from the territory. But what is the territory? Operationally, somebody went out with a retina or a measuring stick and made representations which were then put on paper. What is on the paper map is a representation of what was in the retinal representation of the man who made the map; and as you push the question back, what you find is an infinite regress, an infinite series of maps. The territory never gets in at all. […] Always, the process of representation will filter it out so that the mental world is only maps of maps, ad infinitum.”
– Gregory Bateson, “Form, Substance and Difference,” (1970) in Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972).


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