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Stock# 38346
Description

A fine example of Cook & Holland's chat of the St. Lawrence River - widely considered to be the single most historically important sea chart in Canadian History.

Capt. James Cook's first major published chart; the most important for the gulf and river St. Lawrence of the 18th century. It was the "standard guide not merely for the Navy, but for [generations of] seamen using the great waterway" -- Beaglehole. This first state was separately-issued, which accounts for its rarity. Later states (with an additional inset) appeared in editions of Sayer & Bennett's North American Pilot. Most famous for his landmark Pacific explorations, Cook began his career in Canada with the British Navy during the French & Indian War. As master of the frigate Pembroke, he became interested in military surveying and asked Samuel Holland, the future Surveyor General of the Northern British Provinces, to instruct him in the art. In the autumn of 1758 Cook conducted his first surveys of Gaspe and Chaleurs bays. Cook and Holland began compiling this chart of the Gulf and River St. Lawrence from existing French and British materials while in winter quarters at Halifax, 1758-1759.

The chart was intended for use by the fleet under Admiral Saunders when it moved from Halifax to attack Quebec in May 1759 and fair copies were in circulation at that time. Further important corrections were made during the voyage up the river and afterward, it was found that the existing French charts gave little accurate information about soundings, shoals, or channels. When the British fleet finally anchored before Quebec, the French commander Montcalm is said to have remarked sarcastically that there was now hope of having a good chart of the river "next year". When Saunders left Quebec for England in October 1759, he carried a copy of Cook and Holland's chart, which the Admiralty sent to Thomas Jefferys for engraving and publication. Comparison of the printed chart with several manuscripts of the river in Cook's hand suggest that the pattern for the printed map was largely, if not entirely, the work of Cook.

Jefferys added Cook's manuscript of Gaspe Bay as an inset. It may well precede Mount & Page's separate issue of that survey, which can only be documented to have been published by 1762. As a result of the brilliance and success of his large-scale chart of the St. Lawrence, Cook was ordered by the Admiralty in 1763 to conduct a survey of Newfoundland which Skelton and Tooley hold was "unequalled, for thoroughness and method, by any previous hydrographic work by Englishmen."

This first state was separately-issued, which accounts for its rarity. Later states (with an additional inset) appeared in editions of Sayer & Bennett's North American Pilot (first issued, 1775).

Condition Description
Copper engraved sea chart on 12 sheets, joined into 3 sections.
Reference
Skelton and Tooley, “The Marine Surveys of James Cook in North America 1758-1768”, The Mapping of America, pp. 173-206 (no.***).