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William Sax's Annotated Copy of His 1829 Map of the St. Lawrence River and Waterway

Rare lithographic map of the course of the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River from Lake Ontario to the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Labrador Coast, lithographed by Victor Laurent Prosper Desobry in New York City, under the direction of William Sax, Provincial Surveyor of Lower Canada.

Likely published for official use by the Provincial Government, this example of the map is heavily annotated in the hand of its maker, William Sax, providing extensive information on the funding and construction of roads, with extensive notes on the location and cost of each road shown.

Below the St. John's River, the map notes "Territory in Dispute Betwene The British & American Governments."

Gagnon refers to the map as "Magnificent." Sax was a provincial land surveyor in Lower Canada under Joseph Bouchette, and conducted surveys and published maps of the Eastern Townships, St. Francis River and the Saguenay River, as well as this map of the St. Lawrence River.

The map includes two lengthy notes in red and black in the hand of the map maker William Sax, noting:

The Space Coloured Yellow in its entire Extent on both sides of the St. Lawrence shows the Old French Grants (and?) Seigneuries, outside of which the Pink Shade shews the Crown Lands in Part laid out into Townships.

The Counties are distinguished by a deep Blue Edge of which those of Nicolet, Yamaska, Drummond, and Sherbrooke on the South of the St. Lawrence, and St. Maurice and Champlain on the North side Form the District of the Three  Rivers, as Coloured Green over these Counties, and as it is divided from the Districts of Quebec and Montreal respectively.  The figures in Red Ink on the Roads &c. shew the Sums in Pounds Currency appropriated by Law for said Roads &c. in the Session of the Provincial Legislature which ended in March, 1829, and those in Blue Ink the additional Sums appropraited in March 1830.  The former Amounting to £33,400 and the latter to £41,941 ... 6... 7.  Total £75, 431.6.7.

Add  £46.833... 0..6 in Blank Ink Figures, being the Amount appropriated in March 18321

 £ 122,314. 7 / Sum Total for 1829, 1830 & 1831.  Respectfully Submitted  By.. Wm. Sax Surveyor

The second note in the east reads as follows:

This Extent of Territory as A.B.C.D.  A having a length of Coast of 420 Miles or thereabout, and Consisting of Upwards of 15,000,000 of Acres, was together with the Island of Anticosti Re-annexed to Lower Canada by an Act of the Imperial Parliament in the Year 1825.


The map is extremely rare. We note examples in the Bibliotheque National de Quebec (heavily damaged), Canadian National Archives University of Pittsburg and Huntington Library (Kashnor Collection).

We located only a single example in a dealer catalog and no auction records.  The Montreal Book Company offered an example of the map for in its catalog 140 (1982) for $320.00.

Condition Description
Lithographic map with extensive manuscript additions. Attached to two rods for roiling. Silked edges, with some soiling and staining.
Gagnon 1, 4457. Holmden 2564. Not in Phillips, Maps