This early large format map, titled "Amer. Sep. No. 31. Partie De La Nouvelle Hanovre," presents a detailed view of the Puget Sound and Vancouver Island areas, as well as regions to the east. The title "Partie De La Nouvelle Hanovre" refers to a portion of the region named New Hanover, an unusual name for what would become British Columbia.
The map displays remarkable detail in and around Vancouver Island, and extends north to the Straits of Queen Charlotte, Iles De la Princesse, Canna Hinchinbrook, and Canal Gardner. It features the Straits of Juan de Fuca, Cape Flattery, Bellingham Bay, Deception Passage, Point Forbes, and New Dungeness.
The map also highlights the route of explorer Alexander MacKenzie to the Pacific from the Fraser River, which forms the central focus of the map. In the east, numerous Indigenous tribes are shown, including the Kootanie, Aahoohanoo, Sayalpee, Tetes Plates, and the Serpens (Snake). The region encompasses several English forts. Notable geographic features like Mount Olympia, the headwaters of the Columbia and Flathead Rivers, are depicted as well.
This highly detailed and remarkable map is part of Philippe Vandermaelen's impressive six-volume atlas. When assembled as globe gores, the maps form a massive globe. Vandermaelen's work represents the first atlas mapping of the world on a uniform scale, which was a groundbreaking accomplishment in cartography.
Philippe Marie Vandermaelen (1795-1869) was a Belgian cartographer and geographer known for his pioneering use of technology and his leadership in establishing the important Establissement geographique de Bruxelles. Born in Brussels, Philippe was obsessed with maps from a young age. He taught himself mathematics, astronomy, and mapmaking and plotted the battles of the Napoleonic wars avidly. He took over his father’s soapmaking business briefly in 1816, but then turned it over to his brother in favor of cartography.
From 1825 to 1827, he released his first atlas, the Atlas universal, which was well received. It was sold in forty installments of ten maps each, with 810 subscribers listed. The atlas contained 387 maps in six volumes at a uniform scale of 1:1.6 million. The maps were intended to be joined and together would create a globe 7.755 meters wide. It was the first atlas to show the entire world on a large uniform scale and was the first atlas produced using lithography. This project served as Vandermaelen’s gateway into intellectual life, gaining him membership in the Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles-Lettres of Brussels (1829).
In 1830, Vandermaelen inherited a laundry from his parents which he converted into the Establissement geographique de Bruxelles, or the Brussels Geographical Establishment. His brother, Jean-Francois, also established a botanical garden on the site. The Establishment had its own lithographic press, one of the first to use the technology for cartography and the first in Belgium. They produced textbooks, surveys, and especially maps of Brussels to be used for urban planning. The complex also housed schools, an ethnographic museum, and a library open to the public. Vandermaelen was passionate about geographic education and saw the Establishment as an open place where people could learn about the world.
In 1836, he was knighted for his services to geography and the intellectual community of Belgium. He died at age 73 in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, near the Geographical Establishment that he founded. After Vandermaelen’s death, the Geographical Establishment declined, closing its doors in 1880. The extraordinary collection they had amassed passed to several institutions, most importantly the Royal Library of Belgium.