Friday, 24 February 2017

The Quest for the Map of Canada

It seems difficult to remember what we did before GPS and Google Maps. We can put the globe in our pockets, but before smartphones and computers, people relied on paper maps to see the world.

The history of the map of Canada starts with Indigenous peoples, but the first known European map of Canada dates to the early 1500s. At the time, cartographers seem to have believed that Eastern Canada and Greenland were part of Asia. Techniques were vastly improved over the next century, and Samuel de Champlain made great strides, mapping as far west as Georgian Bay.

By the time the Diocese of Toronto existed, cartography and publishing were vastly different. Maps were available for common people to own. Here in the archives, we have a great example of a map of Upper and Lower Canada that could have been kept on a bookshelf as a handy reference tool. At first, it looks like any other book:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

But when you look inside, something is a bit different:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

After unfolding several layers, the map is fully opened:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

Though the map is undated, it appears that it was published by Charles Magnus some time after he moved to New York in the 1840s and some time before Canadian confederation in 1867:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

Google Maps might have a lot of useful features, but it doesn't have this kind of flair!

ARCAT Holograph Collection

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A fun decorative detail:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

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And here's our own little corner of Upper Canada:

ARCAT Holograph Collection

HO 02.009

Think about these kinds of maps when your GPS voice is telling you to turn right on Bloor! For a great history of the mapping of Canada, check out the Canadian Encyclopedia. To see more maps of Canada, check out McGill University's W. H. Pugsley Collection of Early Canadian Maps.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Remembering Sir Wilfrid Laurier

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was Canada’s seventh prime minister. His tenure as the first francophone PM – from July 11, 1896, to October 6, 1911 – is currently the longest unbroken term of office for Canada's leader. He still holds the record for the longest-serving leader of a major Canadian political party. During his time as PM, Laurier oversaw the building of another transcontinental railway; added two new provinces, Alberta and Saskatchewan, to the Dominion; and encouraged immigration to Western Canada. Though he certainly had his opposers (such as the Catholic population during the Manitoba Schools Question in that province), Laurier was known as an energetic orator and a fervent proponent of keeping the French and English parts of the country united.

Laurier served in the House of Commons during the episcopacies of five of Toronto's Archbishops. He was first elected to the House of Commons when Archbishop Lynch was Toronto's ordinary. Laurier became PM while Walsh was Archbishop and continued through both O'Connor and McEvay. He died of a stroke at age 77 on February 17, 1919, during McNeil's time as Archbishop.

The Archives has a few documents in its collection about and from Laurier. In this letter to Archbishop O'Connor, typed on Privy Council Canada letterhead, Laurier discusses the claim of one Mr. Moylan:

December 13, 1901
O AB03.28
Archbishop O'Connor fonds

The following is a letter written on Prime Minister's Office letterhead to Archbishop McEvay from Laurier expressing his condolences that he must miss McEvay's installation as Archbishop:

June 16, 1908
ME AA02.22
Archbishop McEvay fonds

This is the cover of the program for Laurier's mass and funeral service held at Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa, February 22, 1919:

MN AH08.18
Archbishop McNeil fonds

Library and Archives Canada posted this video of Laurier's funeral procession and burial, which shows just a few of the fifty thousand people who lined the streets of Ottawa that day to pay their respects:

Friday, 10 February 2017

I've Been Working on the Railroad

On this day in 1906, Prince Rupert was chosen as the name of the terminus of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In her book Birth of a City: Prince Rupert to 1914, Sue Harper Rowse explains:
"The name for this proposed city was chosen in a nationwide contest sponsored by the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The company offered a cash prize of $250.00 for the best name for this new Pacific Coast city. The contest rules included the consideration that the name must contain less than ten letters and a maximum of three syllables. More than 5,000 entries were received by the contest closing date of December 15, 1905. Miss Eleanor MacDonald of Winnipeg was declared the winner for the name 'Prince Rupert.'
"Prince Rupert (1619-82) had been born in Prague, the son of Frederick, King of Bohemia, and Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England. Rupert grew up in the Netherlands and studied at Leiden ... A man of many artistic and scientific interests, Rupert also took part in colonial and commercial schemes. On May 2, 1670, King Charles II appointed Rupert - 'Our dear and Entirely Beloved Cousin' - first Governor of Hudson's Bay Company. However, somewhat ironically Prince Rupert never set foot in Canada."  
The location was an ideal spot for the railway terminus because it had a deep, ice-free harbour and was a shorter shipping distance to Asia. The activity that accompanied the building of a new town and railways attracted a lot of ambitious men and women to the area, including many Catholics. In 1913, Archbishop McNeil wrote to the Catholic Church Extension Society explaining the need for more services for the workers:

"Until now the railroads of British Columbia have run mostly east and west. At present two main lines are in course of construction north and south. One of these is part of the Canadian Northern from Yellowhead Pass to Kamloops along the Thompson River. The other is a line from Vancouver to Fort George to connect there with the Grand Trunk Pacific and eventually pass on north to the Peace River Valley. It will take some years to construct the latter. In the meantime a large number of Catholics working on these roads, and many Catholics settling on land in that northern country, will need attention, and sites for future churches should be secured."

March 17, 1913

Archbishop McNeil Fonds
MN AD20.003 a

Archbishop McNeil had been Archbishop of Vancouver for two years before being appointed to Toronto, so his experience with the area made him an ideal advocate for soliciting support and funds for the Catholics in that area. Prince Rupert had a church quite early, but the need was growing in other places. McNeil recognized the need for local administration and expansion of services. What had previously been very much a mission area needed an increased presence of the formal structures of the Catholic Church. At the time of the letter, the Prince Rupert area was the centre of the Prefecture Apostolic of the Yukon and Prince Rupert, and by 1917 it became a Vicariate Apostolic. The boundaries shifted over the years, but in 1967 the territory was elevated as a diocese. The next year, the bishop moved the seat of the diocese to Prince George, where it remains today.

Though the Grand Trunk Pacific didn't fare well, the city it founded flourished as a transport hub. With a population of 12,000, it is a centre of natural resource production and a destination for tourists.

You can read more about the history of the Diocese of Prince George here.

Bonus: Check out the British Columbia Archives, which has many interesting digitized photos, including Prince Rupert under construction, the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, the first Catholic church, and much more.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Record of the Week: Lord Lisgar

Sir John Young, 2nd Baronet and 1st Baron Lisgar, was sworn in as Canada’s second Governor General on February 2, 1869, officially replacing Lord Monck. Lord Lisgar’s time in office was full of growth and upheaval. The Red River Rebellion led by Louis Riel began in his first year, and a Fenian raid occurred six months later. After the Rebellion, Rupert’s Land was finally transferred from the Hudson's Bay Company to the Crown, and Manitoba and British Columbia both joined Canada.

This letter, a copy made at the time of the original, is the only record that the Archives has that relates to Lisgar. In addition to many large national issues, Lisgar dealt with individual ones as well. Here, Archbishop Lynch is requesting clemency for a man named Clifford:

St. Michael's Palace
Toronto March 15, 1872

To His Excellency 
The Right Honorable Baron Lisgar 
Governor General of Canada
&c &c &c

My Lord

I beg to add my recommendation to your Excellency’s clemency in favor of Clifford in the Penitentiary of Kingston. The young man was of exemplary conduct and was remarkable for his simple affection and obedience to his parents. This affection carried too far proved his ruin. His father was accustomed to smuggle and these operations blunted his conscience and hence planned without remorse the burning of his house to get the Insurance money. His Son in an hour of weakness was accessory to the crime of his father, though very much against his will, for, a few moments before the deed was committed he threw himself upon his bed crying and sobbing and saying to his wife “this job will be my death”. The old man, the principal of the plot died in the Penitentiary and his Son’s forebodings will prove true if he be not soon released from prison. He has an aged mother on the brink of the grave who was once very respectable. Your Excellency could hardily exercise your clemency upon a more deserving object than this Clifford.

I have the honor to be
Your Excellency’s most obt servant

L AH17.07
Archbishop Lynch fonds

Due to poor health, Lisgar resigned his position early, only a few months after this letter. He left Canada with his wife shortly afterwards and died in Ireland on October 6, 1876.