Some synonyms for bird’s-eye view include aerial view, aerial viewpoint, overhead view, bird’s-eye shot, and bird’s-flight view. There are slight differences in perspective, but all appear to depict the area from up above.
Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? is a new exhibition by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) marking the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. This exhibition is accompanied by a year-long blog series.
Join us every month during 2017 as experts, from LAC, across Canada and even farther afield, provide additional insights on items from the exhibition. Each “guest curator” discusses one item, then adds another to the exhibition—virtually.
Be sure to visit Canada: Who Do We Think We Are? at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa between June 5, 2017, and March 1, 2018. Admission is free.
The Chewett Globe by W.C. Chewett & Co., ca. 1869
This globe was one of the first produced in Canada, around the time of Confederation. Designed for use in schools, it was part of a nationalistic push to define and explain the brand new country.
Tell us about yourself
I have travelled extensively for both pleasure and work. I have been to Europe multiple times, and Peru for archaeological digs as a student. I also spent over a year living in Japan as a high school student, and it was an unforgettable experience. The most important lesson I learned was to appreciate and respect things that are different, strange, and sometimes incomprehensible. It taught me to be critical of my biases and the culture I live in, reflexes which promote cohesive living in a multicultural world.
Is there anything else about this item that you feel Canadians should know?
Because of my expertise and love of travel, I have chosen to discuss the Chewett Globe. Maps are a lot of fun! Whenever I travel, I like to look up the country’s world map because they always put their country in the middle of the map. This inevitably causes distortion in the distances between countries and the size of oceans as our planet is spherical. Seeing Canada shrink and stretch has always made me smile and helped me understand how other people see and understand their world, if only a little bit.
Our world is also ever changing, from its physical features, such as rivers and mountains, or abstract constructs, such as names and borders. Therefore, maps must be continuously updated, which allows us to trace history through changes in maps. Maps are critical to my work as an archaeologist. Old city plans might reveal where old buildings once stood or abandoned cemeteries were located but have since been built over and faded from our collective memory. I also must consider how the landscape may have looked like in the past to understand what resources people could access, and what might have inspired them to choose a specific location to camp or imbue meaning onto the landscape through stories and legends.
I think Mr. William Cameron Chewett, the person whose company created this globe, would have appreciated these thoughts. Although his profession was printing, his family were involved with mapping Upper Canada. His grandfather, William Chewett, worked as surveyor-general and surveyed most of what is now Ontario, while his father, James Chewett also worked as a surveyor before building many known Toronto buildings. W.C. Chewett and Co. was considered one of Canada’s foremost printing and publishing firms. The firm produced award-winning lithographs between 1862 and 1867, with yearly first place awards, and had a large publication output ranging from periodicals, directories, and the Canadian Almanac, to law and medicine books. In addition, the retail store was a popular social gathering spot. The globe was created in the company’s last year (1869) prior to it being bought and renamed the Copp, Clark and Company.For Canada’s150th anniversary, I think it is worth reflecting on the changes that have come to pass in the last 150 years, which the Chewett Globe can literally show us. In my lifetime, I observed the creation of the territory of Nunavut and the renaming of various streets in my neighbourhood. What changes have you seen in your life and how did they affect you and your community?
Tell us about another related item that you would like to add to the exhibition
When most people think of maps, they think of geography and political borders, but maps can also be used to illustrate and describe almost anything, including census information, spoken languages, and group affiliations amongst others. To continue the topic, I have selected an 1857 map of North America that shows the regions where various First Nations groups resided at the time. Ideally, if I were to add this map to the exhibition, I would also want to include a modern map of where First Nation groups reside to show the public the momentous changes lived by our fellow citizens to allow them to see these changes as clearly as those they can pick out by comparing the globe to any modern map of Canada.
My other reasoning is a little more selfish. As an anthropologist, I understand and have learned through experience that the best way to appreciate and respect another culture is to learn about it, about the people, and where possible, live in it. Growing up, I had very little exposure to First Nations, their culture and history. Because of this, I never developed much of an appreciation for their culture or interest in learning about them. As an anthropologist and Canadian, I was ashamed of these feelings and sad when fellow Canadians express similar views. For the last few years, I have actively sought to educate myself. By including this piece, I hope to inspire others to appreciate, respect, and learn more about their fellow Canadians. The topic is particularly meaningful on Canada’s milestone year as this is the year we should celebrate coming together and developing stronger bonds, one nation to another.
Annabelle Schattmann is a physical anthropologist. She holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from McMaster University (2015) and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Trent University (2012). She has participated in multiple research projects including a dig in Peru, cemetery excavation in Poland, and research on vitamin C and D deficiencies from various time periods in Canada and Europe.
The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa are some of the most recognizable structures in Canada. Although the Peace Tower may be the most iconic part of the exterior of the buildings, it’s the newest addition to the precinct. Originally built between 1859 and 1866 in the Victorian High Gothic Revival style, Centre Block officially opened on June 6, 1866 as Parliament for the Provinces of Canada. The location was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1857 and was the biggest construction project of its time in North America, running way over budget, in part due to the cost of blasting out the bedrock to build the foundation. On July 1, 1867, Centre Block was chosen to be the official Parliament for the Dominion of Canada. Its location was considered ideal for many reasons, namely its distance from the American border, as well as its visibility to those who lived in the area.
Centre Block stood on Parliament Hill for 50 years until the evening of February 3, 1916 when a fire broke out in the House of Commons’ reading room. The flames spread quickly and seven lives were lost that night. While many of the stone walls remained standing, the only part of the building to truly survive was the library, which was built in 1876 with iron doors (which were closed by a clerk before leaving that evening). Although rumours claimed arson was the cause, the fire was a result of a discarded cigar.
Despite Canada being heavily involved in the First World War at the time, it was clear that the buildings had to be rebuilt. With the country expanding, it was decided that the Parliament Buildings would follow suit. The plan was to keep the same Gothic Revival style as the original buildings without creating carbon copies of them. Construction started later that year and was completed in 1922. The Peace Tower, named in commemoration of Canada’s commitment to peace, was completed in 1927.
Today, Centre Block is bordered by the East and West Blocks and by a large public open space that serves many purposes—it’s a celebration area on Canada Day, a place for demonstrations and protests, a spot for noontime yoga in the summer, etc. Tours of Centre Block are given throughout the year and it’s become one of Ottawa’s most popular attractions.
Shipwrecks, both as historical events and artifacts, have sparked the imagination and an interest in the maritime heritage of Canada. The discovery of the War of 1812 wrecks Hamilton and Scourge, found in Lake Ontario in the 1970s, and the discovery of the Titanic in the 1980s, served to heighten public awareness of underwater archaeology and history.
Whether you are a wreck hunter on the trail of a lost vessel, or a new shipwreck enthusiast eager to explore images and documents that preserve the epic tales of Canadian waters, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has something for you.
Starting your research
First, gather as much information as possible about the shipwreck(s) you are researching. Specifically, you will ideally want to obtain the following information (in order of importance):
- Name of Vessel
- Location of accident
- Date of accident
- Ship’s port of registry
- Ship’s official number
- Year of vessel’s construction
The Ship Registration Index is a helpful resource. The database includes basic information about more than 78,000 ships registered in ports of Canada between 1787 and 1966.
Can’t locate all of the information listed? There’s no cause for concern! Not all of the information is necessary, but it is essential that you know the name of the vessel. All Government records relating to shipwrecks are organized according to the ship’s name.
What is Available?
Using Archives Search, you can locate the following types of material:
- Consult the How to Find Photographs Online article for more help.
- In Archives Search, under “Type of material”, select “Maps and cartographic material” to narrow your results.
All records listed are found in the documents of the Marine Branch (Record Group 42) and/or Transport Canada (Record Group 24).
Official Wreck Registers, 1870‒1975
- Wreck Reports, 1907‒1974
- Register of Investigations into Wrecks, 1911‒1960
- Marine Casualty Investigation Records, 1887‒1980
Important: Government records contain information about shipwrecks that occurred in Canadian waters, and include all accidents involving foreign vessels in Canadian waters.
Please note: this is not an exhaustive list of resources, but rather a compilation of some of the major sources of documentation available on shipwrecks held at LAC.
You can find a number of digitized photographs, maps and documents on the Shipwreck Investigations virtual exhibition. More specifically, check out the collection of digitized Official Wreck Registers in the Shipwreck Investigations Database. Simply check if the name of the vessel you are researching is listed.
Another excellent source of information on shipwrecks is local public libraries. There are many maritime histories and bibliographies that offer reference points to begin your shipwreck research.
Last year, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) acquired an important collection of documents relating to the Canadian career of Sir John Coape Sherbrooke (1764-1830). His pivotal role in the defence of the British colonies that would become the Atlantic Provinces during the War of 1812 led to his appointment as Governor General of British North America in 1816. However, his arrival in Nova Scotia in October of 1811 was not his first time in Canada.
In the fall of 1612, Samuel de Champlain had an engraving of his first detailed map of New France made in Paris. The map contained new geographic information, based on his own explorations from 1603 onward. The site of Montreal is clearly identified. Using information obtained from Aboriginal peoples, he was able to include previously uncharted areas, such as Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls. He also made use of other maps to depict certain regions, including Newfoundland. Although the engraving was made in 1612, the map was not published until the following year as an appendix to Voyages, Champlain’s 1613 account of his journeys.
While back in France in the summer of 1613, Champlain had an engraving made of a second version of a general map that he had begun the previous year, which he also published in his 1613 book. In that map, he incorporated his most recent geographic findings, including the Ottawa River, which he was the first to depict. His depiction of Hudson Bay was deliberately inspired by a map of Henry Hudson’s voyages (source: MIKAN 4145717).
An incomplete general map by Champlain also exists. The engraving was made in 1616, although the map was never published. The only known copy is held by the John Carter Brown Library.
In 1632, Champlain published his last major map of New France, which was included in his final book, Les Voyages de la Nouvelle France occidentale, dicte Canada. He had been living in France for nearly three years, having been driven out of Quebec by the Kirke brothers in 1629. This updated map contains little new information verified by Champlain himself, as his own explorations came to an end in 1616. He based the revised version on the invaluable information conveyed to him by others, chief among them Étienne Brûlé. Nevertheless, this map represents an important milestone in the history of North American cartography and was widely used by other mapmakers. There are two versions of this map. Among the differences between them are the representation of Bras d’Or Lake or a chain of mountains on Cape Breton Island. Both versions of the map are held by Library and Archives Canada. The first can be seen here:
Suggested reading to learn more about this subject: Conrad E. Heidenreich and Edward H. Dahl, “Samuel de Champlain’s Cartography, 1603-32”, in Raymonde Litalien and Denis Vaugeois, eds., Champlain: The Birth of French America. Sillery: Les éditions du Septentrion; and Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2004, pp. 312-332.
October 7, 2013, marks the 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, issued by King George III of Britain. With the end of the Seven Years War, Great Britain took possession of all North American territories east of the Mississippi River. The Royal Proclamation was a key legal document for the British to organize and manage their expanded North American empire.
The Royal Proclamation regulated the expansion of the newly ceded colonies of Québec, East Florida, West Florida and Grenada, and stabilized relations with Aboriginal peoples through the regulation of trade, settlement and land purchases on the frontier. It also set a boundary for European settlement, known as the “proclamation line”, along the Appalachian Mountains. Land along rivers flowing into the Atlantic Ocean would be available for European settlers, while territory along rivers flowing into the Mississippi would remain First Nations’ lands. The proclamation line was to be temporary and extend westward in an organized manner.
The Royal Proclamation became the constitutional framework for the negotiation of Indian treaties in British North America. It recognized Aboriginal peoples as autonomous and capable of negotiating agreements with the Crown. The document also acknowledged that First Nations are entitled to continue owning their territories, including hunting and fishing grounds, until they surrendered them to the Crown. The first attempt to enforce the treaty took place north of the Great Lakes and resulted in the Treaty of Fort Niagara on August 1, 1764.
To learn more and to read a full transcription of the Royal Proclamation, consult the web page, 250th anniversary of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s website.
Beginning in 1871, the Dominion Lands Branch had been surveying and mapping Canada from East to West. By 1886, the Dominion Lands Survey had extended to the Rocky Mountains, but the rugged terrain made traditional survey methods impractical. Édouard-Gaston Deville, Surveyor General of Canada, devised a new methodology called “phototopography,” (also known as photogrammetry) based on the use of survey photography from hot-air balloons in France and Italy. A special camera was constructed for surveyors, who ascended thousands of peaks in Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon. They rotated and levelled their cameras on tripods to create 360-degree views of the surrounding terrain. Between 1887 and 1958, more than 100,000 glass plate negatives were used to create the first topographic maps of the Canadian Rockies, of which 60,000 are now part of the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collection.
Since 2002, LAC has been a major participant in the Mountain Legacy Project, an ongoing partnership led by the University of Victoria, which includes stakeholders in universities, archives, government, and non-governmental organizations.
LAC identifies, describes and digitizes the original negatives. These photographic records are the foundation of this multidisciplinary project, which uses “repeat” photography. It consists of re-photographing the landscape from the precise original locations to provide information about environmental changes that have occurred over the last 120 years.
To search LAC holdings of original photographs, follow these easy steps:
- Go to the Basic Archives Search.
- Enter the archival reference number R214-350-0-E in the search box.
- From the Type of material drop-down menu, select Photographic material and then click on Submit. Your search will generate a list of results.
- Select an underlined title to access the full description of a photograph. The descriptive records display images of photographs that have been digitized.
If you wish to narrow your search:
- Go to the Archives Advanced Search.
- Select Photographic material from the drop-down menu labelled Type of material
- Use one or a combination of the following options as keywords in the Any Keyword search box:
- Name of the surveyor (e.g., Bridgland, McArthur or Wheeler).
- Year of the survey (must be used along with another keyword to limit search).
- Name of a survey (e.g., Crowsnest Forest Reserve, or Interprovincial Boundary Survey, although these may have taken place over several years, by various surveyors).
- Name of a particular landscape feature, such as mountain peak, river, creek, or valley (often the views are identified by the station/peak they were taken from, rather than by the peak or landscape featured in the photograph).
- Name of the park (Note: The LAC collection does not contain reproductions of the images from Jasper and Banff National Parks).
- Limit your search results by selecting a decade under the label “Date” on the right side of the screen.
For more information about the Project, and to compare the archival images with the repeat photography, visit the Mountain Legacy Project website. To view a sampling of paired photographs, visit our Flickr Set. To view some images of the surveyors, visit our Facebook Album.
Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!
At the beginning of the 20th century the Canadian government, led by Sir Robert Borden, wanted to strengthen Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic, in response to the presence of the United States and Russia in the North. The Canadian Arctic Expedition was established by Order-in-Council 406, dated February 22, 1913, under the responsibility of the Ministry of Naval Services and other government bodies.
The expedition was comprised of two groups, each with its own objective: the Northern Party, led by Vilhjalmur Stefansson, was responsible for geographic exploration of the Arctic to ensure Canadian sovereignty in the western part, while the Southern Party, led by Dr. Rudolph M. Anderson, focused on scientific discovery.
An expedition fraught with challenge
On June 17, 1913, the expedition set sail from Esquimalt Harbour in British Columbia aboard the Karluk headed for Herschel Island in the Beaufort Sea. In August, the ship became trapped in ice and drifted for over four months, eventually sinking in Siberia. The ship’s captain, Robert Bartlett, describes the final days of the voyage in his book Northward ho! The last voyage of the Karluk. Stefansson’s decision to leave the ship on September 19, 1913, to continue his exploration occurred in a climate of crisis. Stefansson’s departure remains a source of controversy and debate among historians.
To find out more
The following are some of the archival documents and government reports that constitute the information resources related to this expedition.
For consultation on-site at Library and Archives Canada:
- Documents from the Ministry of Naval Services
- Private records from members of the expedition, including documents from John R. Cox, Kenneth G. Chipman, Rudolph M. Anderson and Diamond Jenness
Available online from Library and Archives Canada:
- The map Discoveries in the Arctic Sea, 1616-1927 identifies the islands discovered by Stefansson and the Northern Party. A number of places bear the names of members of the expedition.
- Scientific reports are available online via the Internet Archive site.
- A comprehensive account of the story of this expedition can be found in the book by Stuart Jenness, Stefansson, Dr. Anderson and the Canadian Arctic Expedition, 1913-1918: A Story of Exploration, Science and Sovereignty, published in 2011.
Please note that the majority of the documents are available in English only.
For more information, be sure to visit the virtual exhibition at the Canadian Museum of Civilization: Northern People, Northern Knowledge: The story of the Canadian Arctic Expedition 1913-1918.
Visit our Flickr album for more photographs.