The fascinating story and historical importance of this bilingual map has been researched in detail by Alex Johnson of Antiquariat Dasa Pahor. The map presents the Acadia Boundary Dispute between France and Britain, a major cause of the Seven Years’ War. It focuses on the Canadian Maritimes, but extends eastwards to include Boston, Lake Champlain and Montreal. The various dueling British and French current and historical claims to parts of the Canadian Maritimes (Acadia), Quebec and Maine, are shown to divide up the territory in various ways, employing lines and shading, as explained by keys. The basic geography of the map is taken from Thomas Jefferys’s A New Map of Nova Scotia, and Cape Breton Island… (London, 1755), and a table toward the right of the composition compares various latitudinal and longitudinal readings on the present maps to 8 other well-known maps of the region. The composition is adorned with a beautiful allegorical scene of Neptune riding a sea chariot being led by hypocanthuses.
In 1749, the Britain and France formed a Joint Commission to resolve their boundary dispute in Acadia. Tensions between the two powers remained high following the signing of the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (1748), which ended the War of Austrian Succession (1740-8) on the terms of the status quo ante bellum. However, France and Britain disagreed about what the “status quo ante bellum” meant, as the boundaries of the French and British claims in the region from before this last war were prescribed by the Treaty of Utrecht (1713).
The present map was issued by Georges-Louis La Rouge in a clever effort to graft the French claims onto Jefferys’s geographical template, so adapting the British map to French ends.
Not surprisingly, in spite of the detailed deliberations and unprecedented investigation of historical cartography, the Joint Commission was deadlocked and was disbanded in 1754. While the Ohio Valley Dispute is better known as a cause of the French & Indian or Seven Years’ War, the Acadia Boundary Dispute was in some ways more important, as the region represented both the gateway to New France and guarded the sea routes from the British Thirteen colonies to Europe. Also, the banks off of Nova Scotia yielded a great wealth in fisheries, revenues infinitely more sizable than those received from the Ohio Country. The issue would have been top of mind in both London and Paris as the two empires headed for war in 1755, the year that this map was printed.
The map is scarce and seldom appears on the market. It was issued separately, although left over stock copies were included in La Rouge’s Atlas Ameriquain Septentrional (1778). The map is an important artifact relating to both American and Canadian diplomatic history and is a key item for any serious collection of the mapping of the Canadian Maritimes and Maine.