Winner of the 2018 Louise de Kiriline Lawrence Award for Nonfiction
Envisioning the mysterious land that would eventually be called "Canada" through the eyes of the explorers who first set foot on these shores, A History of Canada in Ten Maps brings our stories to life.
Every map tells a story, and every map has a purpose: inviting us to go somewhere we've never been. It is an account of what we know, but also a trace of what we long for. Like a story, a map is never completely objective. It records special interests and agendas. It leaves important things unsaid even as it purports to lay things out clearly and indisputably. We can know our history by our maps.
That is what A History of Canada in Ten Maps will do. This book chronicles not just the centuries of Canada's existence; it conjures the world as it appeared to those who were called upon to map it. What would the new world look like to Jacques Cartier, who could see no farther than the treeline? What would the north have looked like to Martin Frobisher, confronting a sea of ice but imagining that Cathay lay just beyond? What would the vastness of the country look like to a surveyor or railroad engineer (or an investor in Great Britain)? And what rival claims to the land were left off all these maps?
Historical maps may tell only part of the story, but they also tell us volumes about what we didn't know, and hint at what we may have preferred go unrecorded. A History of Canada in Ten Maps will tell the story of the creators of these maps, and also recount how they used the maps for their own ends. It is a book that will surprise readers, and reveal the Canada we never knew was hidden. It will bring to life the characters and the disputes that forged our history, by showing us what the world looked like before it entered the history books. Combining storytelling, cartography, geography, and of course history, this book will show us Canada in a way we've never seen it before.
ADAM SHOALTS has been called one of Canada's greatest living explorers and in 2017 embarked on a 4,000-kilometre solo journey across Canada's arctic. He is also an historian, archaeologist, and geographer. Shoalts's doctoral research at McMaster University examines the influence indigenous oral traditions had on European explorers in Canada's subarctic and West coast. He has done archaeology in four countries and enjoys long walks in the woods.
"It's an epic journey and Shoalts relishes the brutal struggles for dominance, the restless swagger of men such as Peter Pond, the tales of mammoths and wendigos carefully noted by David Thompson, the ghastly cannibalism that occurred on Captain John Franklin's expedition to the Coppermine River.…Shoalts has done an elegant job of patchworking the stories together and reminding us of the vast and brooding influence of geography on our history." –Globe and Mail
"Shoalts analyzes early maps in order to paint a picture of the land that would become a nation, bringing its earliest stories, voices, and battles to life. Combining geography, cartography, history and anthropology, Shoalts leaves no stone unturned." –CBC
“Adam Shoalts gets around. The historian, archaeologist and geographer has been called one of Canada's greatest living explorers. . .He's the author of A History Of Canada in Ten Maps, a researched look at ancient cartography and archaeology to document how the land we call Canada was shaped.” –CBC
"A brilliant book." –Canadian Geographic
“[A] marvel…. If you like maps, you’ll like this book; if you like both maps and crisply recounted Canadian history, you’ll love it. Shoalts…takes you inside [explorers’] heads as they face fear, doubt and despair in tandem with cold, starvation and rebellious wanting-to-turn-back companions…. Canadian history writ well." –Winnipeg Free Press
“A masterful approach to mapping Canada.” –Toronto Star
“[O]ne fine book perfectly written for the armchair adventurer.”—Postmedia