A CURIOUS MAP OF NOVA SCOTIA IN 1747 (September 15/00)

The old map of the Maritimes came in the mail recently and the first thing I noticed on looking at it was that in 1747 New Brunswick as we know it didn’t exist.

You’ve probably read in the history books that the boundaries of Nova Scotia once extended well into New Brunswick. I assumed that history was right on this, but I also believed that when Nova Scotia took in parts of New Brunswick, both provinces existed at the same time with the latter as a smaller entity.

The 1747 map quickly put the kibosh to this erroneous notion. In 1747, according to the map, greater New Brunswick was called Acadia. The map shows that what today is the Fundy shore of New Brunswick once belonged to Nova Scotia. If I remember my history, it seems to me that Nova Scotia also once included part of Maine; however, I couldn’t determine if this is true from a study of the map.

Anyway, Nova Scotia was much larger some 250 years ago. The accompanying legend appears to designate Nova Scotia as a country along with Canada; Cape Breton is shown as a separate province.

“A new & accurate Map of the Islands of Newfoundland, Cape Briton, St. John and Anticosta,” the legend reads, “together with the neighbouring Countries of Nova Scotia, Canada & c drawn from the most approved Modern Maps and Charts.” Note the spelling of Cape Breton and Anticosti. St. John is the Acadian name for Prince Edward Island and this brings up a curiosity in the map.

There is an indication that the map was produced by the British. But oddly, as in the case of Prince Edward Island, many of the Acadian place names are incorporated in the map. As noted, the area above Nova Scotia was called Acadia. Grand Pre is shown as “Grand Pray,” which is a strange phonetic misspelling. The Acadian settlement around New Minas is shown as “les Mines,” the place name the Acadians used.

Minas Basin is shown as “Les Mines,” the original French designation for this body of water and the surrounding shoreline, coined I believe by Champlain. In fact, all along the Nova Scotia shoreline the British retained the Acadian names. While few place names are shown inland, all are Acadian in origin. An exception is Windsor which is shown as “Piqiquit,” which is Micmac in origin.

The general land area comprising the western end of the Annapolis Valley is shown by the strange name of “le Basques.” Obviously of French origin, since most place names on the map are, this is puzzling. Why, one might ask, did the Acadians refer to this area as if there was a Basque connection?

With so many Acadian place names on the map, it’s surprising that the Bay of Fundy already has its current name. It’s something to check out, but I don’t believe that in the period of Acadian occupation the French called this body of water the Bay of Fundy. In Watson Kirkconnell’s work on Kings County place names, the author notes that if one were to travel to Kings County from France by ship in the 17th century, “one would come not by the ‘Bay of Fundy’ but by la Baie Francoise (the ‘French Bay’ or Frenchman’s Bay’). so called by Sieur de Monts in 1604.”

The 1747 map came to me compliments of Ivan Smith, Canning. Readers with Internet access can view the map at [no longer available], which is Mr. Smith’s history website. The origin of the map is David Rumsey’s online collection of old maps, found at http://www.davidrumsey.com/.

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