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James Cook (1728-1779)

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James Cook (1728-1779)

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A Chart of the Sea-Coast of Newfoundland Between St. Laurence & Point May. 1765. Manuscript map, ink and watercolour, coloured.

The Friends of Library and Archives Canada made a second significant donation in 2008-09 to assist in the purchase by Library and Archives Canada of a 1765 manuscript map by James Cook (1728-1779) of the south coast of Newfoundland between Little St. Lawrence Bay and the Bay d'Espoir, opposite the French islands of Saint Pierre et Miquelon.

James Cook is most famous for his voyages in the South Pacific but he began his career as a surveyor in North America, from 1758 to 1765, during the time of the Seven Years War. James Cook was present at the surrender of the French fort at Louisbourg in 1758 and at the fall of Quebec in 1759. After the war, in order to uphold British sovereignty in Newfoundland and to support the English competitive position in the vital cod fishing industry, Cook produced the first reliable large scale map of the coast and harbours of Newfoundland. The printed maps that were produced from Cook's Newfoundland survey were still used by seamen over a century after their publication.

Printed maps by James Cook are quite common in collections in Canada and elsewhere. Manuscript maps, however, are very scarce. There are no manuscript maps of Cook's Newfoundland survey in any other collection in Canada.

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