Champlain's 1612 map suggests how little Europeans knew about the interior of North America at the time. For instance, only two the the five Great Lakes are visible.
Lac Superieur et autres lieux ou sont les missions des peres de la Compagnie de Iesus, comprises sous le nom d'Outaouacs
This map of the upper Great Lakes shows several Jesuit missions as well as American Indian communities.
Fur trade contract, dated Sept. 15, 1692 in Ville-Marie, Québec, concerning transport of merchandise to Michilimackinac and Chicago to be traded for beaver pelts. The contract describes an agreement between François Francoeur dit Lavalle—represented here by his wife Marie Magdeleine St.-Jean, authorized by him to conduct their joint business affairs while he was away “aux Illinois”—and four voyageurs: Simon Guillory, Jean Baptiste Jarry, Louis Roy, and by proxy, Simon Roy. For 500 livres each in beaver pelts, and their food, the voyageurs agreed to make the journey to Michilimackinac and “Chicagou” (one of the earliest references to Chicago in a voyageur contract) the following spring, in two canoes to be furnished by them, to transport merchandise, and to make the return with beaver pelts. At each of the trading centers, the four voyageurs have permission to use one of the canoes to trade 300 livres of merchandise each for personal profit. There are also provisions concerning voyageurs “hyvernants,” those who spend the winter out in trapping country in Illinois. The contract includes Francoeur's footnotes in margins, marked in the text with a sequence of carats and circles. Each addition is initialed by two or three of the parties involved, and the document is signed by St.-Jean and Guillory; the notary, Maugue; and witnesses Jean Legras and Adrien Betouni. Jarry and Roy did not sign, as they did not know how to write their names.
This drawing depicts a beaver and a scene showing Native Americans capturing and drying the meat of wild “Beeves” (long horned beef cattle). Lahontan had visited New France with the French colonial army in the late 1780s, and his account of his travels helped shaped European perceptions of North America.
The upper right quadrant of the image details the Straits of Mackinac region, including the fort and Indian village at Saint Ignace and the fort established across the Straits at latter-day Mackinaw City; 16 lines of accompanying notes mention the presence of 600 coureurs de bois in 1716. On same sheet are maps of the Fort Chambly in Québec and Fort Frontenac (later the site of Kingston, Ontario).
Nicholas De Fer, geographer to the king of France, prepared this map for the Compagnie d'Occident (Company of the West) to promote the development of a French colony in the Mississippi Valley.
Signed contract, dated June 5, 1721 in Villemarie [Ile de Montréal, Québec], between Gilles Chauvin, Pierre Hubert Lacroix (and by proxy, Jacques Hubert Lacroix), associates of the Compagnies des Indes, and Pierre-Charles de Liette, in which the associates agree to provide de Liette with a canoe and guides for his journey from Montréal in exchange for two safe conduct passes. In the face of an impending investigation by the French government into the activities of the failing Compagnie des Indes, de Liette has resigned his commissions, and plans to leave Montréal. The commanding general has given him two passes which he signs over to Gilles Chauvin and Pierre Lacroix on the eve of their departure to the upper territories. In return, they agree to furnish de Liette with a canoe and four voyageur-guides as far as Fort Michilimackinac in Michigan, at which point de Liette will exchange canoes and receive two other guides to continue on to his final destination. De Liette is also obliged to see that the canoe and the guides are returned to Michilimakinac the following spring. The contract is signed by de Liette, Chauvin, Pierre Hubert Lacroix, local witnesses Théophile Barthe and Andre Dorien, and “notaire royal,” Jacques David.
Commissioned by the British Board of Trade and Plantations at a time of imperial conflict with France, this map emphasized the westward extent of British territorial claims in North America. The map also prominently features British claims in the Caribbean Sea.
The map shown here was traced in a French archive in 1846 from an original map drawn in the 1730s by Auchagah (Ochagache), a Cree Indian, at the request of a French army officer stationed at a fort north of Lake Superior. Auchagah based his map on earlier maps and drawings made by other Cree Indians, as well as his own knowledge of the area.
Created 150 years after the Champlain map (image #269), this map shows that French map-makers had gathered much more information about the interior of North America. By modern standards, however, the map distorts the shape of the Great Lakes. Nevertheless, the map includes important trade information such as the location of portages, Native American communities, and French towns and forts.