Magnificent Atlas reveals the Riches of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec's Cartographic Collections

    MONTREAL, Oct. 29 /CNW Telbec/ - Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du
Québec (BAnQ) announces the publication of a superb work that revisits the
history of North America. Jointly published with Septentrion under the title
Mapping a Continent: Historical Atlas of North America, 1492-1814, the work is
an invitation to discover the riches of BAnQ's cartographic collections.
Mapping a Continent goes on sale October 30 at the Boutique of the Grand
Bibliothèque and on BAnQ's portal. It tells the story of the daunting quest
for cartographic knowledge that occupied coureurs de bois, missionaries,
navigators, soldiers and academic geographers from the first contacts between
Europeans and Amerindians to the major expeditions across the continent at the
dawn of the 19th century. Seeking not only a passage to China, but also fish,
furs and precious metals, the explorers paddled rivers, made portages, trekked
through forests and, with the help of the Amerindians, unlocked the secrets of
a true terra incognita.
    Written by Jean-François Palomino, map librarian at BAnQ, and historians
Raymonde Litalien and Denis Vaugeois, the work outlines the history of the
continent and its cartographic representation. Featuring about 40 chapters on
subjects as varied as Amerindian cartography, Acadia, North American place
names, the Northwest Passage, the hydrography of the St. Lawrence, and
England's conquest of Canada, Mapping a Continent is superbly illustrated with
some 200 old maps and prints, taken for the most part from BAnQ's collections
but also from several other famous collections from Canada, the United States
and Europe.
    The atlas has notably benefited from the participation of the
Bibliothèque nationale de France, which holds some of the most beautiful
cartographic treasures of New France. At once a reference work and a
collector's item, Mapping a Continent also includes very useful indexes on
place names and the aboriginal presence in North America.
    "BAnQ, at once a keeper of Québec's memory in all its forms and in all
media, a major distributor of historical, scientific and literary culture, and
a burgeoning virtual library, has found in this work a complement to the
diversity of its efforts." These words from the preface to the work Lise
Bissonnette, Chair and Chief Executive Office of BAnQ, show just how seriously
BAnQ takes its mission of collecting Québec heritage and making it available
to all, as well as those of promoting research on its collections and
contributing to the advancement of knowledge about them. Released in time for
the 400th anniversary of Québec City, Mapping a Continent is a reminder of the
vital role played by that city in transmitting geographic knowledge. Indeed,
it will be the main supporting document of the exhibition Ils ont cartographié
l'Amérique, a major event to be presented at BAnQ's Grande Bibliothèque from
February to September 2008.

    Mapping a Continent: Historical Atlas of North America, 1492-1814 (cloth
with dust jacket, 300 pages, colour throughout with index and bibliography)
will be on sale for $89 at the Boutique of the Grande Bibliothèque
( - Montréal region: 514 873-1101, ext. 3424 - toll-free,
elsewhere in Québec: 1 800 363-9028, ext. 3424) and in bookstores throughout
Québec. The book is available in its original French version, La mesure d'un
continent : atlas historique de l'Amérique du Nord, 1492-1814. The English
version was translated by Kdthe Roth and jointly published with McGill-Queen's
University Press.

    About BAnQ's collections of maps and plans

    Spread among several buildings, BAnQ's collections of maps and plans are
among the most complete on the Québec of yesterday and today. Eloquently
documenting Québec-related cartographic production, these collections are
brimming with documents: tourism maps, fire insurance maps, geological maps,
topographic maps, cadastral maps, hydrographic maps, settlement maps, military
maps, land use plans and much, much more. Many old maps reproduced in Mapping
a Continent are now available in the all new digital collection entitled
America, 1500-1800, available on BAnQ's portal (

    About BAnQ

    Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is a cultural
institution whose mission is to acquire, preserve and disseminate the
publications, archival documents and films constituting Québec and
Québec-related documentary heritage. BAnQ also offers all Quebecers free
access- on site, on the Internet and through interlibrary loan- to vast
universal collections and to the services of a major public library. BAnQ
encompasses the Grande Bibliothèque, a preservation centre (Centre de
conservation) and nine archives centres in Montréal, Québec City, Gatineau,
Rimouski, Rouyn-Noranda, Saguenay, Sept-Iles, Sherbrooke and Trois-Rivières.

                             Further information

    Mapping a Continent: historical atlas of North America, 1492-1814

    A collaboration between Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and
    Septentrion with the participation of the Bibliothèque nationale de

    About the authors

    Raymonde Litalien, has worked internationally as a historian and
archivist. She received a degree in Literature from the Université de
Montréal, followed by a PhD in History from La Sorbonne. She has represented
the National Archives of Canada in France since 1977, where she oversees a
team that compiles and microfilms French archival fonds related to Canada. By
2000, more than a million and a half document pages had been identified and
photographed to enrich Canadian collections. She then coordinated a joint
France-Canada project which consisted in digitizing and posting on the
Internet all known documentation on New France. She has published archival
finding aids, numerous articles on archival science and history as well as Les
explorateurs de l'Amérique du Nord, 1492-1795 (Septentrion, 1993). In 2004,
she co-edited with Denis Vaugeois Champlain. La naissance de l'Amérique
    Since 2000, Jean-François Palomino has held the position of map librarian
at Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec where he plays an active role
in the acquisition, preservation and promotion of the heritage collection,
while taking an interest in the challenges facing heritage digitization and
digital map preservation. Holder of a master's degree in history from
Université Denis-Diderot (Paris VII) and an advanced studies diploma from
Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV) in the same discipline, he focuses his
research on the history of cartography in North America. His subjects of
predilection are the people who have crafted the cartographic image of New
France, notably Jean Baptiste Louis Franquelin, a French cartographer who
settled in the city of Québec at the end of the 17th century.
    Historian and editor Denis Vaugeois has been passionate about early
cartography for years, even decades. His career as a historian began with the
publication of the Boréal Express newspaper, which he followed in 1968 with
Canada-Québec : synthèse historique, 1534-2000, a tremendous success that has
been republished several times since. Attracted by Amerindian history, he
published L'Indien généreux in 1992 and La fin des alliances franco-indiennes
in 1995. In America (2002), he takes a very personal look at one of the
founding myths of United States history, and one marked by French-Canadian
influence: the Lewis and Clark expedition. In 2004, he co-edited with Raymonde
Litalien Champlain. La naissance de l'Amérique française. The publication of
Mapping a Continent is the logical outcome of a remarkable pursuit and the
materialization of a dream of many years. His passion and know-how in the
field of history book publishing were extraordinarily helpful in seeing
through, with partner Gilles Herman, one of the most significant projects of
his career.
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For further information:

For further information: Geneviève Dubuc, Direction des communications
et des relations publiques, Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec,
(514) 873-1101, ext. 3165,

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