Artifact: Henry Abraham Chatelain Commercial Map 1719

Description: Michael Pancoe brought in a Henry Abraham Chatelain Commercial Map from 1719 with French text that includes French Canada and the Great Lakes region, the St. Lawrence region, New England, and Acadia. Entries on the map include biologic, anthropological, and economic information, such as the lists of tribes in each area, the price of certain furs and other goods, and what flora and fauna could be found in the region.

Oral History:

Oral History Transcription:

This is Jenna Beaulieu (JB) interviewing Michael Pancoe (MP) at the Sound Schoolhouse on July 12, 2018 as part of the Mount Desert Island Historical Society’s History Harvest trial run.

He has brought in two items the first of which is a 1719 map and the second, which is a reprint of Rusticator’s Journal.

JB – So, which item would you like to start with?

MP – Why don’t we start with the map.

JB – OK, awesome. Tell me a little bit about it.

MP – This is sort of a commercial map from 1719. It’s French. It was done by a French mapmaker named Henry Abraham Chatelain. It was actually derived from a similar map that was done by another French mapmaker in 1703 named Lahontan. When Lahontan did the map in 1703, it’s not particularly geographically accurate. It does include much of French Canada and the Great Lakes region it has all five Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence and New England and Acadia where we are now and Acadia is labeled. The interesting part about it though is, well, two things. One is what it doesn’t show but it hints at. That is, there is a series of lakes and rivers that travel westward and northward from Lake Superior from the Great Lakes, off to the edge of the map and that’s because Lahontan, who originally did this map in 1703, he had a little bit of wishful thinking in that he thought that it might be possible just to take your sailboat or your canoe and to travel across the continent.

They were always looking for a way to get to the other side. So that was 1703, so that was a full 100 years before Lewis and Clark who attempted to cross the continent. In fact, I don’t have a map that Lahontan did of the continent, but he did some in which he displays an extremely large bay, I would say almost rivaling the Gulf of Mexico, which is now where British Columbia, Montana and state of Washington exist. He put that in there saying that there was a ship that was in this bay that had met some English ship that had come from the East. So, he basically had this fanciful idea that you could sail across the continent.

He included on the margins in this map. The thing is interesting for us here is the commercial aspects of the map and also anthropological aspects of the map and even the biologic so it lists, for instance, tribes of the entire Northeast by area and so for instance, it says nations or savages. They said in French “du Canada” and at the top where it says “of Acadia” it lists number one, the Abenaquis. Number two, the Micmacs and it goes down the list and there are some other ones that I’m not sure about.

Some of the ones that are not sure about but also they also list separately on the tribes of the St. Lawrence and some of the ones that we see in Maine are listed there, for instance, the Algonquins and the Iroquois and many others are listed. If you go to the Midwest and the Great Lakes, it repeats the same thing. So there’s of several dozen tribes that are listed with respect to the areas which are mostly geographic. They really related to the rivers and lakes in the areas that they inhabit.

Then across the bottom is biologic. Okay, so it lists the animals even the insects, the oiseaux, the birds, the poisson, the fish, and they do it by by geographic areas again, For instance, there are lakes and rivers. It list things in French like sturgeons, trout, white fish, mullet, carp, and so forth. You don’t have to be a French expert to read some of these that translate relatively easily and then further on the right, they even talk about trees and fruits of the area.

And then finally on the right side is the commercial part, which to me is in some ways the most fun. So for instance, a renard is a fox. So a renard ordinaire, an ordinary fox: 2 pounds. A renard argent, four pounds, twice as much for a silver fox as for an ordinary fox. You can get a muskrat for six shillings. Here’s a rare delicacy – le testicle – bear testicles are five shillings. So, all sorts of things you may want to eat but basically things that are of commercial value.

JB – How did you come by it?

MP – I had a friend who used to sell maps and I purchased this from him 30 years ago. It caught my eye. I grew up near the Great Lakes and New Hampshire and it shows a lot of the areas where I lived my life. So that’s it. It’s something I thought was a nice prize.

Resourceful Links:

Click Here to Download the Map in High Resolution

Pancoe Oral History Transcription.pdf