Copy-book of Letters Outward &c. begins…. 1679-1694.

This is a large and impressive compilation from the London office of the Company in London to Company officials in Lord Rupert’s land during the early years of the Company. The period includes the brief French capture of the Prince of Wales Fort at Churchill.

p. xvi-xviii, on the maps needed for the territory: In any study of cartographical evidence a first distinction must be made between two groups of map-producers, the professional chartmakers working specifically for seafaring men, their owners and their patrons, and the professional cartographers who made maps and atlases for more general use. The former at his best was a skilled technician but not usually a man of much education. The latter, again at his best, was a man well read in books of travel and cosmography and not infrequently a true scholar. The chart-maker’s procedure was to collect the rough charts, sketches, log-books and journals from homecoming seamen and pilots (and his establishment was usually near the dockside) and piecing these records together as best he could, to graft them on to the existing charts in his possession. The cartographer, while using maritime charts if he came across hem, relied principally upon travellers’ reports and other traditional sources, besides such scanty astronomical data as were available. This very diverse material (which included old maps) he interpreted to the best of his judgment. [Note indicates Jesuit missionaries carefully observed latitude and calculated longitude at key points.]

Quite apart from the distinctive content and differing cartographical conventions of charts and maps respectively as dictated by the functions of each, it is true to say that the maritime chart, in intention at least, presented only ascertained facts, while interpretation, deduction and even speculation might account for many features on an ordinary map. Tradition was strong in both cases, involving resistance to change, and since, moreover, a chart printed on vellum and a map engraved on copper-plate were alike expensive to produce and slow to wear out, it was but natural that many charts and maps remained in circulation and use long after becoming factually out of date.

This was even more frequently the case with a third and much inferior class of maps, those produced by or for hack-writers, book-sellers, print-sellers, engravers and others who had no special knowledge of geography. … As evidence of what areas had actually been discovered or settled at a particular date they are of course worthless.

If we now examine the cartography of the American North-West from this standpoint, the first thing to note is that since a monopoly Company naturally practiced secrecy, any charts, log-books or journals made on the voyages or in the Bay were handed in to the Committee when the ships returned. As a consequence the current maritime charts remained uncorrected for several years, while for a much longer period the maps published in atlases and in separate sheets failed to indicate more accurate topography, the new trading posts and the new place names resulting from the occupation of the Bay.

p. xxxvi, prayer-books and Harmonies are mentioned in the Introduction, with this caveat: As to whether the Governor or the Revd. Mr. French, the first Minister to go to the Bay, made any use of the Prayer-books and Book of Homilies which the Company sent we have no evidence.

p. 4: In the first place, We do strictly enjoyn you to have publick prayers and reading of the Scriptures or some other religious Books, wheresoever you shall be resident, at least upon the Lords days, As also to order the severall chiefs in each Factory under your command to do the same, That wee who professe to [be] Christians may not appear more barbarous than the poor Heathens themselves who have not been instructed in the knowledge of the true God. This is what wee have formerly directed, and have sent over proper books for the use of the Factory (to wit) the Common prayer Book, the Bible and the Book of Homilies wch. Contains choice & well approved Sermons for Instruction. But wee understand there hath been little or no use made of them heretofore, wch. Neglect wee desire you would reform for the future that we may reasonably ex[pect] the blessing of God to attend your endeavours and to prosper the interest of the Company.