Samuel Holland map returns for exhibit celebrating 250 years since the historic survey
A massive, 250-year-old map of Prince Edward Island, which laid the groundwork for developing the province, has returned home.
Historic surveyor Samuel Holland’s manuscript map of the province, created in 1765 and recognized as a technical achievement in Canadian history, was unveiled at the Confederation Centre of the Arts last weekend.
The three-by four-metre map is the focus of an exhibition co-curated by Island historians Boyde Beck and Edward MacDonald titled Imperial Designs: Samuel Holland’s 1765 Map and the Making of Prince Edward Island.
MacDonald said the map, a product of imperial rivalries at the time, provided a critical role as a template in the settlement of P.E.I.
“The Holland map in P.E.I. history sets in motion everything that’s happened since,” said MacDonald. “It’s a key event in the history of our province. So to bring the map here for the first time in so many years is an honour.”
MacDonald said the exhibit, which runs until Jan. 3, 2016, also gives a better understanding of the context the map was created in as well as how Holland surveyed the province.
“At the heart of this story is proof that maps can affect the course of history,” he said.
The document, which is on loan from the United Kingdom National Archives, was the first modern, accurate map of P.E.I.
Beck said the document was also the first step in the most ambitious mapping project the world had ever seen, a document created to show Britain’s North American em- pire, which then stretched from Florida to Hudson Bay
While seen by some as only a tool, the map has had a lasting impact on names of communities, the orientation of roads and even P.E.I.’s status as a province, he said.
“To make sense of Holland’s map, we have to make sense of Holland’s world. A world of war and diplomacy, commerce, exploration and settlement,” said Beck. “In that world, maps were more than direction finders. They were instruments of empire.”
David Keenlyside, executive director of the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation and chair of the province’s Samuel Holland 250 Commemorations Committee, said the exhibit includes other artifacts that show Holland’s life, work and the people of his generation that shaped early P.E.I. history.
“This unique exhibition highlights the Holland commemoration year with a oncein-a-lifetime opportunity for young and old to see for the first time in North America, the original hand drawn map of Samuel Holland’s survey,” he said.
Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, officially opened the exhibit.
The exhibit was organized collaboratively by the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation, the Public Archives and Records Office of P.E.I., and the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in partnership with the Canadian Museum of History.
It also received funding from the Government of Canada and is sponsored by the Samuel Holland 250 Committee, Purity Dairy Limited, and the Association of Prince Edward Island Land Surveyors.
Information on commemorative events can be found online at samuelholland250.com
Head of conservation at the United Kingdom National Archives Juergen Vervoorst, left, stands with Island historians Edward MacDonald and Boyde Beck, Confederation Centre art gallery director Kevin Rice and U.K. National Archives conservator Lucy Angus in front of Samuel Holland’s original 1765 map of Prince Edward Island. Beck and MacDonald are co-curators of the exhibit featuring the historic map.