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About the Historical Map Society of British Columbia


The Historical Map Society of British Columbia is the oldest map society in Canada, founded in 1976 in response to a call by Dr. Richard Ruggles, head of the Department of Geography, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. An enthusiastic group, we immediately undertook a series of lectures on “The Mapping of British Columbia” for the Continuing Education Departments of the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria. This was followed by another series on Map Collecting in 1978.

In 1988 members loaned 156 maps and 2 atlases maps from their personal collections for an exhibition, The World of Antique Maps, to aid the Eye Care Centre. From 1981 to 1992 the Society produced a series of historical map reproductions. This was ceased when we embarked on our most ambitious project, a cartobibliography of maps of the British Columbia area up to 1871, the year this colony joined the confederation of Canada. We now have about 3,000 maps listed on our fledgling website.

We have monthly meetings from September to June with speakers from the membership, or visiting scholars, such as Commander David Waters, Professor Kazutaka Unno, David Buisseret, Francis Herbert, Andrew David, and Andrew Cook. Although we are located here on the west coast of Canada, we are interested in maps of the world, past, present, and future. We have enjoyed talks about explorers, including Cook, Vancouver, the Spanish, and Drake; early Chinese maps; Japanese maps of the Tokugawa era; Ptolemy; the Vinland Map; Mercator; surveying instruments; Calligraphy; hydrographic charts; and the great British mapmakers.

We are proud to have been involved in one way or another with a variety of societies and conferences over the years, such as the bicentennial conferences celebrating Captains Cook, Vancouver and the Spanish, and Malaspina; the Archaeological Society of America, the Society for the History of Discoveries, and the Vancouver Spanish Pacific Historical Society (annual), the Association of Canadian Map Libraries and Archives, and the Western Association of Map Libraries.

Frances M. Woodward

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