Maps and Territories

An occasional blog by an amateur map lover.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Ulster in 1808

From The General Gazetteer; or, Compendious Geographical Dictionary. Compiled by R. Brookes, Revised by W. Guthrie and E. Jones. Eighth Edition, Dublin, 1808.
A large version of this map is online at the Perry-Castenda Map Collection

My family are from parts of this map. My father's family, going through Sinclairs and Corrigans lived in this part of Ireland when this map was made. Specifically, our ancestral connection takes us to the towns around Charlemont, just north of Armagh. The Sinclairs were founders of the Orange Order and lived at Fairlawn on the Blackwater river in Co. Armagh.

This article from the Armagh Guardian of May 20 1845 describes a dinner held at my great-great-great grandfather's house. Both Thomas Sinclair and Samuel Corrigan occupy the same level on my family tree. Several early Orange Order heavyweights were at this dinner, including Col. Verner.:

"On Wednesday evening last, the Derryscollop and Ardress tenantry were entertained at dinner by their respected and highly-valued landlord, B. T. BALFOUR, Esq., jun., of Townley-hall, on the occasion of the baptism of his infant son and heir. The spacious dining-room and hall of Fairlawn were beautifully laid out for the occasion ; and the dinner, as might be expected at the table of Mr. SINCLAIR, was sumptuous, and amply provided with every variety the season afforded. After the cloth was removed THOMAS SINCLAIR, Esq., was called to the chair, and delivered an excellent speech, when he proposed the healths of B. T. BALFOUR, Esq., Lord of the Soil--Mrs. Balfour-- B. R. T. Balfour, son and heir--Mrs. Rennel--Col. Verner--all of which were warmly received, and ably responded to by Messrs. S. CORRIGAN, T. JOHNSTON, and others.-- Several other toasts were given, and the company separated, after expressing their gratitude at the kindness of the worthy agent, Mr. SINCLAIR."

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The Kwakwaka'wakw homeland

From and article by Stephen Hume on the recent discovery of prehistoric clam terraces in the Broughton Archipelago:

"As the crow flies, the Broughton Archipelago is about 250 kilometres northwest of Vancouver's steel and glass. It's the true heartland of the Kwakwaka'wakw, one of the most powerful and wealthy aboriginal nations on the raincoast.

Eight years ago, the shadow of the chopper carrying Harper skittered along a craggy, forest-clad foreshore that's punctuated by countless small coves that gleam like jewels. It passed across shining beaches of polished shell fragments and pale sand.

It was there that the earth scientist noticed something odd, something he'd seen before, something that had sunk into the back of his mind, but that also resonated with a memory about the strands of Labrador, more than 7,400 kilometres to the east.

Then it popped back into the front of his field of perception. On beach after beach, he'd been seeing a line of boulders and cobblestones.
'In the heart of the Broughton Archipelago, I started seeing these features,' he recalled. 'Then when we began looking, we started seeing dozens of them.'


"Clams are all found in the one- to three-metre inter-tidal zone," he said. "That's the prime area for clam productivity -- and all these ridges are at the precise height to optimize clam production. I've also been learning about clam culture. It appears that harvesting clams improves productivity, that constant tilling and removing large clams improves the habitat for the clams that remain."

He started reading the ethnological works of Franz Boas, the 19th-century anthropologist who worked with George Hunt to collect and preserve cultural knowledge that might otherwise have been lost forever in the epidemics and chaos that accompanied the collision of a western economy with aboriginal peoples.

From Robert Galois' book Kwakwaka'wakw Settlements, 1775-1920: A Geographical Analysis and Gazetteer, he was able to plot the spatial relationship between the clam terraces and ancient villages.

But he still had no concrete evidence even from aboriginal sources to support his theory.

"For five years I couldn't find a single person that knew of them or believed they were man-made," he said.

Then he came across Heart of the Rain Coast, the autobiography that Billy Proctor, a fisherman who was born in Port Neville in 1934 and has lived all his life in the Broughton Archipelago, wrote with the help of whale researcher Alexandra Morton.

"I realized that Billy Proctor had dug lots of clams," Harper said. "I wrote asking him about these features."

Proctor wrote back. Yes, he had heard some old stories about "clam gardens" from elders when he was a small boy.

It was news that revitalized Harper's search. If there were old Kwakwala stories, maybe one of them had been recorded by Boas and maybe he could find some elders who still remembered those old stories.

He enlisted the help of ethnologist and linguist Randy Bouchard, who recently completed a 30-year annotated translation of Boas. University of Victoria ethno-botanist Nancy Turner introduced him to Daisy Sewid-Smith, a Kwakwaka'wakw linguist and educator whose roots were with the Mamaliliqala tribe of Village Island, and to Chief Kim Recalma-Clutesi of Qualicum who is married to the carver and elder, Kwakwaka'wakw Chief Adam Dick.

"Adam is illiterate," Harper said. "He was never permitted by his parents to go away to residential school because he was to be a keeper of knowledge."

Keep it, he did. Late last year, Chief Dick recalled an old song about the clam gardens.

"It's a four-verse song," Harper said. "Gilford Island songs are all four-verse songs, I've learned. It's a song about kids helping their mother and one of the verses is about going out to help build the clam garden."

Now they had a word -- lo xwi we -- and Bouchard tracked it down in an unpublished dictionary compiled by Boas and held in the American Philosophical Society collection.

"Only Randy could come up with this," Harper said. "The second line of page 404 contains the word 'lo xwi we' and definitions, one of which is 'low tide mark' and another which means 'place of rolling rocks together.' Boas never understood their function."


"They took the largest rocks that were in the clam bed and moved them out to extreme low water marks, setting them in rows like a fence along the edge of the water," Stern wrote. "This made clam digging very easy compared to what it had previously been because there are only small pebbles and sand to dig in. It is exceptional to cultivate clam beds in this manner and while other clam beds are used by everyone in the tribe, here only the owners who cultivated the bed gathered."

There's still research to be done on the huge complex discovered in the Broughton Archipelago, Harper said, and he's trying to secure funding for it. The engineering features of the clam gardens need to be better assessed. They need to be dated, fully catalogued and protected because "this is as significant as Ninstints [the Haida World Heritage site in the Queen Charlotte Islands]."

Doubtless it is. And doubtless evidence of large-scale indigenous aquaculture on this coast predating European settlement has huge implications for aboriginal land claims negotiations.

Last summer, however, Harper used his vacation and a new boat to take his wife, Mary, the three aboriginal elders and Bouchard on a field trip of their own to the clam gardens of the Broughton Archipelago.

"We went to beaches that Adam had been to as a boy," Harper said. Chief Dick directed Harper to one terrace where he had clammed with his parents in a far off past, the beach where a sasquatch stole four bags of his clams. Daisy Sewid-Smith told him of the culture that developed this amazing technology, the culture of her father, grandfather, great-grandfather and beyond who had lived on Gilford Island when families still passed their clam gardens down from generation to generation.

And they all went to yarn with Billy Proctor, whose own sharp memory had helped turn the key.

"It is a neat story," Harper said. "For years I couldn't find anyone that had knowledge of these or believed they were man-made features. Now I can hardly find someone who doesn't believe me. I am developing some cynical theories on the herd instinct of scientists."

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Friday, October 24, 2003

Map of Peary and Henson's North Pole Expeditions
From Matthew Henson's book Dark Companion

In Wayne Johnson's book "The Navigator of New York" the protagonist Devlin Stead takes his first journey to the Arctic with explorer Frederick Cook to find Peary. They anchor in Upernavik, just south of Etah on Greenland's west coast and watch glaciers calf late summer icebergs:

It sounded as if massive trees were being slowly bent until they broke, a forest of them creaking, splintering, snapping. The snapping increased to Gatling-gun speed, geysers of ice chips erupting one after the other along a jagged line that traced out the shape of what would be one side of the iceberg. Huge chunks of ice rained down from the top, churning the water white. The staccato of snapping sped up until it became a single sound. There was a deafening severance of old ice from old ice. Then came a creaking screech, as if all that had broken so far were the branches of a tree, but now the very trunk itself had begun to give. I thought it would go on like this, breaking massively but gradually, with an excruciating reluctance. But then the whole thing plunged suddenly, as if it had been hanging by a single cable that had just been cut. It seemed for an instant that it had not so much fallen but been erased from the bottom up; that there would be no splash, no sound. And then all the water that had been displaced rose up at once, as though something of the size of the iceberg had been pushed up from the ocean floor to take its place. There was nothing to be heard or seen but water -- water roaring, frothing up so high and wide it seemed certain that nothing so inert as ice would appear when it had died down. Its height and shape persisted, fountain-like, for seconds. Then the first uprush of water fell and caused a smaller one, which had just begun when the iceberg surfaced, it great mass rolling, the water around it churning as though silent engines were propelling it from far below.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Routes of the explorers of Canada 1492-1905
From the 1905 National Atlas of Canada

Fitting that the first post in this blog should feature a historical map of some of the routes of those who explored Canada between 1492 and 1905.

Welcome to Maps and Territories, an occasional curio.

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October 2003  

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