The Lake/Baker Map of 1863

What does the Lake Map look like?

My first intimate encounter with the Lake map – now named after the chief suyveyor –  occurred in August 1994 when I was asked to prepare an evaluation and proposal concerning the restoration of this map in a local collection. I had the opportunity to spend some time  examining and studying it, and gaining a first hand experience of what the map was originally supposed to look like.

The Lake Map is a huge lithograph meant to be hung on a wall, and is printed on heavy paper and mounted on two wooden rollers, the top one a plain moulding about 77 inches wide, with metal fasteners for attachment to a wall. The bottom, more ornate, has finials  and is about 81 inches long. The back was reinforced by a layer of glued-on  cotton fabric. The combination of fabric and glue would in time gather moisture and the organic compounds would support the growth of molds.  Damp patches would penetrate the paper of the map and leave black stains.

The Island Register site describes the map as being 8 x 10 feet, while the Island Imagined site says it is 4 x 8 feet. Actually, it is only (!) 4 x 6 feet.

This map reflected dramatically a new technique in art that became commonly available in exceptionally large format in the middle of the Nineteenth Century through the lithographic process. Large printing presses that could rapidly lift the image off a large slab of prepared limestone and transfer it onto huge paper sheets were developed.

The lithographic process involved drawing, with a special pencil or marker, the desired image on a perfectly smooth slab of polished limestone. This image could absorb a special oily ink that, once it was passed through a press that exerted heavy pressure, transferred this image, with all its original subtleties, onto paper. Many copies of the highest quality could be printed, so the process was economically popular as well as aesthetically satisfying.

This new technology was relatively inexpensive to acquire and in a few short years revolutionised the way pictures were reproduced. The engravings and etchings, popular for centuries, fast became obsolete except for special projects. Of the old graphic techniques, only the woodcut continued to be used in newspapers and journals because of the nature of the presses used to produce them.

By the 1850s a whole new graphics industry had grown in the United States that specialised in producing and selling on the popular market large extremely detailed lithographic maps of states or counties. New exciting variations in formats were introduced and soon large, breath-taking highly detailed birds’ eye views of whole cities and towns appeared. By the 1870s this trend in large-scale popular topographic cartography would lead to the production of remarkably exact lithographed atlases of whole territories. The detail however was much greater as individual property boundaries were shown and ownership and acreage indicated. On Prince Edward Island in 1880 this would be manifested as the Meacham ATLAS.

Here is a typical example of the sort of map that so captivated communities across the United States. It is a map of Oneida County, New York, made from new surveys, and published in Philadelphia in 1858 by John E. Gillette. J. D. Lake was part of the team of cartographers that produced this massive project, and would have brought that very expert experience to the Prince Edward Island project. The map was printed with colour on two sheets with a glued-on cloth backing. It is 170 x 159 cm in size. This copy is in the Library of Congress (G3803.O2G46 1858 .F7).

As you can see, even at this early date, every square inch of the map surface was filled, first, with its primary subject, the county map, and then nearby towns with street detail, and then plans of many small towns and villages in the region. There are seven exquisitely drawn pictures of local buildings, five houses in the best architectural style, a courthouse, and a city hall. Every other bit of space is used for advertising, with lists of residents in some cases, and business directories for all the towns.

Every feature of this complicated map was there by subscription. You paid the publisher to have your house, or your village plan, drawn and included in the final product. This map paid for itself before went to press.


A Great Map is Planned for Prince Edward Island

The first reference to this new great map of Prince Edward Island that I know of appeared in the Charlottetown newspaper the Daily Examiner, on Monday, October 14, 1861, page 4, having been submitted a week before:


You will note that Mr. Baker names two civil engineers who are in charge of the project, D. J. Lake and H. S. Peck. However, by the time the map was actually published Mr. Peck has disappeared and only Lake’s name appears on the cartouche. Maybe that is why, in time, it came to be called the Lake Map.


Mr. Baker, the publisher, after whom the map was called in the 1860s – the Baker Map, NOT the Lake Map – was efficient in producing powerful publicity such as this testimonial that appeared in the Daily Examiner on June 2, 1863, when the date of release was approaching:

NEW TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND. — We would call the attention of our readers to the New Topographical Map of Prince Edward Island, now being published by Messrs. W. E. & A. A. Baker. Every road is being carefully surveyed by course and distance; and, we are informed by the Publishers, that they are taking the pains to give the location of every house on the Island, with the name of the owner carefully engraved at the point designated for his house, and also the location of all the Schoolhouses, Churches, Post Offices, Mills, Streams, etc. This will be, indeed, a work of great merit, and be found a valuable guide to every part of our Island, showing to any one the distance to any point he may wish to refer, and will give to the scholar who may study it a good knowledge of the geography and topography of the Island.

All this is being done at a large expense to the publishers, and it is necessary that the most liberal encouragement be extended to these gentlemen, as they pass thorough the different Townships, revisiting their surveys, and taking orders for their work. It will make a large and ornamental Map, and will be handsomely colored and mounted. The low price of Thirty shillings, at which they offer such a Map, will place it within the reach of a large number.

Mr. Baker has exhibited several of his surveys for examination, and has received the following testimonials: –

We, the undersigned, having examined the surveys, made for the purpose of constructing a large Topographical Map of Prince Edward Island, take pleasure in recommending to the public such a Map as being very reliable and well worthy of liberal patronage. Considering the large expense attending such a survey, and procuring so accurately the names, locations, distances, &c., we think the price, thirty shillings, very reasonable fur such a Map.

His Excellency the Lieut. Governor,

Edward Palmer,

W. H. Pope,

George Wright,

Henry Cundall,

John Aldous,

T. H. Haviland,

Joseph Hensley,

John Ings.

Upon the Map will also be given an enlarged plan of Charlottetown, giving the name of every street, the location of every dwelling, and the numbers of the different lots; and similar plans of Georgetown, Summerside, and the larger villages. Messrs. Baker & Co. come among us well recommended. bringing letters of introduction from the Provincial Secretory of New Brunswick, and we have no doubt that the work will he performed to the satisfaction of our people; and as this is entirely a local work, they will publish no more copies than what they receive orders for as they pass through.


This was followed by yet another letter of support that appeared in the Daily Examiner on August 17, 1863:


We have been shown this morning the new map of Prince Edward Island just completed, and from a hasty examination of it, we say that it promises to be a very fine and well executed map. It gives every Township upon the Island, separately colored, all the roads carefully drawn from actual survey and measurement, with the location of the property holders, Schools, churches, Mills, streams &c., and the distance from one post to another marked upon the roads. Upon this map will also be found a large plan of Charlottetown showing all the streets, the location of the public buildings, private residences — with a directory of the public officers and principal business men – also a fine engraved view of the Colonial Building. The other principal places, Georgetown, Summerside, Souris, &c., are also found on the margin of the map, together with the population of the different Townships from the last census. We think those who have given their orders for the map will be glad to receive it, as it will be found to be a valuable map for reference. Mr. Baker, the publisher, is now in town, and ready to supply those who have given their orders with a copy of his work.

More ads continued to appear at the end of the year as the desire to finish off the project and tidy up increased. This one appeared in the Examiner on November 2, 1863 on page 5:


And just over a month later this one was published in the Examiner on Devember 14, on page 4.



The Cost of Producing this Map

When he decided to take the risk of publishing a huge lithographic map of Prince Edward Island, the publisher W. E. Baker took a considerable risk, not perhaps at first, with enough subscriptions to cover costs of production, but in the likelihood of sufficient sales to turn a profit that would make the very large project worthwhile. In the publicity material presented above we learn that Baker wanted 30 shillings for his map. It was suggested to me by Bruce Elliott (personal communication) that if we try to convert this cost in today’s money, assuming that the Canadian dollar in 1870 was more or less worth $27.00, then in todays terms the map would have sold for around $195.

I do not know of any published subscription list for the map, but going over the long list of who was who in every profession in the chart on the map I had no difficulty in setting aside about 100 names of possible or probable subscribers. If so many bought the map, the outlay, in today’s money, would have been about $19,500.00. I don’t know what the margin of profit could have been, but when you begin to deduct the expenses associated with the activities listed below that were essential to the production of the map, the profit margin is lowered considerably.

Just imagine the work that had to be done to bring this project to fruition. Here is a (partial) list of tasks, all on the expense list, that would have to be attended to:

  • With spectacular examples of previous similar projects to show prospective customers, tour as many parts of the Island as possible aside from Charlottetown and Summerside;
  • Compile a subscription list large enough to cover production expenses;
  • Bring in a crew of surveyors and cartographers and send them into the field following a master plan;
  • Make travel plans and arrange accommodations for these individuals;
  • Consult as widely as possible to determine what Islanders would like to see on such maps;
  • Sell as many community map spaces as possible;
  • Buy all available up-to-date maps as a working library;
  • In the various Government departments seek out every lot map, with data of landlords and tenants and freeholders, as well as property locations;
  • Working with the most recent census determine the location of every person attached to a piece of land in every community;
  • Collate the work of the surveyors;
  • After about a year of work send all the collated material – surveys, town plans, business directories etc. to J. Schedler in New York for the drawing of the master design on a 4 x6 foot block of limestone, print proofs, record discrepancies both locally and in PEI, print the maps – and maybe paint them with a clear varnish;
  • Ship the printed maps to the publisher Baker in Saint John, N.B. where the maps will be varnished? and assembled by having rollers tacked on, and possibly at this stage, cloth backing glued on.
  • Ship the finished product to P. E. I. to the distributors;
  • Print a second edition with minor corrections.


The Longevity of this Map Format

Although very large maps drawn and painted on fabric-backed paper attached to wooden rollers had been frequently manufactured since the Seventeenth Century at least, none had ever been mass-produced in such numbers and with such an abundance of extraneous details, except perhaps for some of the Dutch wall maps seen in Vermeer’s paintings. Some of these early European maps intended for heavy handling might have had their surfaces protected by a coat of clear varnish. It is difficult for us to imagine how dirty, with oily sooty deposits, the hands of even silk-dressed aristocrats could be in those days of infrequent bathing. The people for whom the Lake Map was made had similar personal hygiene problems and everything they touched was smudged. Until the Twentieth Century effective soaps that cleaned deeply were unknown.

It is little wonder then that the manufacturers of the Lake Map decided to to varnish its surface so that it would appear brighter and more appealing but also so that smears and stains of all sorts could be wiped away without abrading the original paper surface of the map.

The varnish used was very successful in brightening things up and facilitating cleaning, but it was a chemically unstable compound which, when essential solvents evaporated in time, became turned a brownish colour, became very brittle and cracks began to appear.

If this were not bad enough the cloth backing, attached with animal or wheat flour glue, responded dramatically to changes in temperature and humidity and soon ripples, then sharp creases began to appear, causing more breaks in the lacquer. If there were damp patches on the wall where the map hung, the moisture would be transferred to the cotton backing, then penetrate to the map surface, leaving dark fungal stains behind the varnish. Soon, constant use of the map, rolling and unrolling it repeatedly, cause broken pieces of lacquered paper to flake off, leaving missing portions of map surface as you can see in the above detail of the top left corner of the map.


The 1863 Lake Map at UPEI

For years students wanting to experience the the overwhelming physical reality of the Lake map have gone to the Robertson Library at UPEI. There they were greeted with this huge, four by six feet brown vision. Because of low lighting required to preserve works of art on paper it was not really possible to garner much information from the map.

The University, responding generously to the need of Islanders, especially genealogists, to have access to this map, set up a Lake Map site in their web page, Island Imagined.

There you can find an essay on the history and nature of the map, but most importantly you will be given, in a variety of ways, full highly-detailed access to every part of the map by means of a zoom-in feature commonly used in pdf files and the “File Explore” feature of Microsoft WINDOWS. So generous is the University that it allows you to download the complete HUGE file of the map as a jpg.

The Island Register, a volunteer group operating through the auspices of the Public Archives, also, through the work of Dave Hunter and by Garth Bulman, has put online huge black and white photos of all the individual lots.


The University’s Map is Laminated

There is a sad story connected to the UPEI map which I tell to you from what I believe to be an accurate memory, but not supported by any documentation. In the 1930s, with new developments in cellulose acetate laminating compounds, many unique historical documents were laminated with a thin clear layer of plastic that would, it was believed, preserve the document for all time. In 1947, the Library of Congress laminated one of its most significant treasures – Jefferson’s handwritten draft of the Declaration of Independence. Document followed document and no questions were asked until art conservators in the 1960s noticed that the laminate, an unstable compound, was causing irreparable damage. The story of reversing these laminations is still an ongoing issue.


TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP/ OF/ PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND/ IN THE/ Gulf of Saint Lawrence/ From actual Surveys/ and the late Coast Survey/ of Capt. H. W. Bayfield/ BY D. J. LAKE C. E./ Published by/ W E & H H Baker/ ST. JOHN, N.B./ J. SCHEDLER, MAP ENGR./ LITHOGRAR./ 120 Pearl Str. N York/ 1863. Approx. 193 x 123 cm (4 x 6 feet), Robertson Library, UPEI.

UPEI, to preserve its very good copy of the Lake map from further deterioration, was convinced to have it laminated. What we see today is the result of this optimistic decision.


I attempt a Digital Cleanup of the Lake Map

For some time I wondered whether the great UPEI photograph of the Lake Map could be digitally processed to remove the dark brown tonality so that individuals wanting to study the map in detail could do so with less distraction. I also was very keen to restore, for aesthetic reasons, that image to something resembling its original appearance.

Using Adobe Photoshop Elements and other image processing software, I was able to lift the brown tonality, exposing the hand-coloured, very complicated composite in a manner that related to its original appearance, before the varnish and the plastic lamination decomposed.

This is the result I achieved after a number of experiments. I don’t believe that I can improve upon it significantly, but others, more skilled in digital restoration, will be able to take this much farther on in clarity and contrast.

1863 Lake Map UPEI – Porter cleaning.pdf

The above pdf can be explored in the usual manner, once the file is opened, of using the magnification feature to zoom into the picture. If you have the necessary software to convert this pdf into a jpg file, then you can use Windows File Explorer tab to open the jpg. Then you have unlimited access to all parts of the map in the same manner that you can zoom in and out and move rapidly from place to place on a Google Maps site.

I will begin my examination of the map by studying the cartouche for what it tells us, but first I want to indicate that all the Lake graphics I will be using in my discussion will be from my digitally cleaned map.


The Cartouche

The cartouche is attractive, with the information it contains well-organised. Its title reveals to us the cartographer’s intent in presenting us with topographical information.

Topography is a Greek word that means writing about or describing a place. The word has been around since the Middle Ages and has undergone many changes in meaning. It is usually associated with maps because of the very extensive, almost encyclopedic knowledge that can be placed on them. Over the years, but not so much anymore, topography was concerned not only with the natural landscape and changes to the land, but also local history, and even culture in the marking of schools and churches and other cultural features on the land.

Lake’s title, meant to tell you at a glance what the map is all about, is TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND IN THE Gulf of Saint Lawrence From actual Surveys and the late Coast Survey of Capt. H. W. Bayfield BY D. J. LAKE C. E. Published by W E & H H Baker ST. JOHN, N.B. J. SCHEDLER, MAP ENG[INEE]R. LITHOGRA[PHE]R. 120 Pearl Str. N York 1863.

The designer of the cartouche used about 8 different fonts to produce this highly ornamental focal point, even resorting to two different nearly illegible newly-fashionable Gothic Revival fonts. From Roman to Copperplate to Gothic, the designer was determined to be all things to all men.

Just below the base of the cartouche, and really part of it, is a lovely lithographic sketch of Province House, the seat of Island Government. The artist is not identified, however – and this raises questions about the history of the printing of the Lake map . There was a second printing that corrected at least one error or omission on the map. The picture of Province House was taken from a photograph by George P. Tanton, an English photographer who had set up a business in Charlottetown in 1851. I have not yet been able to find this photograph in any public collection. To date there has been no significant study of Tanton’s work, nor have the majority of his photographs been identified, except for the highly finished little carte de visite portrait photographs he produced for his clients, such as these.

Here is Lake’s map corrected, in what must have been a second edition, with Tanton being given credit for his photograph of Province House.

There must have been a very tense scene when the publisher of the map did not give credit to George Tanton, who had taken the photograph of the Colonial Building which was used as the basis to make the lithograph drawing. We know this because the map at UPEI, reproduced above, does not give credit to Tanton, while we find this corrected omission remedied in the map owned by Garth Bulman published in the Island Register. This is also the case with the map I studied in 1994 with a view to advising a client on the possibilities of having it restored. Above is the picture I took at that time, showing the cracking, creases, and yellowed varnish – and Tanton’s name.


Prince Edward Island on the Lake Map

The American Cartographer, D. Jackson Lake, a native of Newtown, Connecticut was given equal status as Captain Bayfield as surveyor of the Island. As far as I can discover, this project was early in Lake’s career. Lake went on to produce an important map five-foot square map of Boston and its environs in 1867 and also a map of the complete United States in 1874. By 1870 he had become a county atlas publisher who would be extremely productive in the next seven years. The link below contains information about his subsequent projects.


The Outline Map

Lake suggests that he used the Bayfield hydrographic surveys along with his own mapping to produce the map of the Island. He would have had no end of reference material to establish the Island outline, starting with Bayfield’s work, Cundall’s 1851 map, Wright’s map of 1852, and the great reworking of Wright’s map by Cundall in 1861. The latter would have been vital as it became available at the beginning of the Lake survey.

I was interested in Lake’s dependence on Bayfield, and when I compared his soundings around the shore of Lot 1, which incorporates the location where the Gulf of Saint Lawrence veers off to become Northumberland Strait, I found that Lake had followed Bayfield’s soundings almost exactly, from Miminigash, to North Cape and down to Cape Kildare. Lake did not extend the soundings beyond the depths closest to the shore but limited himself to two ranks of figures. I rather think that the ambitious Lake used the famous Bayfield data for snob appeal as he embarked on this truly large project. One should add that he could just as easily have gotten his soundings from Wright’s maps of 1852 and 1861, and maybe did do that. After all, they were adjusted to the latest nautical information available at the time.


The Interior of the Island

The map is handsomely drawn although pushed to the limits where the Island touches the border. The tip of Lot 1 is cut off, as are the sides of Lots 7 and 8. Southern Queen’s and King’s County barely make it and East Point appears by the Grace of God and a push through the lined border of the map. I have no idea why the border limits were so pushed except perhaps to make more room for the many names of proprietors that had to be inscribed in the lots. The Lots are all clearly identified, as are the other components of this British feudal organisation, the Counties with their capitals and Royalties. Charlottetown, as the only developed city, is given a proper grid icon and across the harbour, the site of Port la Joy and Fort Amherst are indicated.

Probably the most astonishing feature of the Lake map is that, for the first time ever, most of the individuals who held title to farms and properties were identified. This must have been a nightmare to transfer to paper, even with the results of the 1861 Census at hand. The cartographers working on this project would have had access, in various government departments, to those huge lot surveys conducted during the past 30 or so years.

For example, the extremely detailed survey of all pieces of land in the Palmer and Cunard lot survey (PARO) discussed in another post could be compared to Lake’s representation of Lot 1 on his map.


This inclusion of names has been of the greatest use to genealogists and accounts for the map’s great popularity over the years, and the efforts made to make all the minuscule information available to researchers. Of all the Island maps produced to this date, this one goes straight to the heart.

Here are a couple of detals of the map containing familiar territory in its 1860s guise. This was the configuration around New London Bay at that time.

We rarely hear anything about land-locked Lot 67 where so many Irish settlers went to live. Its hills are rich with good quality sandstone that is currently being quarried for the inner walls of the Province House restoration.

And this is the area around Saint Peter’s Bay, which had seen regular settlement possibly from late Seventeenth Century times.


The Problem of a Home for the Mi’kmaq

All attempts to provide a central home for the Mi’kmaq up to this time had failed, and the Lake map shows a number of buildings on Lennox Island – such a bone of contention – but no names are provided.

It was not until 1873, the year the Island joined Confederation, that the Aboriginal Protection Society of London, an organisation pledged to improve the lot of the indigenous peoples in any way they could, purchased Lennox Island for the Mi’kmaq. Lennox Island was the first reserve in Canada to be owned by its own people.


Other Maps Packed into the Available Space

The Lake map has plans for the county capitals with their royalties and 25 villages. To show you the quality and variety of these maps I will insert several of them that I find important or interesting.

The capital city, Charlottetown is, in my opinion, the most perfect city ever planned for what would in time become Canada. The basic plan, inspired by the writings of Vitruvius, a Roman architect from the time of Christ, and by the setup of Roman military camps throughout the Empire, was in its final form before the end of the Eighteenth Century. Decade after decade the plan was followed, without any significant changes, to this day. It is a perfect city of the European Enlightenment that circumstances and geography caused to survive intact for over 250 years. This is how Lake and his team saw the city.

It is possible to walk about town with this map today, and with a basic knowledge of architectural history, identify specific buildings included by Lake in his map.


Something quite curious happened after Lake published his map. Welsh-born Robert Harris (1849 – 1919), who would become one of the most prominent Canadian artists of his day, decided that he would produce a plan of the city in watercolour. That plan survives and is in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery collection. (Since the Centre does not have a quality scan of the map, I took this photograph of the framed map through glass.)

What was the fifteen-year-old Harris trying to do? Copy Lake? Improve or correct some errors? I have not been able to find out the reason, but this lovely watercolour compares very favourably with the professional lithograph. In the future I hope to obtain reliable measurements of each map and see if they are related in size. I hope also to compare them side by side to see if there are any significant differences.


The Royalty Maps.

A royalty is an old surveying term that designates certain lands reserved for the Crown, usually for future expansion of a settlement. Between the town boundary and the royalty there may be an area of common ground where city dwellers might keep farm animals. All three county capitals on Saint John’s Island had extensive royalties attached to them. For Charlottetown, aside from having several grand suburban estates carved out of the whole, the royalty served its purpose and Greater Charlottetown today is an Eighteenth-Century dream come true: the city expanded exactly where it was meant to expand. Here is the Charlottetown Royalty as it appears in the Lake map.

There is another royalty map that is full of interest and complicated history. It is that of Princetown or Malpeque, as we call it today – or do we?

Princetown never took hold as a county capital. Acadians, and Basques before them, lived in that area as well as the Mi’kmaq. Even after the Deportation Acadians continued to settle in the area and the name Malpeque got transferred from the original vague settlement across the Bay. It happened that St. Eleanors was more conveniently located to serve as a County Seat and by 1833 served as administrative centre until 1876. What happened to Princetown/Malpeque? The historian Early Lockerby has been studying the fate of Malpeque for years and has written a great deal about various aspects of its history over the years. Below are references to relevant articles.


Some of the other Community Maps that appear in the Greater Map.

Twenty-five communities subscribed to have maps of their towns and villages inserted in whatever space was available. They vary in size because of the space available with all the other elements in place, but also the size would have depended on cost. Pay more, get more.

One immediately ask WHY did those communities subscribe to have their town plan included while so many others did not. Did the Lot Proprietors have anything to do with it, perhaps wishing to advertise to future settlers the kind of villages that already existed in their township? There is a considerable amount of work and speculation that needs to be done regarding these questions. For the moment, and to keep these questions fresh in the mind and the eye, I insert this very poor map coloured with a marker to show the distribution across the Island of the Lake village plans, and also a table to show in whose lots these villages are located. This may or may not be relevant to this story.

Here is the complete list of all the community maps, along with the Lots in which they are found.

Alberton, Lot 4
Annandale, Lot 56
Bridgetown, Lots 54 and 55
Campbellton, Lot 4
Centreville (see Bedeque), Lot 26
Central Bedeque, Lot 26
Cornwall, Lot 32
Crapaud, Lot 29
Graham Corner (see Clifton), Lot 21
Margate, Lot 19
Montague, Lots 52 and 59
Morell, Lot 40
Mt. Stewart, Lot 37
New Glasgow, Lot 23
New London, Lots 20 and 21
Pownal, Lot 49
Souris, Lots 44 and 45
Stanley Bridge, Lot 21
Stratford or Southport, Lot 48
St. Eleanors, County Seat of Prince County until 1876
St. Peters, Lot 41
Summerside, 1876 County Seat
Travelers Rest, Lot 19
Victoria, Lot 29
Wheatley River, Lot 24


Georgetown was planned as a county capital and so was given an exceptionally fine grid plan of the kind, like Charlottetown, that was placed next to water. That indicated at once that the seaside would be the commercial and industrial centre of the town. In the beginning there were no roads, only ancient aboriginal tracts adapted by the French and English. Even in 1860 the road system was perilous at best.

The city is planned very much like Charlottetown, with the focus being on the great central square was named after Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent and Strathearn – and father the future Queen Victoria. The plan of the square indicates that there was a courthouse and jail (designed by Isaac Smith after an design by John Plaw), a school, an Academy, and an Episcopalian Church. At the very centre of the square, just as there originally was in Charlottetown, was the market. If you look at the Google aerial photo you can get a clear idea of what has survived and what has not.

Georgetown, like Princetown, although officially designated as perfect places of county capitals, did not thrive, and so grew insignificantly through the years. In time Souris took over as the King’s County Port while Montague took over a secondary but important role as the county commercial centre.


St. Eleanors

The origins of the name of St. Eleanors are obscure but are probably late Eighteenth Century. By 1833 it had become the County Seat, with a courthouse and jail, also designed by Isaac Smith and a fine Gothic Revival Episcopalian Church. Its importance lay that it was directly on the road that would eventually provide access to Prince County – the Great Western Road – that would lead into what was to become modern Tignish.

A photograph of Isaac Smith’s courthouse, contemporary with this map, exists, and in it you can see the jail, inspired by John Plaw’s Courthouse in Charlottetown and the high jail yard.

Today, if you study the Google aerial map of the region you can see why Princetown, intended from the start, to be the county town, was ignored for the purely practical reason of not having a new and important road running through it. It had become a backwater.



The Town of Summerside was established in a half-hearted grid plan around 1852. The focus is on the waterfront, which is very well articulated, and the major businesses are connected to transport by sea and the mercantile activities resulting from this massive influx of goods.



A miniature version of Summerside, and established about the same time, is Victoria, which was built on a small and tidy grid plan with no pretension to central square.

In time it would become a backwater until the 1980s when residents began to develop the obvious advantages that such a place, in the most picturesque spot, filled with mature trees and historic buildings could provide to the tourist industry, new people moved in and opened a guest house, others manufactured chocolate sweets and others concentrated on history, turning the local lighthouse into a community museum.


I will conclude this rapid exploration of Lake’s 25 community maps by looking at a new settlement that characterised Island infrastructure progress on the eve of Confederation.



A few kilometres northeast of Cardigan, where Lots 54 and 55 join together, around 1860 – just in time to celebrate the event in Lake – a long-awaited bridge was built across the Boughton River. In jubilation – what else? – the settlement that resulted was named Bridgetown!

At first glance Bridgetown looks much the same today as it did 158 years ago, but closer examination reveals that it has diminished from its bridge-building day of glory. The lime kiln is gone, as is the post office, the shipyards, the stores and the churches.

But the beautiful countryside, with its large variety of topographical features remains to be enjoyed.


Reference Material found on the Lake Map.

To conclude this brief study of the Lake map I will mention the other sorts of information squeezed into every available space in these 4 x 6 feet wonder. They have all been collected and transcribed in The Island Register and can be consulted at their Lake Map site below.  There are lists of prominent people who no doubt paid to have their names and titles included. Business Directories for the major towns and small communities are also listed. There is a summary of the Census of 1861, showing a total population of 80, 552 persons. Most importantly, for the days of 1864, and the future, there is a complete list of the Proprietors of the various Townships or Lots. I conclude my examination of the Lake Map with an image of this list. The Colony was breathlessly on the verge of political change on the eve of being invited to join Canada along with the other British Colonies.


Prince Edward Island, never one to move fast on any issue, held its breath for another 9 years.


The Lake Map marks a very important moment in the evolution of Island cartography, first, because for the first time on a commercial map, an attempt is made to list the people who own or rent the land from the proprietors. That has been its chief attraction over the years. Genealogists have flocked to discover and record the first tangible appearance of their ancestors on a public document. The great colonial dream was truly born.

There is much more yet to be discovered in the Lake Map, and that concerns the 25 communities that were able to pay the subscription price for having their village surveyed. Why did they do it? It seems to me that there is a message here that has yet to be deciphered by future historians of the Island. For me it is a great mystery that will continue to attract my attention in the time ahead. I will continue to marvel that at this moment in history, an American cartographic business, booked for years to produce huge maps of various state counties across the United States, would choose, as a possible client, the only part of Canada that, because of its insular nature, was unique as a territory, and completely self-contained.



The Lake Map has received enormous attention from genealogists over the years because great-grandparents can be located in the landscape and villages can be explored as they were in the 1860s.

The first project to make all this detailed information available to the public was in 2003 when Dave Hunter and Garth Bulman collected rare information and made it available online The Island Register:

This site is still active, and you can download large black and white photos of each lot.


The University of Prince Edward Island, which owns the only copy available to the public for study, later made its map available digitally in Island Imagined:

The software on this site enables you to explore the entire map in as much detail as you like because of a zoom-in feature.


My blog post describes the Lake Map in the context of its time, in an approach that is art historical rather than genealogical. It is also possible to do research on the digitally cleaned-up version of the UPEI copy using the pdf file I supply.



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