Eighteenth-century mapping of Cape Breton Island | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 12, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



This article examines historic changes occurring in Europe related to printing and cartography as they played out on Cape Breton Island during the eighteenth century. The research explores Cape Breton maps as one example of the reciprocal relationship between technologies, ideas and natural environments. The advent of print engendered a transformation in human thought that elevated rational, scientific ways of knowing. Technology and ideology worked hand in hand to reshape the world through the use of increasingly accurate maps to explore and exploit new territory. The gradual shift from imaginative to increasingly accurate cartographic representations reveals the blending and balancing of artistic and scientific sensibilities in Europe and the New World. Advances in Europeans’ ability to more accurately map trade routes led to expanded knowledge about the world, particularly about peripheral regions with strategic or commercial potential. Cape Breton maps illustrate changes occurring in Europe and intimate the global consequences of those changes. Cape Breton’s geographic positioning and abundant cod stocks made the island important to both France and England. Cape Breton maps evolved through an exchange of ideas occurring in both Europe and the New World, particularly at Louisbourg because of its pivotal role as a centre for trade and military activity in the Anglo-French competition for control of North America.


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