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Joseph Bouchette: Plan of York Harbour

Map: CAN2992
Cartographer: Joseph Bouchette
Title: Plan of York Harbour
Date: 1832
Published: London
Width: 9 inches / 23 cm
Height: 5 inches / 13 cm
Map ref: CAN2992
An early plan of the town and harbour of Toronto, formerly known as York, by Joseph Bouchette, the Surveyor-General of British North America.

The settlement of York (now Toronto) had only formally been established in 1793, just 22 years before this map was first published. As such, the city is still shown as a small area of gridded streets with an adjacent garrison and blockhouse.

Instead of focusing on the layout of the small town, Bouchette instead emphasizes the harbour, clearly marking its shoals, hazards, and depths. Bouchette was intimately familiar with York Harbour having earned great acclaim early in his career for raising a wrecked schooner, the Onondaga, in midwinter and sailing it all the way back to Niagara. For this impressive achievement he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. The location of the shipwreck and its eventual refloating are marked on this map by Bouchette. Two dashed lines also show where the ice was broken during the winter to keep the harbour clear.

This map was first published in 1815 by William Faden in Bouchette's important survey of Canada, Topographical Description of the province of Lower Canada. A further edition was published in 1832, the source of this particular example. Bouchette's book remains a valuable source of information about the early settlement of British Canada and some of his maps, for example those of Ottawa and Guelph, are the earliest printed plans of those cities.