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Banner: Pathfinders and Passageways: The Exploration of Canada About This Site
The Mapmakers: An Essay in Four Parts
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About This Site

The men and women who have contributed to the exploration of this country are innumerable. For this presentation, a selection has been made of those considered to have directly furthered the geographical understanding of what is now Canada.

In most cases, the explorers' published accounts of their travels are held in the National Library's Rare Book Collection and excerpts from these accounts are featured here. Where these do not exist, manuscript selections, or citations from works published by their contemporaries are included. Artistic works, maps, and artefacts are displayed throughout the site, many coming from the National Library's Rare Book Collection.

The site is supplemented by thematic essays on mapmaking and transportation, as well texts on other topics recurrent in the history of exploration in Canada.

Translations of rare book extracts have been included only where such translations have previously been published.


We gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of the Department of Canadian Heritage, whose Canadian Digital Cultural Content Initiative (CDCCI) made Pathfinders and Passageways: The Exploration of Canada possible.

Author and Reviewer

Conrad E. Heidenreich is Professor of Historical Geography at York University. He has taught and published extensively on the historical geography of Canada from pre-European times to mid 19th century. He specializes in the exploration and mapping of Canada, and Native cultures to end of the French regime. (Maps texts, "The Mapmakers: An Essay in Four Parts")


Daniel Francis, a Vancouver writer, is the author of twelve books on Canadian history and is the editorial director of the Encyclopedia of British Columbia. (Transportation texts, "Furs of Gold", "The Hudson's Bay Company", "The North West Company", "Surviving the Arctic")

Michelle Guitard is a freelance historian who has worked with such cultural institutions as Parks Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Archives of Canada and the Ministry of Culture and Communication of Quebec. She was the curator of an exhibit at the National Library on the explorers of Canada and their published works. (Exploration texts)

Olaf Janzen is Professor of History at Memorial University. His research specialty is eighteenth-century Newfoundland, specifically settlement history, piracy, privateering, and the defence of Newfoundland during that period. ("The Vinland Sagas", "Waters of Riches", "The Fabled Northwest Passage", "Attempts at Settling the New Land", "Scurvy: Scourge of the Voyagers")


Michel Brisebois is curator of the Rare Book Collection at the National Library of Canada.


This page provides a list of thumbnail image of the material found on the Pathfinders and Passageways: The Exploration of Canada website. The following details usually accompany each thumbnail image:

  • A caption for, or description of, the item
  • The copyright notice for the item
  • The name of the copyright owner of the item
  • The reproduction credit for the item
  • The source of the item

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