Cartography of St Clair [Great Lakes]

This part of the Canada / USA border has been the subject of much discussion.


National Archives, Ottawa: this has to be the primary source. A quick glance at "Admiralty" [dead link] and the subsection ADM 1. Admiralty & Secretariat: Papers and cartographic material [dead link] gives some idea of what may be available. The Bayfield references may or may not include the U of Toronto reference to "Track survey of the Lake & River St. Clair [map] / by Lieut. H. W. Bayfield, R. N. assisted by Lieut. H. Renny, R. E. ; J & C Walker sculpt. -- Reprinted by Great Lakes Cartographic Resource Centre, Map Library, Dept. of Geography, University of Western Ontario, 1986. Facsimile of map published in London by the Hydrographical Office, 23rd April, 1828."

  • The John Carter Brown Library; contact Susan Danforth assistant librarian for library operations / curator of maps and prints (401) 863-1557.
  • Osher Map Library, University of Southern Maine; contact (207) 780-4850 <>


The US David Rumsey Collection (biassed to the West coast) contains the John Melish, Map of Detroit River and Adjacent Country, 1815 from the National Atlas - poor scale.

The US Library of Congress has a set of "The American Revolution and Its Era: Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, 1750-1789" but it doesn't appear to include charts from this frontier in the detail required - try search "detroit"

The US Army Corps of Engineers did not start charting the St Clair / Detroit area until the 1850s

Pilot books:

Probably not very relevant, as the earliest?, limited to Lake Ontario, is the 1857 "The Harbours And Ports Of Lake Ontario, in a Series of Charts, Accompanied By A Description Of Each; Together With The Lighthouses, Harbour Lights, Depth Of Water, Courses And Distances, &c. &c. Compiled From Authentic Sources, The Charts Of Capt. Owen And Lieut. Herbert, From Recent Surveys. As Well As From Personal Observations" by Edward M. Hodder, M.D.

5th edition 1869 (date of first? 1860?) of Thompson's Coast Pilot: for the Upper Lakes, on both shores from Chicago to Buffalo, Green Bay, Georgian Bay, and Lake Superior; Including the Rivers Detroit, St. Clair and Ste. Marie, with the Courses and Distances on Lake Ontario, and other information relative thereto contains information relevant to St Clair on pages 88-90.

Other publications:

Dunnigan, Brian Leigh FRONTIER METROPOLIS, Picturing Early Detroit, 1701-1838, Detroit 2001. 287 color illus., oblong 13.5 x 18.5", cloth, 248pp. The author is the Curator of Maps at the University of Michigan and his office is on campus, more precisely at the William L. Clements Library, Ann Arbor, Mich.

The first American government survey of the U.S. / Canadian border after the Treaty of Ghent was not done until 1820; see Delafield, Joseph, The Unfortified Boundary, a Diary of the First Survey of the Canadian Boundary Line, New York, 1943



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