course promotion poster with old map of CanadaInstructorDr. John C. Walsh

Introduction: This course explores cartographic historiographies of Canada from the 17th to 21st centuries. It does so with a firm conviction that maps are not merely representations of space but are also material objects that were historically made and remade, used and ignored, circulated and hidden, saved and discarded. By examining the making of maps, or what we shall call “mapping histories,” there is an opportunity to explore how various ways of knowing space were given cultural expression while other ways of knowing space were marginalized, silenced, or even ignored.  The last section of the course shifts the focus to consider how historians and others are using maps to represent the past, including applying techniques and technologies associated with Geographical Information System (G.I.S.).

Class Format: This seminar-style course features in-class discussions based on assigned readings and primary documents.

Aims and Goals: In readings, class discussions, and regular primary source exercises, students will be challenged to think about the following questions: 1) What do we see when we look at maps? 2) How might we “read” maps as historical evidence?  3) What kinds of cartographic histories have been told about Canada, and what histories still might be told?  4) How can historians re-present the past and our understanding of it with maps?  In lieu of a research essay, as is typical of a fourth-year seminar course, the final take-home exam provides students with an opportunity to apply the course readings, weekly reading responses, and in-class exercises to the analysis of pre-selected historical map collections.


  • Participation: 25% (weekly)
  • Five Reading Responses:  25% (5% each, weekly)
  • Final Take-Home Exam:  50% (due at end of Early Summer exam period)

Note on Attendance Policy:  due to the condensed nature of the course plus the premium placed on in-class work, absence from class except for documented medical or personal emergency reasons will result in a penalty of 5% from the final course mark for each class missed.

Text:  All readings will be made available digitally via the library catalogue.  Primary sources will also be electronic or held in the library collection.

Questions? Please email