Spread 'em out and you will find: Maps Lie. Always.

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Anyway you do it, when you take a representation down a scale (off of the 1:1 of real life), you lose something. Sometimes you make choices. Sometimes these are deliberate misleadings.
GPS is even worse. Don't get me started. Mountains on the southern horizon and wet pine needles blanketing the signals. Tiny screen showing direction and roads. No cliffs, no landmarks, no horizon. Usually no signal.

I said, don't get me started...

Check out Mark Monmonier's book "How To Lie With Maps".

You'll be stunned at how much distortion there really is - political, copyright, economic....

  How To Lie With Maps by Mark Monmonier   

These are the other principle mountains from the novel:

Mt. Gordon

Mt. Forbes

Mt. Columbia

Mt. Hooker

Mt. Brown

Many thanks to Dave Birrel's PeakFinder.com - the best resource for Canadian Rockies history and mountain facts on the web.

I have included the slides from one of the presentations I give - this one focuses on the Hooker & Brown maps.
You can click on some of the images to see a higher resolution map, but most have been scanned and the resolution will never be magazine worthy...

I call the presentation "Unsolving the Mystery" because, in a way, the map distortion didn't clarify, but actually created the mystery.
Looking at these again, it has the ability to reinspire the curiosity to wonder what is really there.

This is a map of the Canadian Rockies in 1844. This was what was known, and thus, the common belief.
There are no mountains as we know them, excepting the two giants of Brown (at 16,000 ft.), and Hooker (at 15,700 ft.)
Mt. Robson, which we know as the tallest, is 12,973 ft. So Brown was over a kilometer taller!
How did this come about?

William Darton - Comparative Heights (1823 - London)
Europeans at this time were in the age of Empires, (though the Matterhorn would not be climbed until 1865)
and they were measuring the lengths of the rivers and the heights of mountains for God and Country and comparing them to each other.
There was a natural competative tendancy not to question miraculous findings.

By 1829, the rumours of Hooker and Brown had not quite percolated back to the east and civilized world.
Jacob A Cummings - Comparative Heights (1829 - New York)

But they sure had fifteen years later.
This was a carefully mapped area of the frontier of the North-West of North-America by the famous (and oprolific) mapmake John Arrowsmith (London - 1844).
Of course, almost no one had actually been there. And the fur trade was dying out - from over hunting, to a shift in fashion away from top hats.
The political fact of Canada is barely established and the British Columbia border has not been surveyed,
mainly because British Columbia has not yet agreed to be part of the federation of Canadian provinces (1871).
People from Saskatchewan may be pleased to see that their province is essentially all of Western Canada at this point in time.
(We’re still 50 years before Alberta was demarked and incorporated as a province).

So if we were to use Google Earth (circa 1840) we would have seen something like this.
Who among us would not want to go find those two!
I think this would have fired the imagaination of even the most sedentary person.

Evolving Maps

How our ancestors saw the world through maps and what it tells us about them.

1300 AD – a map of Vinland drawn by a dying monk – purporting to show the Viking knowledge of 1000 AD.
The Vinland Map was discovered in 1957, bound up with a manuscript of undisputed antiquity, the Historia Tartorum.
The map supposedly is a 15th century copy of a 13th century world map, showing the known parts of Europe, Asia and Africa,
as well as an unknown land across the Atlantic Ocean labeled Vinland.
The map also mentions that Vinland was visited in the 11th century.

This is what the Vinland Map covers of North America.
So very little was known of this continent in the 1300s. Mostly heresay.
Hopes for a fast ship route to China, to bypass the long route around Africa (and the treacherous horn) and all the middlemen.
This hope drove expedtions, but also coloured the maps - showing what people wanted to be.

Giovanni Caboto, known as John Cabot, Venetian, set out from Bristol, and explored Newfoundland and the St Lawrence.
His aim was to find and claim the West Indies – trade with Asia – before the Spanish and Portuguese claimed it all.
The need was to claim as much as possible, and to show the riches evident.
That is why the Gulf of St. Lawrence in this map could swallow Spain and Portugal together. t is more a reflection of Cabot's hope to get more funding.
It is also interesting to see how he has named so many features on the coast - naming bequeaths ownership.

This is the extent of Cabot's discovery of North America.

Jacques Cartier, explored the Eastern Seaboard and inland to Montreal.
His map is upside down, oriented to the south again (based around pole star at bottom)
This map is claiming not only the land, but showing that the French are partners with the original owners.
As well, naming every bay implies ownership. In order to justify the exploration’s expenses, he overestimated the mineral wealth of the land.

This is Cartier's map overlaid on North America. Progress in mapping and knowledge was like our knowledge of Mars.

1566 - Spanish View – they were deep into the continent before the French and English.
But the map, even if it looks like they knew the coast lines, is still very much a part of their imagination –
they are placing mountains, for example, anywhere they see fit. They recognize New France, but by the implicit claim
that they know what is there, they claim ownership.

1759 - After the Conquest (the English victory over the French at Quebec in 1759),
the traders poured in. Little was known beyond the Great Lakes.
Rupert’s Land was anything that drained into Hudson’s Bay, so the Hudson Bay company was chartered to exploit the furs there.
They had no idea what was there, they just claimed it by virtue of the river drainage.

1814 - David Thompson is celebrated because he was the first to produce a map of the North-West (basically all of unexplored Canada).
But not only was it accurate, he was one fo the few that did not embellish.
His map is perfect for showing exactly what was, not what he wanted or believed or hoped or feared.
He was driven by curiosity and captured only exactly what he touched.

Close Up - Most importantly, in this close up, he did not name mountains, or seek their elevations.
They were a barrier to trade, but he found the ways through.
What happened after him was typical – the stories told of the trail started to reflect the agendas of the travelers –
what they needed to be seen as when they came home, what they wanted to have Canada seen for so they could raise interest in their endeavors.
Something happened here – the legend of the crossing through the Rockies grew to claim that the pass existed between two gigantic mountains,
“Hooker & Brown”, and they were the tallest in the Americas.

To put Thompson's acheievement in perspective - his map was the first to overlay the entire
area of Canada. And his maps were so accurate that they were used for another 100 years.
Not bad for a guy with a compass and watch, noting every turn of a river from a canoe, and plotting longitude with a sextamt over the prarie each day!

Representative Maps

How maps have always been more about the reflection of the mapmaker than the land they attempt to portray (sins of ommission / sins of commission)

Topographic maps don’t even show the whole truth. No map ever has – always there is agenda, or distortion.
Here's Mt. Assiniboine, with the topo map for that area.

Mount Assinaboine Mount Assinaboine Cleaned Mount Assinaboine Topo Mount Assinaboine Map Reality   

This is all it's really
telling you about the mountain.

1450 – Fra Mauro - Map of Europe and Africa. Oriented with South at the top, centered around Jerusalem. Their reality was oriented to the Orient – the the Garden of Eden – the center of the world.

In 1570 - 200 years before the Montgolfier brothers launched their first balloon (in 1783) - a map of London was published.
This is not from a tower or any other platform. So this map is entirely within the imagination of men.

By 1750 the Chinese had taken the perspective mapping even farther, drawing what could only be imagined from near-space.

Sefirotic Tree - The emanations of creation are ten in number, and are called Sephiroth.
This is a map to the will of the Creator, in the eyes of the Qabalahists.
This is not the first attempt to map human concepts and divinity into a related structure, or to then lay them onto the Earth, or to imagine a crystalline mesh of energy flows.
This is just one view of many, and it tries to answer deeper concerns we have about our world, and perhaps reflect the hope we have as well.
Note how certain cities are aligned with certain attributes.

There are different ways of making maps.
This shows a perfect example – a drawing of a shell and stick map for the islanders of the South Pacific.
They could actually tell where an island was hundreds of miles away by the way the waves refracted off them.
This is an understanding of some pretty serious physics, but to read that in the waves in the middle of the open ocean is nothing short of astonishing.
This map depicts a portion of the Southern Pacific, where shells are islands and the sticks show the diffraction of waves.

Simple geometric shapes known to the Greeks and Egyptians, and found near neo-lithic stone circles and observatories
have some people combining them together to show how this depicts the creation of the Earth –
so in many ways is similar to the previous maps which seek to explain the mystery of creation.

Patrick Gunkel, from MIT, is trying to look at all sorts of phenomena in a mapping sense. Here is his attempt to map the Sources of Beauty.
So anything can be mapped, and in fact we do try to map everything.
Even when we look at how the early explorers looked at our land of Canada, and assume that the maps just showed the physical truth, we do see their imaginations, for hope, fear, and curiosity revealed.

Maps of the Canadian West

How the maps of the Rockies evolved with Hooker & Brown.

Close up of the 1844 Arrowsmith map. The only mountains that have heights at all, on the entire map, are Hooker and Brown.
The arrows show them on the Continental Divide.
At this point the fur trade is winding down, and the maps are closely guarded secrets.
The maps are mostly drawn by subjective journal claims.

1855 - But even by 1855 the mountains are not known. The knowledge has disappeared. All that is left are two giants.
At this time Alaska is owned by the Russians. (sold in 1868)

1861 - Hooker and Brown persist, with their heights sometimes listed to an exact measure, even though this was not possible.
More imagination: in this case, purported accuracy sells maps. Who was there to challange this?
Note that apart from Murchison, there are no other known mountains at this time.

1863 - Palliser and Hector were the only ones to travel and map in the times between the fur trade and the railway surveyors.

1864 - James Hector’s section of the expedition was bordered to the North by Hooker & Brown.
1864 - AJ Johnson - Comparative Heights
Hector was to explore everything south of the two giants, and north of the Bow river.
He never saw them, having reached the confluence of the Athabasca and the Whirlpool river.
He had no time to explore up the valley of the Whirlpool to Athabasca Pass, and could see nothing because of the mountains in front of him.
He tried climbing a mountain to see if he could see the peaks, but ran out of time.
His Indian guide claimed two giant peaks stood there, however, and because all the aneroid barometers had been broken on the travel across the Prairie,
Hector had no way of determining altitude.
To be safe, having no evidence to the contrary, he included (without marking them as questionable) the two peaks.
The Blue Book report was presented to Parliament but soon forgotten.
Maps rarely are, however, and this on seems to take on the credibility of the Palliser Expedition and claim that nothing but those two giants stand there.
Hector would not have agreed with that conclusion.

1871 - Hard to see, but yes there are two large snow covered peaks right where Hooker and Brown should be.
So even the official government maps, that sought to bring BC into confederation supported (or propagated) this legend.
And why not? They seemed reasonable, and why would any government (or people) tone down grand claims within their own territory.
But with the passing of the years and each new map, the legend becomes reality and harder to disprove.

1897 - A print from an old school textbook atlas.
The main route of the railway is defined, and the only elevation is for Mt. Hooker, 2000 feet higher that the unmarked Mt. Robson (surveyed in 1872) and far higher.
So this is what every kid in Eastern Canada grew up believing. This is what Arthur Coleman saw and believed.
It would be like us, learning and knowing of Everest all our lives, going to Nepal, trekking to the Everest valley, and finding nothing of significance.

1902 - And what is left? This beautiful map still carries the hope, promise, and need of the two high peaks.

1920 - Even 20 years later, the atlases are giving Hooker and Brown more due than they’ve earned, perhaps out of respect to their reputation, or maybe because map makers don’t like change so much.

This is a wall map that was taken down in 1968. The map is still showing information from the 1920s.
And, in fact, still shows, not Assiniboine, Forbes, Columbia, or Robson, but Hooker & Brown, as the defining peaks of the Canadian Rockies.