1755 Bellin Map of the Great Lakes

Art on Sunday #23

A rare and extremely influential 1755 map of the Great Lakes drawn by Jacques Nicholas Bellin.

Partie Occidentale de la Nouvelle France ou du Canada.

After many years, I have recently been dabbling in genealogy.  My current focus is New France, where, in April 1657, a French soldier turned farmer, Pierre Couc dit Lafleur de Cognac,  married an Algonquin woman, Marie Mitéouamegoukoué, who had lost her first husband and two small children when a band of Iroquois warriors attacked her village several years before. While I don’t know that this couple are my ancestors for certain, there is a connection.  Now, if I can just find it.

The Art of Cartography – Until science claimed cartography, mapmaking and landscape painting were kindred activities, often performed by the same hand. …making a map invariably was an occasion for displaying artistry.1

A rare and extremely influential 1755 map of the Great Lakes drawn by Jacques Nicholas Bellin. This map, which appeared in the 1755 issue of the Homann Heirs Atlas Major, covers all five of the Great Lakes as well as the adjacent Indian lands and the English colonies of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. 2

This map enjoys lasting significance due to John Mitchell’s use of it in compiling his important wall map, A Map of the British & French Dominions in North America . Mitchell’s monumental cartographic masterpiece was used in 1783 to define the boundaries between Canada and the post-Revolutionary United States, forming the basis for national borders that are still in effect today.2


  1. Rees, Ronald, “Historical Links between Cartography and Art,” Geographical Review, Vol. 70, No. 1 (Jan., 1980), pp. 60-78
  2. Wikimedia Commons
art on sunday, canada, genealogy, history, maps
8 comments… add one
  • Hilary Dec 19, 2016

    Hi Mike – fascinating on two accounts … your ancestors and that map, or the chap and family behind the map and subsequent ones. Really interesting … the cartographers of their day were extraordinarily correct in their depictions … loved seeing this and your thought about relatives. Good luck with the search … am just glad now your name is Goad and not … … … cheers and Happy Christmas and festivities – Hilary
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    • Mike Dec 19, 2016

      Marie’s Indian name is pretty interesting.

      From the source document:

      The original marriage entry in the registers of Trois Rivières is recorded in Latin, so the name of the woman who married Pierre Couc is given as Mariam, the appropriate Latin feminine case form of French Marie. Her second name is given as Mitè8amèg8K8è nationè Algonquinam. The (17th century Latin) symbol that resembles /8/ actually looks somewhat like the Wingding symbol for Taurus; it represented the sound /OU/ or /W/ before a vowel, so her name is sometimes transcribed as Marie Mitéouamegoukoué. (Koué means woman, later corrupted into the noun squaw.)
      Mike recently posted…Eyes of the Great Depression 143My Profile

  • Bijoux Dec 20, 2016

    Old maps are always interesting. I did not realize that Detroit was so much older than Cleveland. Odd that the Cuyahoga River does not show up on that map, as it was a major transportation route for Native Americans.

    • Mike Dec 20, 2016

      The genealogy/history that I am looking at is interwoven with the early days of Fort Pontchartrain (Fort Detroit), including Antoine Laumet dit de Lamothe Cadillac who turns out to have not been a very nice guy. Once a popular historical hero, current history views him as one of the ‘worst scoundrels ever to set foot in New France.’ He was recalled to Quebec in 1704 to face charges of trafficking in alcohol and furs. Imprisoned for a time and recalled the France, he was cleared in 1705, returning to Fort Pontchartrain.

      One possible ancestor, half-Algonquin Isabelle/Elizabeth Couc dit Lafleur de Coignac, provided what we would call today a deposition for the investigation of Cadillac. It was not favorable for him and he responded with a long diatribe on her in written arguments, including the claim that she was kept “by more than a hundred men” (unlikely for a number of reasons).
      Mike recently posted…Eyes of the Great Depression 143My Profile

  • Hilary Dec 20, 2016

    Hi Mike – fascinating … I’d struggle with the Latin – but probably would cope in due time. Amazing you’ve been able to gather so much information … and I guess the sounds I’d get – if one can get round African names … then anything is possible … but I’m pleased to know about ‘squaw’ … and its corruption from Koue …

    Cheers and have a peaceful and happy festive time … Hilary
    Hilary recently posted…Good King Wenceslas last looked on the Feast of Stephen …My Profile

    • Mike Dec 20, 2016

      Actually, I came across a wonderful document by a lady who has gone though a lot of source documents, including some in French that it appears no one has ever considered in telling the story. I’m painstakingly go through the book, including pertinent information in my genealogy program. I’m up to page 75. It’s slow going.
      Mike recently posted…Eyes of the Great Depression 143My Profile

  • Maria Feb 13, 2017

    I’ve always envied those who can read maps with skill. For some reason, I could never quite get map reading……

    • Mike Feb 18, 2017

      And, these days, the need for reading maps when traveling is much reduced, if you navigate by GPS devices, as we do. We’ll be traveling along, guided by the directions given by the GPS and Karen will ask something like, “Which road are we taking?” to which I’ll — often as not — have to say, “I don’t know.”
      Mike recently posted…Eyes of the Great Depression 143My Profile

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