1771 Bonne Map of the Hudson Bay, Canada

Partie De L'Amerique septentrionale, qui comprend le Canada, La Louisiane, Le Labrador, Le Greenland, La Nouvelle Angleterre, La Floride & C. - Main View

1771 Bonne Map of the Hudson Bay, Canada


Early map depicting the legendary Northwest passage.


Partie De L'Amerique septentrionale, qui comprend le Canada, La Louisiane, Le Labrador, Le Greenland, La Nouvelle Angleterre, La Floride & C.
  1771 (dated)     12.5 x 18 in (31.75 x 45.72 cm)     1 : 10050000


This is an important map of the Hudson Bay and the surrounding areas issued in 1771 by the French cartographer Rigobert Bonne. Covers much of what is today northeastern Canada from Lake Winnipeg to Greenland including all of Hudson Bay.

This region was a hotbed of exploration throughout the 18th century. French and English concerns in the New World were desperate for access to the Pacific and the rich Asian markets. These markets had long been dominated by the Spanish who had easy access to the Pacific via Mexico and South America. The French and English set their hopes on a Northwest Passage. By the late 18th century the search for a route through the high Arctic had long been abandoned. Instead, explorers and theoretical cartographers believed that a water route might be found among the elaborate network of lakes and rivers that meandered through central Canada. Our map shows evidence of some of this exploration, particularly the travels of the Quebec born Pierre de La Verendrye and his sons around Lake Nipigon (Lac Alimipigon), the Lake of the Woods (Lac des Bois), and Lake Winnipeg (Lac Ouinipigon and Lac Bourbon).

The British were equally active further north. A red dotted line encircles the Hudson Bay indicating the lands claimed by the Hudson Bay Company. In the southern part of Baffin Bay there is a note in French reading (in transliteration) that the 'English search for a passage here.' This refers to the De Fonte legend of a northwest passage.

De Fonte was a 17th century Spanish navigator who, the tale goes, discovered a Northwest Passage by sailing up the Pacific Coast. Originally navigators sought the eastern entrada into the De Fonte channels in the Hudson Bay, but failing to find it, moved their searches further north into Baffin Bay - as hinted here. Bonne never gave the De Fonte legend significant credence though he clearly felt compelled to at least mention it on this map.

Our map additionally names various American Indian nations throughout as well as French and English forts throughout. There are also a number of notations regarding various explorations in the Hudson Bay, the Arctic, and on land.

A decorative title cartouche appears in the top left hand quadrant. Drawn by R. Bonne in 1771 for issue as plate no. A 32 in Jean Lattre's Atlas Moderne.


Rigobert Bonne (October 6, 1727 - September 2, 1794) was one of the most important French cartographers of the late 18th century. Bonne was born in Ardennes à Raucourt, France. He taught himself mathematics and by eighteen was a working engineer. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 - 1748) he served as a military engineer at Berg-op-Zoom. It the subsequent years Bonne became one of the most respected masters of mathematics, physics, and geography in Paris. In 1773, Bonne succeeded Jacques-Nicolas Bellin as Royal Cartographer to France in the office of the Hydrographer at the Depôt de la Marine. Working in his official capacity, Bonne compiled some of the most detailed and accurate maps of the period - most on an equal-area projection known erroneously as the 'Bonne Projection.' Bonne's work represents an important step in the evolution of the cartographic ideology away from the decorative work of the 17th and early 18th century towards a more scientific and practical aesthetic. While mostly focusing on coastal regions, the work of Bonne is highly regarded for its detail, historical importance, and overall aesthetic appeal. Bonne died of edema in 1794, but his son Charles-Marie Rigobert Bonne continued to publish his work well after his death. More by this mapmaker...

Jean Lattré (170x - 178x) was a Paris based bookseller, engraver, globe maker, calligrapher, and map publisher active in the mid to late 18th century. Lattré published a large corpus of maps, globes, and atlases in conjunction with a number of other important French cartographic figures, including Janvier, Zannoni, Bonne and Delamarche. He is also known to have worked with other European cartographers such as William Faden of London and the Italian cartographer Santini. Map piracy and copyright violations were common in 18th century France. Paris court records indicate that Lattré brought charges against several other period map publishers, including fellow Frenchman Desnos and the Italian map engraver Zannoni, both of whom he accused of copying his work. Lattré likes trained his wife Madame Lattré (né Vérard), as an engraver, as a late 18th century trade card promotes the world of 'Lattré et son Epouse.' Lattré's offices and bookshop were located at 20 rue St. Jaques, Paris, France. Later in life he relocated to Bordeaux. Learn More...


Lattre, Jean, Atlas Moderne ou Collection de Cartes sur Toutes les Parties du Globe Terrestre, c.1778.    


Very good. Some toning and wear along original centerfold. Minor foxing. Original platemark visible.


Rumsey 2612.071. Kershaw, Kenneth A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, 475. Phillips (Atlases) 664. National Maritime Museum, 215. British Library, World, col. 384-385 (1762-1785 eds.).