My Favourite Artifact – The Tackabury Map

By Sarah C., Visitor Host

In Henry House hangs an oversized map which presents an important time in the settlement of Upper Canada, which I love to show to people.

992.2.1 - 1862 Tackabury Map
992.2.1 – 1862 Tackabury Map

Tackabury’s Map of Canada West Drawn from Government and Special Local Surveys by H. F. Walling. Published by R. M. and G. N. Tackabury. 1862 Engraved on Copper Plates by D. Griffing Johnson.

Though the map has been damaged, it shows the early settlement of the province as well as sketches of different notable areas of the day. The top has seen the most damage loosing most of the sketch of the University of Toronto. Even with the limited section available the building is still recognizable as University College to people familiar with the university campus.

I find this map to be fascinating and love to show it to people who visit the museum because of people’s ability to connect with the places it depicts.  If you look closely you can see where Post Offices (P.O.s) are listed. These names are familiar to many of the present day towns and cities. I can even find the village I live near on the map!

Detail of the Tackabury Map - Can you see Port Oshawa?
Detail of the Tackabury Map – Look closely and you can see the Oshawa Post Office

This large scale map can be beneficial for gaining an understanding of how settlement developed in Ontario.  Surveys and early land grants played a significant part of shaping early growth in Ontario, which is still apparent in our landscape and roads.

The areas can be either seen as meticulously planned, appearing in a perfect gird or sprawling and disorganized – this can indicate many things including following a watercourse and the type of growth that outstrips uniform plans.  The goal was to lay everything out as a grid, though watercourses can make this difficult creating what the surveyors call ‘broken fronts’. Because of how settlement develops and because the world is not naturally square these grids can intersect at some interesting angles. In some areas you can see how lots were laid out along a road and the rest of the lots grid is based on the edge of the township. It seems like everyone received ,”100 acres more or less”.

Detail of the Tackabury Map
Detail of the Tackabury Map

An aspect which is very interesting are  the blocks of settlement in the more remote sections of the province. Townships were opened up slowly to settlement. Hence why some areas were  heavily settled and some were not fully surveyed when this map was made.

Detail of the Tackabury Map, Limerick Township
Detail of the Tackabury Map, Limerick Township

Limerick Township appears as if it has just started  being surveyed and settled  when the map was made, as there are only lots along the outer edges. Clarendon does not appear to have been surveyed in any way, yet every township around it has been. Balaclava appears as the lone surveyed township and only one of two that had been laid out on the north end of Georgian bay.

Lake Nipissing is partially visible in the damaged top edge showing that the vast majority of the province was not even fully known yet to the surveyors.

The map provides the user with a variety of additional information such as a climatological map, and geological map, a distance chart, and 1861 census information about the counties and cities.

Henry House Study
Henry House Study

I find that so much different information can be taken from an item like this map – everyone finds their own aspect that interests them and takes away a different meaning.

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