The W. H. Pugsley Collection of Early Canadian Maps
McGill University Libraries

The Map Collection

The Map Collection in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections contains over 6,000 historical maps, dating from 1556 to the 1940s. The major strengths of the collection are the discovery and exploration of North America, works by sixteenth century European cartographers (i.e. Hondius, Ortelius and Speed), and Canadian and Montreal maps from the nineteenth and twentieth Century.

The Pugsley Maps

In 1971-72 Dr. William Howard Pugsley, a McGill alumnus, donated a collection of 50 early Canadian maps, dating from 1556 to 1857, to the McGill University Libraries. Dr. Pugsley collected these maps during the late 1930s, and World War II, principally in England. Now housed in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in the McLennan Library, this set of maps tells the story of the discovery and exploration of North America. The oldest map in the Pugsley collection is from Ramusio's Delle navigationi et Viaggi, vol. 3, 1556, the first book published to present a detailed account of North America.

William Howard Pugsley, 1912-1993

William Howard Pugsley was born in Montreal in 1912. He attended Ashbury College in Ottawa, from which he graduated in 1929. He spent the next year at the Sorbonne in Paris, and then attended McGill University, graduating with a B.Com. (Honours) in 1934. In 1936, he received an M.B.A. (with High Distinction) from Harvard Business School and in 1950, a Ph.D. in Economics from McGill. During World War II, Pugsley was a Lieutenant in the Canadian Navy, but resigned his commission to write a book about the Lower Deck: Saints devils and ordinary seamen (Toronto: Collins, 1945). After the War, he spent several summers with the fleet and published another book about the life of a sailor in the Canadian Navy: Sailor Remember (Toronto: Collins, 1948). Then a third book about the Navy was written: Return to the sea: Lower Deck of the Canadian Navy revisited eleven years after the 1945 demobilization (Don Mills: Collins, 1960). From 1954 to 1981, Professor Pugsley taught in the School of Commerce, McGill University, later the Faculty of Management. In 1981, he was the producer of McGill's Red and White Revue. William Pugsley died in Ottawa in 1993.

The Bibliography

The most difficult part of the Pugsley project has been dating the maps. Most of them were originally sold as map plates bound in atlases. Often the atlases were taken apart and the plates sold separately. Determining the state of the map and from which atlas it came, has been a major challenge. Standard bibliographic sources have been consulted, but even these have not always resolved the problem. Koeman and Phillips (see Bibliography) were the most helpful bibliographic tools to list the separate plates and link them to the bound atlases. Unfortunately, they have not always included the maps from this list, i.e. Visscher 1745. A number of good thematic bibliographies, such as Pedley and Pastoureau have been used, but the state represented in the McGill collection was not always included. Recent reference works, such as Kershaw and Burden, have proved to be very useful because of their extensive illustrations. Last but not least, I have relied heavily on the outstanding collection of early Canadian maps held in the National Archives of Canada. This collection has been documented in the following publication; Lorraine Dubreuil, Marginalia IV, Early Canadian Maps. The W.H. Pugsley Collection. Cartes anciennes du Canada. La collection de W.H. Pugsley. Montreal: Rare Books and Special Collections Division, McGill University Libraries, 1998.

Contact Information

Rare Books and Special Collections Division
McLennan Library Building, 4th Flr.
3459 McTavish
Montreal, PQ H3A 0C9

Telephone: (514) 398-4707
fax: (514) 398-5143

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