Map of the Island of Newfoundland, 1689


This nautical map of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence was drawn in 1689 by the Basque cartographer Pierre Detcheverry at Plaisance (present-day Placentia, Newfoundland, Canada), the French capital of Newfoundland, for Governor Antoine Parat. It contains many place-names in the Basque language and details the many anchorages along the coast between Newfoundland and Tadoussac (present-day Quebec). Along with the Portuguese, the Basques were early arrivals to the fishing grounds off the coast of Newfoundland. They began whaling and fishing for cod in these waters around 1525. Their method was to sail to North America in the spring and to return to their homeports in the Bay of Biscay in December or January, when ice conditions in the North Atlantic worsened. By the late 17th century, when this map was made, French fishermen and sailors, many of them Basques, had been plying these waters for more than 150 years. The scale is given in lieus (leagues), an old French measurement that varied by degrees and time; very approximately, one lieu = three kilometers. The map is from the Navy Hydrographic Office Collection in the National Library of France, which was deposited in the library in several stages between 1942 and 1965. The collection derives from the French navy’s General Repository of Maps and Plans, Journals and Memoirs, which was established by King Louis XV in 1720 in order to collect the documentation needed to produce reliable nautical maps.

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Physical Description

1 map : manuscript, color on parchment ; 32.5 x 57 centimeters


  1. René Baudry, “Parat, Antoine,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003– ).
  2. “Basques,” The Canadian Encyclopedia,

Last updated: August 19, 2015