Description of the Coasts, Points, Harbours and Islands of New France


This portolan-style chart on vellum was compiled by Samuel de Champlain (1567-1635), the founder of New France, and was originally intended for presentation to the King of France. One of the great cartographic treasures of America, the map offers the first thorough delineation of the New England and Canadian coasts from Cape Sable to Cape Cod, showing Port Royal; Frenchman's Bay; the St. John, St. Croix, Penobscot, and Kennebec Rivers; and Mount Desert Island, which Champlain himself named. The place names and coast line correspond closely to Champlain's narrative in his Voyages, published in 1613. Champlain personally designed and drew the chart. Most charts of the time were drawn by professional cartographers who depended on information obtained from explorers and navigators. Champlain based this work entirely on his own exploration and observations, including interviews with Native Americans, and on his own mathematical calculations. The map shows habitations along the shoreline, both French settlements and Indian villages. Forests are represented by stylized drawings of trees. Hill symbols indicate higher elevations visible from the shore. Dangerous shoals are shown as groups of small dots, and anchors represent locations where Champlain himself set anchor.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Descripsion des costs, pts., rades, illes de la Nouuele France faict selon son vray méridien

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 manuscript map : color, vellum ; 37 x 55 centimeters

Last updated: May 24, 2017