Here is a treasure map found in the bottom drawer amongst the miscellany of uncatalogued maps that live there. It’s a bit of a peculiarity. Dedicated to a mother, it’s an outline map of Grand Manan Island in the Bay of Fundy, part of the Canadian state of New Brunswick. All of the nearby islands and some topographical features on the island are named. But what can the mysterious numbered rings that lie off-shore around the island refer to. What can be found there that might have brought untold wealth to the island over the years of the previous two centuries? Are the some interesting undersea formations or deposits to be charted?
Although Grand Manan and the wider Bay of Fundy do have interesting geology, being a remnant of the flood basalts from the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province meaning that Grand Manan itself has many interesting minerals as well as olivine, amethysts, jaspers and agates. It’s none of these potential treasures to which the map refers…
It’s fish. Grand Manan Island was Canada’s most abundant source of smoked herring as the rear of the map makes clear. These are the most notable herring fisheries in the Bay of Fundy and the source of the island’s fame. The map was produced as a fundraiser for the Grand Manan Historical Society, founded by Buchanan Charles in 1939. In the Grand Manan archives it’s known (grandly) as the Anna Buchanan Charles Memorial Map of Grand Manan.
A bigger mystery here is not so much the map itself, but more what’s it doing in the Map Room of the Geological Society of London? Our accession stamp in the top left of the map records it as having been received by the library on the 22nd May 1939. This would have been shortly after the map was published and coincided with the beginning of the very first tour of Canada by a reigning monarch: George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
This map was not widely available, certainly not in the United Kingdom. The only libraries I have found that hold a copy of the map are the University of London Library at Senate House and the Royal Geographical Society Library. The British Library doesn’t have it listed. Nor do any other prominent libraries in the UK. It’s likely that the map was published by the Grand Manan Historical Society and only available for sale on the Island itself. It suggests that not only was this donated to the library, but it must have been given to us by someone who had been on the island in the first few months of the year of 1939.
Within the gift of the Geological Society is the J. B. Tyrrell Fund – a fund founded by Joseph Burr Tyrrell for the purpose of assisting geologists of Great Britain to travel to Canada and study the geology and to published meritorious papers on the geology of Canada. In 1938 Dr. Alan Wood had received a grant from the fund to travel to Cape Breton Island off the mainland of Nova Scotia to assist in his investigation of the Lower Carboniferous on that island. He had returned in 1939 and a preliminary report had already been delivered at the time of the preparation of the Proceedings of that year.
Another possible benefactor is L. Keith Ingersoll, member of the Grand Manan Historical Society, founder of the Grand Manan Museum, natural historian and amateur geologist. As the map was published slightly before the Royal tour he might have sent a copy of the map to us as a commemoration of the event.
Either way, the map does not register in the minutes of the meetings of the Society under the weekly donations to the library. Nor did the map ever make it to the library catalogue. This unofficial status in the collection may resulted in it being kept in the collection when catalogued topographic maps and admiralty charts were winnowed from the library’s map collections in the 1940s
If you’d like to buy a print of this map, you can. Prints are available in various sizes from our Picture Library