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Mapmaker: Philip Turnor in Rupert's Land in the Age of Enlightenment

"[M]arvelous and compelling..." - John Milloy, author of The Plains Cree and A National Crime

As the first inland surveyor for the Hudson's Bay Company, Philip Turnor stands tall among the explorers and mapmakers of Canada. Accompanied by Cree guides and his Cree wife, Turnor travelled 15,000 miles by canoe and foot between 1778 and 1792 to produce ten maps, culminating in his magnum opus, a map that was the foundation of all northern geographic knowledge at that time. Barbara Mitchell's biography brings to life the man who taught David Thompson and Peter Fidler how to survey. In her search for Turnor's story, Mitchell discovers her own Cree-Orkney ancestry and that of thousands of others who are descendents of Turnor and his Cree wife.

"Mitchell's work adds substantially to a deeper knowledge of Turnor, his life, his work, and to the extent possible, his character. It provides the first close study of his background, writings, career trajectory, and contributions to the mapping of North America." - Jennifer Brown, author of Strangers in Blood: Fur Trade Company Families in Indian Country

"Where books on Canada, indigenous life, exploration, or genealogy are favorites, this historical account is a must." - Henrietta Verma, Library Journal

"Mitchell shows the human side of map-making through reconstructions of Turnor's daily life ... The result is a wonderfully detailed and convincing portrait of early Canadian life in the era of Indigenous-European trade." - Lyle Dick, Canada's History

"Since the research material informing this biography was framed through the sensibilities of an eighteenth-century Englishman, there is very little reference to Turnor’s Cree wife. Mitchell, having only recently discovered her own Cree roots, is also unable to supply that Indigenous perspective in her journals. Her narrative ends with the appreciation that her lifelong self-identification as a British Canadian performs over her newer realization that she is also Cree. In her epilogue and her acknowledgements, she reaches out to her Cree heritage, stating simply, “I am listening.” - Beverley Haun, Canadian Literature: A Quarterly of Criticism and Review

Additional Information
352 pages | 6.25" x 9.25"