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A History of Canada in Ten Maps: Epic Stories of Charting a Mysterious Land

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  77 reviews
The sweeping, epic story of the mysterious land that came to be called "Canada" like it's never been told before.

Every map tells a story. And every map has a purpose--it invites us to go somewhere we've never been. It's an account of what we know, but also a trace of what we long for.

Ten Maps conjures the world as it appeared to those who were called upon to map it. Wh/>Ten
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 10th 2017 by Allen Lane
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Danielle Tremblay
This is definitely not a historical or an adventure novel. But the author succeeded in showing this immense country's history through the eyes of those who mapped it, the adventurers who wanted to see beyond the trees near its natural borders. The book goes back as far as modern knowledge allows it, that is to say up to its very first inhabitants and until the confederation, passing by the coming of Vikings. It tells of its legends, trades and deals, rivalries, partnerships, and agreements, myst ...more
Aug 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
For starters, this isn't really a book about maps. So put aside notions of a boring tome of cartography. Sure, there are maps here, but they feel more like an organizing principle than the topic of discussion.

What is that discussion? The dramatic, heroic, foolhardy, bloody, frozen, and inspired exploration of Canada. How did our vast country come to be drawn on the maps and understood? Before Google Earth documented everything from the heavens, obstinate but brilliant men, women, Eur
Ben Babcock
Oct 04, 2017 rated it did not like it
So … this is a proof copy from the publisher via NetGalley (tanks), and I have to just put it out there that I didn’t actually see any maps in this version. I don’t know if that’s by design or simply that they hadn’t been set into the book at the type this version was exported. It seems a little silly to me that a book called A History of Canada in Ten Maps does not, in fact, include any pictures of maps. Adam Shoalts’ writing is definitely engaging and edifying, so I wouldn’t say that the lack of maps is a d ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this throughout though it kind of also missed out on what it said it would be. The stories presented -- about the explorers and voyageurs -- were well worth the space on the paper, but throughout the entire book the maps were more of a secondary thought. This could have been 'A History of Canada in Ten Episodes' and the difference would have been immaterial. 

So, for the lack of emphasis on the maps I deducted a point while the excellent quality of the stories is worth quite
Kristen Lesperance
This book is a fantastic read. The author really took the time to research this book and get all the facts. I found that he had a fantastic way of writing that really showed his passion and really added additional fuel to my passion for Canadian history. I had the opportunity to meet the author at a book signing where he talked about his time he did canoeing the arctic and followed the same route as the explorers. It was awesome to see the pictures and then to read about what the explorers did w ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I heard the author speak at a Rotary Conference in Collingwood; not having read his first book, wasn't sure what to expect, but his talk was very entertaining and funny so I bought his book afterwards. I was lucky to get a copy as the bookseller at the event quickly sold out. I've read a lot of Canadian history; much of it boring, some of it interesting. But nothing like this! History would be everyone's favourite subject if it were taught like this. I ended up staying up until 2:30 that night b ...more
I received a copy of this in a Goodreads giveaway.
This book is a history of Canada from approximately 1000 A.D. to the mid 1800s, told through the lens of various explorers and map makers.
Each chapter focuses on a different explorer and mapmaker, some well known, like Samuel de Champlain and Alexander Mackenzie, some not as well known, like Jacques-Nicolas Bellin and Peter Pond.
Chapter 9 included a detailed account of one particular battle of the War of 1812, though, that didn'
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This work of popular history by a young man who is a "modern explorer" himself is understandably chiefly centred around exploration maps of territory now within Canada's boundaries. It has a fairly informal tone, but full scholarly apparatus. I enjoyed the thoughtful preface and afterword material, and the summaries of the exploits of various famous explorers were highly readable, with many interesting anecdotes. I also thought the tone successfully avoided any suggestion of hero-worship, and al ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: maphype
A well-researched compilation of both acclaimed and lesser known explorers and moments in the history of Canada (Or rather, Canada before it became Canada). I found it to be a fun read, and I appreciate the author's ability to capture this eclectic collection of events.

As mentioned by another review, the chapter on the War of 1812 seemed somewhat out of place amongst the tales of explorers. Also, while I recognize that the aim of this book was not to be comprehensive, I am a bit dis
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really neat read! In each chapter, Shoalts looks at a different pre-confederation map of Canada, and the conditions under which it was created. The maps range from Leif Erikson's first map of Vinland to the maps of the Arctic produced by the Franklin expedition, so there's a wide range of material drawn from. With each map, Shoalts takes time to present the cultural and political reasons behind each map's development, in a manner that is welcoming and open to those without much Canadi ...more
Dana Larose
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a neat premise for a book -- the author took 10 maps he felt were important to Canadian history and gave each one a chapter detailing the people who charted and crafted the map, the story of its creation, what was going on in Canada at a time, etc.

I learned a lot more about Cartier and Champlain, about the exploration of the West and about the War of 1812.

Shoalts emphasizes how much the explorers relied on the knowledge of First Nations people, which is a nice to
David Kitz
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. But then I love both history and maps, so the combination of the two made for a delightful read.
Adam Shoalts writes from personal experience as an avid outdoors man and canoeist. He has personally explored many of the rivers that he describes in this book.
It's easy for us to forget that for the early explorers Canada was a vast uncharted wilderness. Our history is a history of discovering the sheer size of this landmass that was not fully known even to its abori
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A very interesting book about Canada's earliest explorers and their stories. The men seem very real and alive.
Rhea Peterson
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
Adam Shoalts makes Canadian history an exciting and interesting read. I really enjoyed the format of this book, although including some drawings of maps would have been a nice addition. A must read for all history students.
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
So this only got four stars because i naively thought that i would get to look at some maps in this book.
There were no maps pictured! That is the only disappointment with this book. Yes, it told the story through maps, without pictures sigh. The stories were vibrant and compelling. They were told in a way I had not experienced before through school and self interest.

I won a copy of this book thru a first reads contest.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
The people who lived in this land before us, aboriginal, Canadien or otherwise, were pretty much absolute bad asses.

The stories of hardship and grit that went into exploration would make an endurance athlete blush. Not only that, but their real survival skills made me reconsider my cocksure attitude about getting around in the wilderness. In some of the stories people would hike through unknown wild back country for 50 km at a time - and then set up camp, hunt and do cartography, onl
Lewis M
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an amazing tale that tells the story of Canadian wilderness and its exploration in ten time periods. From the first Viking explorers to the initial voyage of Franklin the stories are well told and rich with detail.

The map section in the middle was good but I wish the maps were larger so that I could trace the trips taken by the explorers much better.

I have come to truly enjoy Adams writing and storytelling style and cannot wait to read another book from him. Perhaps one day our paths will
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great stories, but if you’re going to write a book about Canadian history in the context of ten maps, it would be great if the pictures of the maps were much bigger, perhaps with thinner margins and spanning a couple fold-out pages. I’m sure I can find these maps online, they’re almost all from public archives, but it’s nice to have that context within the book itself.
Steven Langdon
Apr 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
If you think that Canadian history is boring and unexciting, this is the book to change your mind. Adam Shoalts has written ten fascinating chapters, each associated with a dramatic historical map from different periods -- from the Viking maps of their first connections with north-eastern parts of North America to the inland explorations of Champlain and other French explorers to the 1828 map of John Franklin tracing parts of the Arctic.

Three aspects of these stories stand out for me
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great introductory text on the discovery of Canada and the difficulties of mapping such a vast landscape. Shoalts does an exceptional job of keeping his narrative focused, choosing to provide his readers with highlights and an overview of important historical events and people. He does not go in depth on any given topic which works well here, instead he repeatedly drops enticing quotes or facts that will leave many readers wanting more. This is what makes this book a great introduction ...more
Mark Lisac
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is essentially a collection of adventure stories tied to 10 early maps of what became Canada (all the stories are pre-Confederation). Rounded up from 3.5 stars because the exciting action makes for an entertaining and thought-provoking read. The applause comes with qualifications. The writing aims at a popular history, but it often slips from a Pierre Berton level down into juvenile adventure sensibility. Most of the stories are also quite condensed, skimping a lot of historical context. ...more
Craig Saunders
Jan 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shoalts is a lively storyteller with engaging prose. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and think it's a great idea. Honestly, I devoured it.

That said, there are some shortcomings. Part of what makes it a lively read is that it is very much Great Man History. Makes for good storytelling, weaker history. It is also a highly romanticized version.

One thing I did appreciate was the credit he gave to Fist Nations maps and knowledge, and the crucial role they played in exp
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about the early explorers and map-makers of Canada. From the Vikings (fantastic chapter) through the early French settlers and then the British fur trade explorers, closing on Franklin's first ill-fated journey to the Arctic (and yes, he had more than one), this book has some amazing stories. The subtitle really says it all: epic stories of charting a mysterious land. But in many ways, this book is less about mapmaking and more about the adventures/challenges those who made maps had t ...more
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
What an interesting book. Canoists will rejoice at this one. Shoalts has taken what was dry material in back in public school history classes of Canada's explorers (then he went here, then he went there, etc.), spanning nearly 1,000 years, and made it riveting reading. Vikings (though the Vikings weren't there when I was in elementary school), Jacques Cartier, Champlain, La Verendrye, Pond (new name to me), Hearne, the great Mackenzie, Thompson, and the "Heart of Darkness" overland expedition of ...more
Karen Lowe
Jul 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A much more balanced and humanist account of early 'Canadian' history. This should be taught in schools! Adam Shoalts makes the historical figures come alive as real people, with flaws, hopes and attitudes. I expected to learn about some of the British explorers with their haughty attitudes, but was surprised to learn of some of the more open attitudes of others. I absolutely love the inclusion of the aboriginal stories. As a member of the predominant colonial 'race' I am overjoyed to see the na ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I consider myself a bit of an arctic exploration fan girl so I was pretty excited to read this book and Shoalts did not disappoint. It's really a book about the exploration of Canada framed through the lens of the maps left behind (although my e-version had all the maps at the end so I never really looked at the actual maps).

The book covers the period of Viking settlement up to the first Franklin expedition and one notable chapter isn't really about exploration (Siege of Fort Erie). It's an eng
Jasmine Fogwell
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a unique way to tell history! Adam Shoalts has done it again in this amazing book about Canada. He uses maps from explorers who sought to find a water route across North America, and each time, though the route was never discovered, more of Canada was explored and mapped. We get to know the characters behind the map, and what was going on at the time in this vast wilderness. It was exciting, engaging and a great refresher on Canadian history.

"Explorers might make the first maps,
Nov 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a Canadian, I can't believe the amount I did not know about the history of Canada! Not only did I learn so much, but Adam Shoalts has a way of making thing so interesting! It probably took twice as long for me to read it because it seemed every couple pages I would turn to the person next to me and excitedly be all "Did you know..." Schools should teach history the way this books shares it. Not to mention, as a fan of maps, this approach made it super accessible and more fun! My interest is p ...more
Stephen Beech
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this non-fiction account of the history of Canada, the detail of the maps, characters and wilderness that makes up what we now call Canada.
I enjoyed being taken back in time and space to another time, and experience the hardships endured in making Canada.
I found I read a chapter at a time, reflect and absorb the detailed accounts and events and revisit this book over the course of several months.
I now have a greater appreciation for the vastness and diversi
Alex Mulligan
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. While less of a history of the modern day Canada, Shoalts selects 10 maps to chart the development of what we now call Canada. Stretching across the continent and nearly 1000 years Shoalts delivers a fascinating and adventure laden story of the explorers and people who helped begin to define Canada. Packed with interesting tidbits of history and grand narratives, this book makes for an interesting and informative read; especially for those interested in pre-confederation histo ...more
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