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New Exhibition Explores 18th Century Atlantic Canada and the Eastern Seaboard

The University of Southern Maine’s Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education will present a new exhibition, “Charting an Empire: The Atlantic Neptune,” opening on Wednesday, March 26.  Following the exhibition preview will be a presentation with University of Maine Professor of Geography and Canadian Studies, Stephen J. Hornsby.  Professor Hornsby is also the co-editor of a new “Historical Atlas of Maine” due to be published later this year.  The exhibition preview begins at 6 p.m., accompanied by a reception and book signing. From 6:30-7 p.m. Professor Hornsby will discuss his recent book, “Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J. F. W. Des Barres and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune.”

The event will be held in the Sam L. Cohen Educational Center of the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education located at the intersection of Forest Avenue and Bedford Street in Portland.  Please RSVP by calling 207-780-4850 or register online at 

The period following the French and Indian War (1754-1763) was a time of change and discovery in North America. In this display of charts, views, and maritime objects, we look at the decade following the war, when Britain set out to accurately chart the coast and survey the inland areas of their new resource-rich empire in Atlantic Canada, as well as the eastern seaboard extending from New England to the West Indies. The resulting charts were published collectively by Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres in “The Atlantic Neptune,” a maritime atlas which set the standard for nautical charting for nearly half a century.

Using nearly 25 items dating from the 18th century to the present, this exhibition examines the importance of accurate charting of the new empire, defines how Britain put her mark on the land, and explores the complex processes of marine surveying and nautical chart production.  The exhibition will be on display until August 14, 2014.  For library hours and more information please call 207-780-4850 or visit