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Mapping the 49th Parallel Boundary Survey

The Juan de Fuca to Fort Shepherd Topographical Map

This historic map, possibly the first professionally rendered topographical map of the region, may be of interest to local historians of the West Kootenay-Boundary. Prepared by British officers of the Northwest Boundary Commission during the course of their international boundary survey, it spans the Pacific Northwest along the 49th parallel from the Fraser River to Fort Shepherd on the Columbia River which it then follows northward beyond the boundary to present day Castlegar, British Columbia, then swings east along the Kootenay River toward Nelson and Kootenay Lake.

The original map resides in the Special Collections Digital Archive of Washington State University (https://content.libraries.wsu.edu/digital/collection/maps/id/1407/rec/1s). A lower resolution digital copy of this map has been posted here for more convenient access: (Link)

On this map ... the "Frazier", Similkameen, Okanagan, Kettle and Columbia Rivers are identified in blue handwritten script as are the place names Kettle Falls, Little Dales and the Hudson's Bay Fort Shepherd as well as the U.S. Military Fort Colville (otherwise known as Harney Depot). Survey pack trails are identifed by faint red dotted lines and small red dots apparently indicate either survey camps or dwellings. The stronger red dotted line on the 49th parallel between Osoyoos and Statapoostin (Cascade) may define the extent of actual forest cuttings or slash in this segment of the survey, as commonly indicated on other contemporaneous survey maps. Local topography and landforms are defined by carefully drawn black hachures. There are no signatures or dates to further authenticate the source of this manuscript drawing, although with an examination of other documentation, one may conclude that the map could have been at least prepared under the supervision of astronomers Captn. Haig or assistant astronomer Lieut. Anderson during their winter stay at their barracks near Fort Colville. The gradual eastward progress of their survey was stalled that winter by a deep snowfall at Fort Shepherd at the end of December (1859) and the map remained incomplete beyond that point. The survey then proceeded eastward over the Kootenay Pass to the Rocky Mountain Divide the following spring of 1860.

An annotated copy of this map ...

For a closer look at the West Kootenay-Boundary segment of this map, an annotated version including labels and comments has also been posted here: (Link)

The Palmer sketch map

There are two other historic maps that were prepared by the Royal Engineers at that time as attachments to Colonial Dispatches documenting or perhaps justifying the progress of their work. The first is a sketch map prepared for Lieut. Palmer R.E. depicting his 1860 reconnaissance traverse from Fort Hope to Fort Colville. Palmer was more a civil engineer than an astronomer, previously being involved with the construction of the Cariboo wagon road to the goldfields. Nonetheless, he documented geographical coordinates, altitudes and other bits of geological and geographical information at the request of Governor James Douglas. Palmer was assisted by Fort Colville's Hudson's Bay Chief Factor Angus McDonald, father of Christina Lake namesake "Christina", who, not surprisingly, recommended a route essentially following the historic Hudson's Bay Brigade trail. An Arrowsmith lithographed copy of Palmer's map (only the relevant lower portion) can be viewed here (Link), as well as a copy of the associated dispatch (Link) from Douglas to the Colonial Office.

The Hawkins sketch map

The Hawkins sketch map (Link) was prepared as an attachment to his report to the Colonial Office following his meeting with American Commissioner Archibald Campbell at Fort Colville (Harney Depot) in the Spring of 1861. They collaborated on a strategy to complete the last leg of the boundary survey across the East Kootenays to the Rockies. The map bears his signature "J.W. Hawkins Lieut. Colonel R. Engrs. H.M. Commissioner December 31st 1861". There are no hachures or other topographical marks although common place names are indicated. A reference legend at lower right defines the dotted lines and astronomical stations. The bold red dotted line along the 49th parallel on this map confirms that British axe-teams cut the boundary lines over the old Santa Rosa Summit between Statapoostin (Cascade) and Rossland, then Fort Shepherd.

The overall Northwest Boundary Survey was completed by the end of 1861 and Lieut. Col. Hawkins, as well as most other Royal Engineers, returned to England, taking with them all accumulated maps and survey records. Some ten years later, a British atlas was delivered by an Edward Thornton to the U.S. Department of State. (Link to view pages from Marcus Baker) Unfortunately an online copy of this atlas does not appear to be available on casual Google search.

The final detailed American Lithographed Maps

According to Marcus Baker's 1900 report to the U.S. Department of the Interior, a number of British cartographers returned to Washington in the early 1860s after the conclusion of the survey, to compare records and consult with the Americans on the publication of the official maps. Joint astronomical records and sketch maps were used for research and reference and the drawings themselves were completed over several months in Washington in 1864.

The original manuscript drawings for these maps were prepared by three Americans ... Edward Freyhold, of No. 41 Sharp Street, Baltimore, by L. D. Williams, and by Theodor Kolecki.  Freyhold did the "hill work" ie. the hachures for $1.75 per square inch, and the others did the outlines, lettering, etc.

Of these final detailed drawings, seven have been photo lithographed and small editions printed in 1866 with either British or American signatures. The photo-lithographs are on double the scale of the original (1:60000). They were printed by the New York Lithographing, Engraving, and Printing Company, Julius Bien, superintendent. The sheets are printed wholly in black, in two pieces, each 28 inches high and 71  inches wide.

The sheets are numbered from east to west, and the seventh or westernmost bears the following title: Photo-lithographic Copy of the detailed maps of the North West Boundary from Point Roberts to the Rocky Mountains between the United States and the British Possessions under the Treaty of June 15th, 1846, showing Monuments, Cuts, and other Marks. Archibald Campbell, U. S. Comr. N. W. Boundary Survey.  Scale 1 : 60000 (enlarged to twice the scale of original drawings). Photo-lith. by New York Litho'g Engrav'g and Print'g Co., Julius Bien, Sup't.

The following index map to the lithographs was included as an insert in Baker's report. View full-size here: (Link)

Reproductions of all seven of the Northwest Boundary Commission Lithographic Maps can be viewed, downloaded or purchased online on the David Rumsey website: https://www.davidrumsey.com/home

A low resolution composite of all 7 photo-lith sheets as indexed above can be previewed here ... (Link)

A better quality copy of sheet No. 4 (the Kettle River Valley) has been downloaded and reposted for convenient access here (Link).  The map includes symbols for astronomical camps-or stations as well as monuments, although the symbols are somewhat obscured by hachures.