Travels Through the Canadas, Containing a Description of the Picturesque Scenery on Some of the Rivers and Lakes; With an Account of the Productions, Commerce, and Inhabitants of Those Provinces. to Which is Subjoined a Comparative View of Manners

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Author: George Heriot (1759-1839)

Year: 1807

Publisher: Printed For Richard Phillips

Place: London


xii+602+plate list+[1 ads] pages with folding frontispiece, folding hand-colored engraved map of the St. Lawrence and 27 plates: 25 aquatints (6 folding) and 1 line engraving. Quarto (10 3/4" x 8 3/4") bound in half leather with five raised spine bands with black label in gilt lettering over marbled boards. (Dow, Niagara pages 127-130; Field 687; Lande 433; Sabin 31489; TPL 805) First edition.

This work is of more than strictly Canadian interest--most of the book is dedicated to "a comparative view of the manners and customs of the Indian nations of North and South America," including a 31-page Algonquin dictionary.

George Heriot arrived in Canada in 1792, the beginning of a quarter-century association with the colony. In his first years. In 1796, he returned to Britain, travelling along the south coast and in Wales before spending some months at the University of Edinburgh. After preparing some paintings for exhibition at the Royal Academy, he left for Canada.

Shortly after his return to Quebec, he was appointed to the relatively senior position of assistant storekeeper general. He was later appointed the deputy postmaster general for the whole of British North America in October 1799. He began his new career with vigour, aiming to expand efficient and speedy mail service beyond the existing Quebec to Montreal route, by using the existing profitable service to help kickstart a new network in the newly settled areas of Upper Canada. However, he quickly encountered both administrative and financial problems; the postmaster general required that all new services be able to support themselves, and refused to allow profits to be reinvested in the system rather than being remitted to central government. However, he received a certain degree of support from the local authorities - Peter Hunter, the lieutenant-governor of Upper Canada, was strongly in favor of improved infrastructure - and by 1805 had obtained a noticeable though limited increase in the quality of service in the west.

During his time in Canada, he spent a great deal of time travelling, as well as painting and writing. He published two books based on his experience of the country; The History of Canada from its first discovery (1804), and Travels through the Canadas (1807). The later of these is extensively illustrated with plates made from his own paintings.


Heavy offsetting from plates, new end papers else very good.

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