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Faculty Highlights - Steven Hornsby

The Maine map is one in a series drawn from the first major survey of England’s holdings in North America. The General Survey of the Northern District and the Survey of Nova Scotia, conducted between 1764–75 by two Army officers, Samuel Holland and Joseph Frederick Wallet Des Barres, have been largely overlooked, despite their influence on the British government’s approach to surveying and on subsequent surveys done throughout the expanding empire.  

Hornsby first became aware of the survey as a graduate student conducting research on Cape Breton Island and continued to find references to a major survey of British Americaas time went on. He noticed the distinct grid lines on Prince Edward Island, and how the roads and lot boundaries followed them. He also noticed what seemed to be a peculiar pattern of place names.

“I had questions that accumulated over the years and lay in the back of my mind,’’ he says.

To answer those questions, Hornsby began to research the survey — a five-year project that culminated last year in the publication of Surveyors of Empire: Samuel Holland, J.W.F. Des Barres and the Making of the Atlantic Neptune. The book has received favorable critical reviews and has earned Hornsby two awards: Publication of the Year by The Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, and the John Lyman Book Award for Science and Technology by the North American Society for Oceanic History.

(excerpt from:  Mapping the EmpireHistorical research traces Britain’s ambitious efforts to survey its North American holdings by Rich Hewitt, Fall 2012 edition UMaine Today)   For the rest of the story, click on this  UMaine Today Link)

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