Historical Atlas of the North Pacific Ocean: Maps of Discovery and Scientific Exploration, 1500-2000


224 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55054-865-4
DDC 911'.1644






Reviewed by William A. Waiser

William A. Waiser is a professor of history at the University of
Saskatchewan. He is the author of Saskatchewan’s Playground: A History
of Prince Albert National Park and Park Prisoners: The Untold Story of
Western Canada’s National Parks, 1915–1946


Commissioned by the North Pacific Marine Science Organization, this
historical atlas seeks to tell, through maps and charts, the story of
how the North Pacific Ocean was explored over the past 500 years.

Starting with the Spanish and Portuguese search for an ocean route to
the Orient, author Derek Hayes describes how several countries probed
the unknown waters of the North Pacific in the 16th and 17th centuries
and then actively pursued territorial claims in the area in the
following centuries. Indeed, the rivalry between Spain, Russia, and
Great Britain along North America’s North Pacific Coast was quite
intense—even before American territorial ambitions further complicated
the story.

Hayes has done a fine job of locating maps and charts of the region in
archives and other heritage institutions throughout the world; the atlas
features 285 maps prepared by nine countries. He also provides a lucid,
engaging text, designed to place each map in historical context, and
discusses, for example, the recent claim that Sir Francis Drake might
actually have reached a higher latitude along the North American coast
as part of a secret assignment. He also examines the Russian thrust
across the Bering Sea and how fur traders effectively used the Aleutian
Islands as stepping stones to the American continent and its rich sea
otter population.

The atlas’s real strength, however, is the wonderful collection of
maps and charts (many of them in color), and that it provides an
appreciation of how the North Pacific came to be known and understood.


Hayes, Derek., “Historical Atlas of the North Pacific Ocean: Maps of Discovery and Scientific Exploration, 1500-2000,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/7049.