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Victoria Harbour 1889 Times Colonist
January 2009

Panorama of Victoria Harbour distributed
to schools
November 2008

Western Mariner
by Rob Morris
May 2008

Times Colonist
November 18, 2007

The Globe and Mail
October 10, 2007

October 10, 2007

Victoria’s First Map Distributed to Schools
September 29, 2007



island history — Victoria Harbour Map
reproduced in times colonist “Monitor”

Dave Obee, Victoria, November 17, 2008.

It’s not a book, but it’s loaded with information about the city. It’s a colour illustration taken from an 1889 photographic panorama from high atop the Birdcages, the old legislative buildings that were replaced a few years later by the Parliament Buildings we know today. It shows a busy harbour, green gardens and a city skyline that is hard to recognize as Victoria. Not a problem, though, because the illustration is accompanied by extensive notes that help to identify every landmark. The illustration is the fourth reproduction from Baytext Maps, a Victoria company run by Michael Layland. Given the quality of his work so far, it would pay to keep an eye open for what he produces in 2009.


BC150 — 1889 panorama of Victoria Harbour
distributed to schools and libraries.

Victoria, November 17, 2008.

In June 1889 the magazine West Shore published and distributed a panorama of Victoria’s Harbour viewed from the topmost parapet of the “Birdcages.” This week, reproductions of that panorama are being distributed to schools, colleges, libraries and archives locally.

The panorama depicts the harbour and town on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. The scene is busy with shipping, the streets bustling with horse drawn carriages and people promenading. The artist accurately portrayed buildings, some of which survive to this day.

The Local History grant program of Canada’s National History Society and the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the Victoria Historical Society as its contribution to the BC150 celebration, funded the distribution of this reproduction to all secondary schools, colleges, universities, libraries, archives and media within the area.

Supporting the panorama is a map key with illustrated text providing background to the scene in view — such as buildings, bridges and ships.

High-resolution, full colour copies are available through museum giftshops and similar outlets or directly from the publisher at: www.baytextmaps.com

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charting ripple rock

Rob Morris, Western Mariner
May 2008

As one component fo their participation in the 50th anniversary of the Ripple Rock explosion the Museum at Campbell River sponsored an illustrated talk by career cartographer Michael Layland of Victoria. The talk was titled Ripple Rock: Its Discovery, Depiction and Demise. With a life-long interest in the history of exploration and mapping, Layland (now retired) has a forthcoming book with the working title The Land of Heart’s Delight: The Exploration and Mapping of Vancouver Island, scheduled for publication in the fall of 2009 by Touchwood Editions (The Heritage Group). Research for the book led to the author’s study of the history of Ripple Rock, including its early charting.

Read more (pdf format)

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Douglas Day starts birthday countdown
150th anniversary kicks off year of celebrations for B.C. — and us

Dave Obee, Times Colonist
Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tomorrow is Douglas Day in British Columbia. Nov. 19 was proclaimed as such back in 1996 to give us a chance to honour one of the most important people in our history.

No, not Tommy. He has a special day, to be sure, but it's in October, in Saskatchewan.

Our Douglas Day is in memory of Sir James, the first governor of the mainland colony of British Columbia. It was on Nov. 19, 1858, that he took the oath of office.

You will be hearing a lot more about that in the months to come. Tomorrow, the 149th anniversary of that day, marks the start of the 150th year of British Columbia.

Cue the fireworks.

Next year we will celebrate the big 1-5-0 of the colony of B.C., as well as of the Times Colonist, the gold rush, the arrival of the Sisters of St. Ann and much more.

Living on Vancouver Island, it's only reasonable to note that British Columbia was actually the second colony in these parts.

Vancouver Island had been a colony since 1849, nine years ahead of the also-ran mainland. And Douglas had been our governor for seven years by the time he took on the same job over in British Columbia.

The two colonies merged in 1866, taking the name of the junior partner, and joined Canada as a province five years later. Add in the birthdays of Victoria (1862) and Canada (1867), and we will have no shortage of sesquicentennials to celebrate over the next few years.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.

A major anniversary is not just an excuse for a party; it's a chance to rediscover our past and to gain a greater appreciation of the people who came before us. What we learn can influence the decisions we make about the future.

It's next to impossible to understand history without understanding geography as well, which is why any history book worth its salt includes maps. Without a map showing population centres in the 1860s, it would be hard to understand the politics behind the merger of the two colonies. And without a map of Victoria from the 1840s, it would be much more difficult to recreate how the settlement developed around the fort.

Enter Michael Layland, a map aficionado who lives on Ten Mile Point in Saanich.

Layland has been interested in maps since he was a child in England, and carved a career out of cartographic work. He created maps for parts of North Africa, South America and the Arabian Peninsula before coming to B.C. Retired now, the 69-year-old Layland owns a company called Baytext Maps -- at baytextmaps.com -- which specializes in historical cartography of Victoria and Vancouver Island.

Layland has just published a reproduction of an 1842 map of Greater Victoria.

The original was drawn as part a report that Douglas prepared for his employer, the Hudson's Bay Company. It is safely tucked away in the company's archives in Winnipeg.

In his report, Douglas recommended the location of a new trading depot, the one that came to be known as Fort Victoria and inspired the creation of our city.

This is the first map made of this region and it would be difficult to overstate its importance in our history.

The map is a reflection of what Douglas was thinking as he drafted his report. It includes the information that he used to make his decision. In other words, this map helps us peer into his mind and understand why he chose the site he did. Answering the "why?" question is one of the toughest tasks when researching history; this map provides some strong hints.

Along with the map itself, Layland has prepared a guide to it, including an essay on the map and how it relates to Douglas's work at the time, as well as a key to help you cross-reference modern locations with the ones shown on the map.

The 1842 map was drawn for Douglas by Adolphus Lee Lewes, and the odds are that neither one of them would have guessed the document would be distributed to the masses more 150 years later. The idea was just to provide information to the company brass.

Layland says he chose to reprint the map because of the quality of information -- and because it is visually appealing. Not all of history's important maps are worth hanging in your living room, after all.

Odds are, you'll see the map soon. Grants from the Hudson's Bay Company and Canada's National History Society have allowed the distribution of the map to libraries, museums and archives. It is also available commercially, through museum bookshops, Crown Publications and directly from Baytext.

And Layland isn't finished yet -- he is at work on a book of maps showing Vancouver Island through the years. The book will be on the shelves by this time next year.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, you'll be hearing much more about the 150th and what it means to all of us. It is going to be an exciting time, even if history is not your first love, because technology is offering so many new ways to research history and spread the word.
Layland's map is a hint of what's possible. After a century and a half, there are still plenty of stories about our past, just waiting to be told.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

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Who knew mapmaking could be so dangerous?

Tom Hawthorn, Special to The Globe and Mail
October 10, 2007

VICTORIA — Michael Layland, a retired surveyor, lives in the Ten Mile Point neighbourhood of Saanich. When he extends an invitation to visit, a guest need only unfold a street map, or punch a few keystrokes on MapQuest. A GPS makes the expedition easier still, while even so exotic a guide as a satellite image is as accessible as the nearest computer terminal.

Not so long ago, the making of a map required nerve, creativity and painstaking care. Not to mention boots on the ground.

Mr. Layland, 69, is a connoisseur of the cartographic arts. A living-room wall is papered with centuries-old maps of Central and South America, a reminder of his many years charting isolated lands.

With a trim white beard and an understated manner, the retired British army officer tells the most incredible tales. He has survived a rebel mine in the desert and a helicopter crash in a rain forest. He nearly precipitated a war between Chile and Argentina.

Mr. Layland's passion has led him to revive the earliest map of the area that makes up Greater Victoria. In 1842, the Hudson's Bay Company dispatched a handful of men with chief factor James Douglas to select a site for a new fort on southern Vancouver Island.

The crew included a young field surveyor and cartographic draughtsman named Adolphus Lee Lewes, a Métis whose father was a chief factor.

Joined by Douglas and an aboriginal guide, Lewes mapped the lands surrounding what is now Victoria's harbour. They followed a trail remarkably similar to the route of today's Fort Street and Cadboro Bay Road.

"There's quite a lot of detail," Mr. Layland said. "It's no three-day survey. The map shows signs of quite a lot of investigation."

The surveyor titled his map "Ground Plan of Portion of Vancouvers Island Selected for New Establishment." The original is in the Manitoba provincial archives in Winnipeg. It is the first map of Victoria, as well as the first map to show the interior of any part of the island.

Mr. Layland has financed a reproduction of the historic document, which he has titled "A Perfect Eden," from a statement made by Douglas. The maps, including his own interpretative guide, are for sale at museum bookshops and online at http://www.baytextmaps.com. A modest grant from the Hudson's Bay Company and Canada's National History Society has paid for copies to be distributed to schools and libraries in the area covered.

A map of which only a handful of originals was ever made will now enjoy an audience much larger than ever imagined by its draughtsman.

Mr. Layland was born in the north London suburb of Highgate shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War. As a boy, he endured the Blitz, collecting shrapnel in the street.

His father was an itinerant musician who played with orchestras and dance bands. The son inherited his father's wanderlust, his tender age at first limiting his expeditions to the nearby countryside in search of birds.

He drew maps of the areas he had explored, then began to fill in the areas between those mappings, completing what he imagined as a real-life jigsaw puzzle.

"I got keen to the idea of portraying the ground on paper," he said.

Joining the British Army in 1956, he learned mapmaking with the Royal Engineers. He had assignments in Cyprus and North Africa, while also leading teams of surveyors in the Rub' al-Khali, the vast desert in the southern Arabian Peninsula. The largest expanse of sand in the world is known as the Empty Quarter. How empty is it?

"Pretty empty. There are some camel trails going across. Of course, they discovered oil and that changed."

The young officer was an object of interest to the locals.

"In some of those places, I was the next white man in after [Sir Wilfred] Thesiger," he said. Sir Wilfred (knighted in 1995, he died in 2003, aged 93) was one of the 20th century's great explorers, his writings inspiring a succeeding generation of travellers. He nearly died of starvation in the Empty Quarter, spending three days in 1946 hallucinating about rescue while awaiting tribesmen bringing food.

While in Oman, Mr. Layland was riding as a passenger in the cab of his three-ton truck when it struck a mine, blowing off a front wheel. Shots rang out. Rebels were firing "muzzle-loaded lead slingers. Nevertheless, they were close enough to do damage, to do harm." The engineers called in support by radio and were rescued.

He left the armed services as a lieutenant in 1963, joining a British engineering firm in Peru. He became fascinated by the incredible job European visitors did in mapping the Amazon River and its countless tributaries.

"They were soldiers, or missionaries, or gold hunters terrified out of their wits, carried downstream. They couldn't land because the locals were hostile."

Their experiences in an inhospitable land were then interpreted in drawing rooms in Europe. Filled with admiration for the results, Mr. Layland sought out a book describing the adventures. Finding none, he obeyed the maxim that if you can't find a book on a particular subject, write it yourself. He completed the manuscript for They Charted the Amazon a decade ago, although the work still awaits a publisher. He is now writing a book on the mapping of Vancouver Island for TouchWood Editions, a Victoria book publisher.

In the 1970s, Mr. Layland surveyed a strip of rain forest across the isthmus of Panama. Supertankers carrying oil from Alaska's North Slope did not fit in the Panama Canal, so a pipeline was needed to pump oil from the Pacific coast to the Caribbean coast. As his project neared completion, a helicopter carrying Mr. Layland crashed after the main rotor bearing seized.

"We landed in a swamp," he said. "Since we'd finished the mapping, I knew where we were. Five minutes later, we would've been in virgin rain forest and nobody would have found us."

Some years later, the surveyor was working on a pipeline to carry natural gas from Argentina across the Andes to the booming Chilean city of Santiago. Mr. Layland enlisted the air forces of both nations to take aerial photos of their respective side of the border. The Chilean flight went well, but the Argentines were challenged by Chilean fighter jets. Happily, good sense overcame jingoistic bravado, as the surveying plane returned to base without shots being fired.

Mr. Layland feared he did not have enough photographic information to complete his project. As it turned out, the cheeky Chileans had flown well into Argentina's airspace.

He has yet to spark any border incidents in his 25 years in British Columbia, where he settled with his Canadian-born wife. Now a Canadian, he is active in several mapping, historical and collecting societies.

He has started a small business selling reproductions of maps, including a bird's-eye view of Victoria in 1878 as well as a full-colour perspective of Vancouver Island in 1913.

The 1842 map includes a red square indicating "Proposed site of Fort."

Mr. Layland ran a finger to an area near an Indian village on what is now named Cadboro Bay. Where his home on Ten Mile Point would be built many decades later is a wooded headland named "Pt. Gonzala."

This is a mistake. Gonzales Point is to the south, suggesting a misreading of a chart by George Vancouver. Mr. Lewes was a good, but not perfect, cartographer, but, then again, he worked without benefit of satellites, relying instead on his eyes, his feet and a steady hand.

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Historical map resurrected

Rebecca Aldous, NewsGroup
October 10 2007

The map came before the town.
A little red square marks where Fort Victoria was to be built, now home to Bastion Square.
"This is a very important map because it shows how the country was before the white settlers arrived." former cartographer Michael Layland says.
The 1842 Hudson's Bay Company map holds such high historical value, Layland received a $1,000 grant to distribute reproductions to secondary schools, colleges, universities and libraries which reside within the old map's area.
The map covers ground from 10-Mile Point around the coast to Fort Rodd Hill and inland to Royal Oak.
Today's Oak Bay village is intriguingly labeled "Battle Field."
The map was draw by Adolphus Lee Lewes, who accompanied James Douglas as he surveyed several south Island sites for a new Hudson's Bay Company regional headquarters.
"It is like a piece of water colour art," Layland says.
The map depicts two villages referred to as Indian forts, says Grant Keddie, curator of Archeology at the Royal B.C. Museum. The First Nation had congregated together to protect themselves from the arrival of the Europeans, he says. In 1782 smallpox ravaged North America, Keddie says, which could explain the small number of Songhees villages.
The Europeans were attracted to Victoria harbour because much of the land was cleared.
Keddie says the First Nations had burned the vegetation in some areas to prompt the growth of Camas. The blue flowered plant was gathered for its edible bulbs. The bulbs were steamed and tasted sweet, he says.
Keddie describes Lewes's map as a crucial piece of regional cartographic heritage, a document essential for understanding this area on the eve of development by Europeans.
"The map is a really valuable tool," he says. Those interested in getting their own reproduction of the 1842 map can find them at museum gift shops.
For more information visit www.baytextmaps.com.

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PO Box 55012
Victoria, B.C. V8N 6L8
Phone: (250) 477-2734
email: maps “at’ baytextmaps.com

Contact: Michael Layland


VICTORIA, September 29, 2007. An 1842 map was instrumental in the Hudson’s Bay Company choosing Victoria for its new headquarters on the Pacific Coast. This week, reproductions of that map are being distributed to schools, colleges, libraries and archives locally.

The map accompanied James Douglas’s reconnaissance report of 1842. Douglas had come to survey several sites at the southern tip of Vancouver Island, seeking a new regional HQ for the company. A young cartographer accompanying Douglas, Adolphus Lee Lewes, drew the map, which is held in the HBC Archives in Winnipeg. Douglas’s superiors accepted his recommendation to locate the new trading establishment at “Camosack,” and instructed him to return the following year to build the fort.

Lewes’s map covers the area from 10-Mile Point around the coast as far as Fort Rodd Hill and inland as far as Royal Oak. It shows hills, lakes, streams and features identifiable today, wooded areas, wetlands, meadows and first nations’ settlements. Today’s Oak Bay village is intriguingly labeled “Battle Field.”

Grant Keddie, Curator of Archeology at the Royal BC Museum, describes Lewes’s map as “a crucial piece of our regional cartographic heritage, a document essential for understanding this area on the eve of development by Europeans.”

The Local History grant program of Canada’s National History Society and the Hudson’s Bay Company funded the distribution of the first ever reproduction to all secondary schools, colleges, universities, libraries, archives and media within the area covered by the map.

Supporting the map are an accompanying illustrated guide and a copy of the 1942 oil painting by J. D. Kelly “The Birth of Victoria,” showing James Douglas in 1843 directing construction of the new fort.

High-resolution, full colour copies will be available through museum giftshops and similar outlets or directly from the publisher at: www.baytextmaps.com

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