NSCC COGS home to priceless map collection

Late cartographer leaves NSCC site with many treasures, including a chart used by John Glenn to orbit the world in 1962

NSCC COGS home to priceless map collection

COGS Librarian Trish LeBlanc and COGS student Gordon Campbell study a map from the Morrison Collection

“The collection is an amazing resource for us to have access to, and it is something for everyone here to be proud of.” ~ COGS summer student Gordon Campbell

Fast Fact

The oldest map in the collection is a wood-cut map from 1545 of the eastern Mediterranean. The oldest local map depicts Cape Breton -- the home of Walter Morrison’s parents -- in 1686. You can see all of the collection on-line at: http://nscc.cairnrepo.org/.

Col. John Glenn referenced this milestone chart on the first U.S.-manned orbital flight in 1962.

Walter Morrison would be proud.

The late cartographer left NSCC a legacy of riches, though even he likely didn’t realize the impact of his gift.

Over the years, Walter donated more than 1,000 historical maps, atlases, periodicals and books to the Centre for Geographic Sciences (COGS) site of the Annapolis Valley Campus to aid student research.

The monetary value of the W.K. Morrison Special Collection tops half a million dollars. Its scholarly significance? Priceless.

A highlight of the collection: a milestone chart used by Col. John Glenn on the first U.S.-manned orbital flight in 1962.

The astronomy connection wasn’t lost on Morrison, a former COGS faculty member who died in 2011. But students, researchers and the general public can all benefit from his donation.

Campus Librarian Trish LeBlanc explains that the focus is largely on Atlantic Canada in the 18th century, when map-making technology grew by leaps and bounds.

Impact on students and staff

A focus of Morrison’s research and collection includes a four-atlas set, produced by J.F.W. DesBarres in the 18th century.  It was used primarily by navigators and ship’s captains, mapping the area from Labrador to the Caribbean. Even today, it’s considered “incredibly” accurate.

“If you leap into the 19th century and the early 20th century, you can really see the influence of his maps on the maps of those times,” says Trish.

In the era of Google Earth, it can be hard to appreciate the significance of a donation like Walter’s.

But COGS summer student Gordon Campbell says the Special Collection has enriched his understanding of geospatial data and map design. It also allows him to feel a physical connection to the past.

“A historical collection such as this tells an epic tale. Instead of just a brief snapshot, we can actually see how things have changed over time. It’s a tale of human settlement, expansion and discovery.”

Campbell has helped staff digitize the collection so more people can feel the same connection he does. Visit the site to see the collection to date and visit often as more is added .

12/09/14

“The collection is an amazing resource for us to have access to, and it is something for everyone here to be proud of.” ~ COGS summer student Gordon Campbell

Fast Fact

The oldest map in the collection is a wood-cut map from 1545 of the eastern Mediterranean. The oldest local map depicts Cape Breton -- the home of Walter Morrison’s parents -- in 1686. You can see all of the collection on-line at: http://nscc.cairnrepo.org/.

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