Michigan State University

Here There be 'Gators!

Kathleen Weessies

Alligator in Canada by Coronelli, 1695

This map depicts a very accurate rendering of the Great Lakes for its time.  Illustrations sprinkled throughout the map show Native Americans engaged in various activities including drying fish and being eaten by an alligator.  Explorer reports from the Gulf of Mexico must have been consulted and mixed in with more northerly reports as we see depictions of palm trees and alligators dotted throughout the Great Lakes and into Canada.

The region, and the map, is called ‘La Louisiana’ to strengthen the claims of King Louis the 14th of France.

Vincenzo Coronelli was an Italian Franciscan monk who travelled to Paris and somehow gained permission to access reports of French explorers and Jesuits active throughout the Great Lakes.  He became a renowned globe maker, but also produced many maps and atlases.  This map appeared in the second edition of Coronelli’s atlas Atlante Veneto.  

Coronelli map La Louisiana from 1695
La Louisiana. Made by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli. From Atlas Veneto. Published in Venice in 1695.

This map will be on exhibit in the MSU Map Library the week of September 24, 2018. It was a generous gift of Ron Dietz. 



Early printed maps of Canada. By Kenneth Kersaw. Published in Ancaster, Ontario by Kershaw Pub. in 1993. Entry 289. 

New England in early printed maps 1513-1800: An annotated carto-bibliography.  By Barbara McCorkle. Published in Providence, Rhode Island by The John Carter Brown Library in 2001.  Entry 703.2

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