This map was produced to document the breadth of Ontario’s railway network around the time of Confederation. Major rail lines represented include the Northern Railway, the Great Western Railway and the Grand Trunk Railway.
The map also reflects ambitions to expand this network. The dark lines represent completed railway routes, while the lighter lines show railways chartered by the Ontario and federal governments, but not yet completed.
This map depicts Ontario before the “new Ontario” of the north was incorporated into the province. As indicated in the Archives of Ontario’s online exhibit The Changing Shape of Ontario, the province’s boundaries moved west and north to a provisional boundary in 1874, one year before this map was published. It was not until 1912, when Ontario’s boundaries were pushed north to Hudson Bay, that the province took on the shape it has today.
Like many maps and town plans of the late 19th century, this map was produced on drafting linen, a cloth material known for its durability in handling, its ease of transporting, its ability to accommodate precise ink and graphite lines, and its translucency for making multiple reprographic prints.