Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island


The Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island, colloquially known as Meacham’s Atlas of 1880, was one of the first attempts to map PEI in its entirety. A whole host of information can be found within the atlas; from detailed maps of each of the lots on the island – down to the individual houses, to realistic drawings of prominent citizens and their properties. It is a dream resource for any Island historian!

The Meacham’s Atlas maps before mosaicing.

For us at the GeoREACH lab, the atlas represents yet another opportunity to compile data on energy usage on the island during this period. We can see in the atlas the individual lots that compose our island even to today, each with personalized property information. The cartographers went so far as to outline the individual houses, barns, other infrastructure and property owners for each lot.

The Meacham’s Atlas maps after being mosaiced.

An important step in gathering the data from Meacham’s Atlas was to centralize all the available rasters (individual images) to a single resource. As all the lots were created independently, they would have to be stitched together into a single, geographically accurate map in a process formally known as mosaicing. This is why we have made, using GIS, a comprehensive mosaic of all the lots to easier represent this information.

The building points displayed over the entirety of Prince Edward Island.

Beyond that, we also entered data points for the over 16,000 buildings indicated on the map. Though it is still a work in progress, it is now available to be explored. You can adjust the different layers through the content window to look at churches, houses, mills, or schools, or can zoom in to a region you know well to see what it looked like in 1880!

Click here to explore the map.

Welcome to the GeoREACH Lab Website


Land Use in Wheatley River, PEI (1935)

Welcome! The GeoREACH Lab supports Geospatial Research in Atlantic Canadian History and other projects of the Applied, Communications, Leadership & Culture program in the Faculty of Arts at University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI). The lab is directed by Dr. Josh MacFadyen, an environmental historian and Canada Research Chair in Geospatial Humanities at UPEI.

The Lab’s current projects focus on the history of food and agriculture in Canada, and we study the ways that the modern food system has shaped our relationships with animals and the land. Prince Edward Island was a relative late adapter of modern industrial agriculture, and in many ways it is still going through this profound social-ecological transition. This presents an opportunity to interview, map, and otherwise study the causes and impacts of agro-ecosystem transformation in one place over time.

We hope you will check out the About page keep watching this site for ongoing information on the research we are doing at UPEI.

Dominion Day Thoughts

“Once more Dominion day comes to have us honor again Canada’s anniversary of birth. A July child she is, born in Island places.

Canada? What does the name signify to Canadians?

We recall that the distinguished Canadian Beverly Baxter, now and for years domiciled in London, remembered after a visit to his native shores but her “kindness and courtesies” but also “the thousand glimpses of Canadian beauty… a full moon over Rockies so dazzling that the eyelids were forced down like a curtain… a mountain stream of light grey blue gurgling its story as it went sunlight dancing upon the water against a misty background of an Island in the Pacific… a solitary bark canoe on a northern lake paddled by an Indian stripped to the waist as if the white man had never come… New Brunswick’s countryside crowned with garlands of wispy cloud as we soared above them in a plane… the lights of ships reflected on the waters as midnight came to Halifax…

 To Island farm- folks such as we, Canada is, we would say a friendly sky arched over a vast and varied domain farmland and forest, lake and river, mountain and plain. Hamlet and city; bounded by seas warm and colder, and a long, unprotected but respected neighbourly line, which separates Dominion and States.

To us too, Canada means every blessing and love and loveliness of earth. It is within certain limitations — the right to live our lives as we choose with many a privilege and opportunity offered in this free land that is ours. It is a home, little or larger in valley, on hilltop or some where we choose to be, with a school, a church, good neighbours and all that about which makes life good.

It is within reason, the right to work at the calling or occupation of one’s choice which as Stevenson said “If any man love the labour of any trade, apart from the question of success or failure, the gods have called him and he is indeed blest.

Canada —our own land, we salute you Good Luck and God Bless you we say as you step over the threshold into another year. May you continue to grow strong and great.”

                                                                                     – Ellen’s Diary, June 30th, 1956


In this excerpt from Ellen’s Diary, Ellen channeled Sir Beverly Baxter’s 1949 MacLean’s article, I Found a new Canada, and then reflected on what Canada meant to “Island farm folks.”

Red Fields Are Cultivated And Grain Land Is Sown

“Lovely, so lovely this day was. And at Alderlea, wholly pleasant, its paths. Busy, naturally. But as James said at supper, “when the machines work well, and the weather keeps, what more can we ask of the seedtime?” All our red fields have been cultivated, and now much of the grain-land is seeded. A few more days if fine should see the cropping here come to an end.

What has it given them, we wonder of these farmers of ours? Only the satisfaction of seeing their plans worked out on the stirred fields, good as these are? The seeds tucked tidily away in the best seedbeds they could make? Just the sowings and plantings — the be-all and end-all in a way, of our livelihood? Or did they also, as they tended faithfully to the affairs of their calling, hear the delightful bird-tunes threading in, bright and cherry in the mornings? And toward dusk the Evensong, in a manner quite as reverent as that participated in by folks in church pews. 

High and wide is this cathedral’s arched dome. And mellow the light which filters through the stained glass windows over the treetops to the west — Have they remembered as the seeds fell and were covered, tales of old land? Stories of wheat and tares of flour and the grinding of ovens and bread? For the words are old, old as the first seedtime — and very lovely too.

And been happy? And confident that no matter the world’s joys and tribulations, its triumphs and failures, its hopes and distrusts, that seedtimes and harvest will be”

                                                                                                 – Ellen’s diary, June 15th, 1962


The farmer’s need

“Canada needs the greatest possible cooperation between the livestock and poultry producers within all parts of Canada toward improving production methods, improving production methods, lowering production costs, improving selling methods and improving distribution methods.

We need the greatest cooperation between the producers of animal and poultry products with the grain growers and manufacturers of mill feeds toward financing and holding of feed stores for use in Canada.

There is a need for the study of means by which increased consumption of milk, cheese, lamb, beef etc. especially of Canadian origin might be affected within Canada.

There is a need for the development of a much broader statistical study which would show trends in production markets and costs, not only in Canada but in other countries as well, which would be a guide to economic increases in Canada’s production. The newly created Branch of Economics in the Federal Department of Agriculture should form a splendid nucleus for this work.

Whether increased production in Canada comes now or later, livestock farmers must be prepared for the same. There never was a better time to liquidate all cull livestock than at the present favourable prices.

This in itself raises the average standard and production capabilities of our livestock to a degree which not only lowers production costs but places us in a better position to face whatever market conditions we may have to meet.”

– Newsy notes, June 27th 1930


Community Pasture Program

Recently at the GeoREACH Lab, we have taken an interest in the Community Pasture Program in Atlantic Canada. Its prairie province counterpart is undoubtedly better known for its role in Western Canada’s agricultural recovery after the Great Depression. Still, the initiative was brought to this side of the country as well. In 1962, an Island farmer named Ken MacLean, along with several other community members, founded the Lot 16 Community Pasture. With help from ARDA, and later the LDC, community pastures expanded on PEI beyond Lot 16, and by 1979 the program had over seven thousand acres of land across all three counties.

The program was essential for the implementation of proper pasture management practices on Prince Edward Island. It also provided Island farmers with the chance to pasture their animals for a low price (often less than a dollar per day) and use their lands for hay and silage instead. For much of the 20th century, the main goal of farmers on the Island was to come up with enough fodder to feed the rapidly growing herds. The community pastures helped alleviate some of this demand, which often exceeded what individual farms could meet on their own land and dollar alone.

Using energy analysis tools, we will be exploring the various roles that community pastures have played in the local grazing communities for the past sixty years. Stay tuned for updates!


“Community Pasture.” 1976. In Pages from the Past, edited by Violet MacGregor, Eileen Manderson, Jennie Betton and Etta Hutchinson, 51-52: Lot 16 Women’s Institute.

Prince Edward Island Land Development Corporation: Activities and Impact 1970-1977. 1979. Ottawa: Minister of Supply and Services Canada.

Rogers, David. 1963. Grasslands, Pastures, Silage and Hay: A Major Resource of Prince Edward Island. Charlottetown: UPEI.