Thursday, April 25, 2013

Looking at Meacham's 1880 PEI Atlas - lecture by Reg Porter

Meacham’s Atlas of Prince Edward Island, fondly known as “the Old Atlas” was published in 1880 and is one of the most valuable sources of topographical information about the Island available. It is filled with lot and community maps, pictures of the celebrities of the day and about 175 fine very attractive lithographs of houses and businesses across the Island. In this three-lecture series, heritage consultant Reg Porter, using new digital photographs of all the illustrations, will explore the Atlas to identify what it contains and also trace a number of aspects of Island architectural history.

Lecture 1 – Introduction to Meacham’s 1880 Atlas
Monday April 29 at 7:30 PM, Carriage House at Beaconsfield
Meacham’s Atlas is a huge folio volume of nearly 200 pages, packed full of maps and various illustrations. In this lecture Reg Porter will explore the contents of the Atlas and with illustrations identify many of the varied ways the volume can be used to study PEI history and the evolution of its topography. The nature of the 67 Lot maps will be explored to show the vast amount of information they contain about individual properties, harbours, railways, schools and churches.
Image cf.

Lecture 2 – Studying PEI Architectural History in Meacham’s Atlas.
Monday May 13 at 7:30 PM, Carriage House at Beaconsfield
There are over 125 fine lithographic prints, often in bird’s-eye view format, of homes, both urban and rural, across the Island. These pictures are not only of interest as works of art but they also contain a vast amount of information about the evolution of domestic architecture on the Island as well as the physical arrangement of many kinds of farms scattered throughout the countryside. Using these lithographs and supplementing them with modern photos of the buildings that still exist, the lecturer will trace the evolution of architecture on the island from colonial times to 1880.
Sample image from inside Altas.

Lecture 3 – The Church Illustrations in Meacham’s Atlas.
Monday May 27 at 7:30 PM, Carriage House at Beaconsfield
Among the nearly 150 illustrations of buildings found in Meacham’s Atlas only seven of them are churches and this presents something of an enigma. Why are all of them Catholic churches and why is one of them not yet constructed? Why are they all in the remote countryside and why are a number of very fine urban churches ignored? Using the lithographs from Meacham Reg Porter will identify these churches, discuss their significance and show contemporary photos of those buildings that yet remain.
Sample map from inside Atlas - Lots 17


  1. I was to the first lecture last evening. Reg told us about the man, J.H. Meacham, who operated out of Philadelphia. Meacham was born in 1847 and died as a result of a hunting accident in 1886 at the age of 39. His wife was from the New York area and was with him on PEI during the time he was collecting the substantial information for the 1880 Atlas of Prince Edward Island. During their time here their daughter was born - she passed away a few days short of her 100th birthday in USA. Meacham published at least five atlas in Canada - three counties in Ontario; Pictou County, NS; and Prince Edward Island.

  2. The illustration above for Lot 17 is from the Lake map of 1863, not from Meacham.