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Category: Social Sciences, Map, Ontario

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Introduction From the time of Columbus, the American continent was seen by Europeans as a barrier between Europe and the Orient. A passage through it was the prime object of many voyages of exploration. Magellan had sailed around South America in 1520, but the icy northern shores were mysterious and seemed unassailable. The search for a sea route across the top of North America began in the 16th century as a commercial venture sponsored by London merchants. By the 19th century it was obvious that a Northwest Passage would not be a useful seaway, but finding it became an obsession, as did the attainment of the North Pole late in the century.

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Introduction The Special Collections at the Toronto Reference Library reveal a wonderful diversity of focus, form, age and content. Together, they form a cultural legacy that began in the late nineteenth century with the opening of Toronto's first public library. They continue to grow through acquisition and donation to ensure that users today and tomorrow have free access to their cultural and literary heritage. From the humble to the exquisite, each item in the collection has been treasured and preserved, and its story maintained by the librarians of the Toronto Public Library. In celebration of the Toronto Reference Library's thirtieth year at 789 Yonge Street, we proudly present a special exhibition from these collected works.

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This site documents two exploratory surveys of the Barren Lands region west of Hudson Bay, in northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan and the area now known as Nunavut. Drawing on materials from the J.B. Tyrrell, James Tyrrell and related collections at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, it includes over 5,000 images from original field notebooks, correspondence, photographs, maps and published reports.

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