Maps at Home with Matt Baker and Al Engler’s map of Lake St. Clair

A map of Lake St. Clair might not seem to fit on a site all about Detroit. However the lake is a significant piece of Detroit history as it led to the narrow “strait” off of the lake where we now say Detroit. Cadillac’s 1702 map of Lake St. Clair is one of the earliest cartographic depictions of Detroit. Lake St. Clair is sometimes called the “sixth Great Lake” because of its size and significant.

What is your map at home (title, year, etc.)

Al Engler’s Fishing Guide of Lake Saint Clair / 1950’s?

Where did you find/acquire the map?

Some friends rented a now demolished mansion on Riverside Drive in Windsor back in 2005 to film a movie. It’s at the end of Pillette Road, which is directly across the river from the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. One night after filming we decided to venture into the basement, and this map was hanging on the wall. I took it home and framed it and have been putting it up on the walls of our homes since then. It now resides on the kitchen wall in our house in Denver.

What made you hang it on your wall? What stood out to you? What details do you enjoy about the map?

I grew up on Lake St. Clair, and in Windsor and Detroit this is our “Great Lake”. The details are outstanding, and it’s not just a map but almost a brochure about the lake and surrounding area. There are notes about the types of fish and where is best to catch them, historical events mapped out across the lake, notes in the surround about other places to visit, tidbits about “Canada”, and even a note about the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary in Essex County. I know of one other version of this, newer and more colourful, at a friend’s place in Windsor. The only other one I’ve seen is in a scene from the movie Gran Torino in Clint Eastwood’s basement.

What in your background has drawn you to maps?

Maps have been a companion to my travels since a young age. Communication and graphic design meet perfectly for me with mapping technology, and my work with Denver Public Schools has brought a new use of spatial information. I also married a cartographer!

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