GEOGRAPHY AND MAPS
And what is there in all the known world which maps and authors cannot instruct a man in as perfectly as his own eyes?
BISHOP HALL ( 1605).
"IN geography," wrote Dr. H. R. Mill, "we may take it as an axiom that what cannot be mapped cannot be described." This evidently follows, if we regard geography simply and sanely as the description of the surface of the earth and its "areal differentiation." The map becomes pre-eminently the geographer's tool both in investigation of his problems and the presentation of his results. This is evidently not to say that he alone is professionally concerned with maps; they are part of the equipment of civilized life and are used of necessity in many branches of learning. Still less does it mean that we can confound geography in the large with cartography. The geographer must be adequately trained in cartography, as in many other crafts, but the making of maps in the cartographic sense is not his main concern.
The geographer's prime need of maps is twofold. In the first place it is impossible for him personally to visit and inspect the whole surface of the earth. Travel is indeed vital to his work, but the travel of a lifetime would not replace the pictures given by maps. From this there sometimes arises a criticism that the geographer's work is "second-hand." In a sense the ground is the primary document, the map a secondary document, necessarily partial and imperfect. The criticism has a certain weight if our geography consists almost wholly of map-knowledge of distant areas. Surely, one might think, no study by professional geographers of maps of British Columbia can produce knowledge equal in validity, reality and detail