Winnipeg was until 1871 a fur-trading post on the Red River with just 246 inhabitants. Thirty years later, when this view was published, it was a flourishing communications and agricultural centre with a population of over 42,000.
Between the 1830s and 1920s, lithographed bird’s-eye views were produced for over 2,500 different North American towns and cities. There was a vigorous demand for these views as domestic wall-hangings, and as publicity material for real-estate agents and chambers of commerce.
For each view, the artist would draw from a street plan a projection or framework showing the town in perspective. He then perambulated each street to make sketches of the buildings. These were redrawn on the projection to show the town as viewed from a high angle oblique position some 2,000-3,000 feet above the ground, producing an effect similar to de’Barbari’s view of Venice, 1500.
Once finished, the views were printed by lithography, an inexpensive and straightforward process in a continent without a strong tradition of engraving.
This view is a coloured lithograph, for which impressions were taken from four different stones on which elements of the finished design had been inked in black, red, yellow, and blue. The registration marks, which enabled the printer to assess the alignment of the four printings, can be seen at the edges of the sheet.
- Article by:
- James Elliot
- Transforming topography, Town and city
James Elliot explores the development of town plans through technical and social change during the 19th century.