April 9, 2009


McMaster University to acquire rare trench maps to build on its extensive collection


Hamilton, ON. April 9, 2009 –McMaster University is set to acquire a rare and significant  collection of World War I trench maps from one of the world’s leading experts, tripling  its current archival collection to become one of the largest in the country.

The collection of more than 900 maps comes from Peter Chasseaud, a renowned authority on First World War military maps, who has been building the collection in the United Kingdom for more than four decades. It was made possible thanks to more than $56,000 in funding under the Movable Cultural Property Grants Program on behalf of the Honorable James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. 

“Our collection of trench maps is truly one of the best in North America and we are grateful for this support from Canadian Heritage,” says Jeff Trzeciak, University Librarian.  “This addition to our collection significantly enhances our ability to provide a valuable resource to researchers, students and the public in general. We are thrilled that this important piece of Canadian history will be preserved and readily available to future generations.”

Many of the maps, originally produced by the British Ordnance Survey, were the only ones available to the Canadian Forces during World War I.  They cover battles of significant importance to Canadian troops, including Preparation for Battle of Arras, Vimy, March 1917 and Cambrai Battlefield – North: Final Advance 1918.

 “A collection of this nature provides people with an excellent opportunity to learn more about our long and rich military history and the important role Canadian troops played during the First World War,” says David Sweet, Member of Parliament for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale. “The Government of Canada is very proud to support this important vehicle to preserve our heritage.”

A large number of maps are from the earlier part of the war from 1915 to 1916, when sheet production was severely limited.  Because they were produced in smaller quantities –and trench conditions were terrible— few have survived.  The collection also includes approximately eighty, very rare “secret” maps, which were produced in very small numbers and were not intended to be circulated outside of headquarters.

The addition of these trench maps, will bring the Library’s collection to over 1300 maps, which include trench maps, artillery maps and officers' planning maps, mostly from the Allied forces, but also include some from German and French troops

McMaster University, one of four Canadian universities listed among the Top 100 universities in the world, is renowned for its innovation in both learning and discovery. It has a student population of 23,000, and more than 140,000 alumni in 128 countries.


For additional information contact:

Michelle Donovan

Public Relations Manager, Broadcast Media

McMaster University

905-525-9140, ext. 22869