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REF NO.: 363

SUBJECT: Generous donation a significant addition to Memorial’s map collection
DATE: July 12, 2005

Memorial University’s Queen Elizabeth II Library is now home to an impressive collection of early maps of Newfoundland and Labrador thanks to a generous donation from the late Dr. Fabian O’Dea’s family. Ninety-nine maps were donated and 27 of those maps will be on display in the First Space Gallery, first floor of the library, until the end of August. There will be a public reception to recognize this extraordinary donation on Friday, July 15 from 5:30-7 p.m.People planning to attend are asked to RSVP to Carol Sullivan at 737-7429or carol@mun.ca. Parking is available in Lot18, adjacent to the clock tower on Memorial’s St. John’s campus.

Speaking about the donation, Dr. Richard Ellis, university librarian, Queen Elizabeth II Library said, “This gift represents an extraordinary act of generosity on the part of Dr. Fabian O'Dea and his family. The collection is of national significance; notable for the condition of the items and the scholarship that informed its composition. The library is honored to be the means through which this magnificent collection can be preserved for the people of our province.”

“We had a great deal of contact with Fabian O’Dea over the years,” said Joan Ritcey of the Centre for Newfoundland Studies. “His study of the early cartography of Newfoundlandand Labrador was more than a hobby, it was an avocation and a deep academic interest. He was a dear friend to us all and we are honoured to have this magnificent collection.”

“An island like Newfoundlandis of great interest to map collectors because we are the site of the earliest new world exploration,” added Alberta Wood, acting associate university librarian. “The significance of the collection is that it gives us 49 maps of Newfoundlandand Labradorthat we never had, including 25 nautical charts. Dated from 1556 to 1979, all of the maps are in very good condition and represent the largest donation of early maps that we have ever received.”

Dr. O’Dea was a well known public figure, former naval officer, one-time French consul, businessman, barrister, former lieutenant-governor, honorary colonel of the Newfoundland Regiment, art connoisseur and scholar. He had a lifelong interest in Newfoundlandand cartography which began during his World War II service. He had a particular interest in Captain Cooke’s hydrographic work around Newfoundland, the French Shore, and the ‘wandering’ location of Pointe Riche on maps during the 18th century. His scholarly work included The Seventeenth Century Cartography of Newfoundland, published in 1971 as the first Cartographica monograph. He completed a book shortly before his death titled Cartographica Terra Nova: Mapping the Island of Newfoundland, 1500-1800, which is now ready to go to print.

One-hundred and twenty three of Dr. O’Dea’s cartographic books were bequeathed to the library upon his death and will further add to the reference materials available for research into early Newfoundland and Labrador.

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