Generally the atlases sold in Canadian bookstores are either of British or American origin. The American ones are easy to spot. They use a cartographical method that makes the United States appear larger than Canada. Canada is of course the larger country.
I want revenge for this. And no, producing a Canadian atlas that makes Canada appear larger is not revenge. That is only the truth. No, I think we are going to have to mock American geographical icons.
Since I want an easy target, let’s look at the “continental divide” of the Mississippi River. Firstly to divide a continent it should properly go from one end of the continent to another. Like most river systems it of course only goes about half way. More properly the mighty Mississippi is the “United States divide”.
But that nearly straight, north-south divide is suspicious. It’s almost as if the original explorers wanted a “United States divide”. We’ve all seen those longest-rivers-in-the-world lists and the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson is considered the fourth longest river in the world. Shouldn’t the Mississippi more properly go along the longest possible length? So I was originally going to say that the Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson should be renamed the Mississippi. The rest of the present day trek of the Mississippi should be called the Missouri. Now I know this redivision will annoy Americans. But it’s not all that annoying – the state of Missouri can stay where it is, for instance.
But in my studies I have found a way to make Americans more annoyed and disturbed by cartographical changes. Shouldn’t the river that retains the name where it empties out into the sea have the most flow? Now, coming up the Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico, we will continue up what is now known as the Ohio-Allegheny. You see the Ohio-Allegheny has more flow than the combined Mississippi-Missouri-Jefferson. So Pittsburgh and the state of Ohio, would then become part of the mighty Mississippi. Which means we’ll have to find a new name for the state of Ohio. Instead of naming Ohio after it’s southern boundary, we can now name it after the great lake it borders to the north. Welcome to the renamed state of Erie. Sorry, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Continuing up what was formerly the Mississippi, we decide to call it the Ohio river, since that was the most powerful of the two biggest tributaries. But once we reach what was once the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri-Jefferson we must decide which way the Ohio continues. The Ohio was known for it’s huge flow of water. Since the Missouri-Jefferson has the largest flow of both rivers, we will continue up that way saying it is all the Ohio River.
This leads to the question of what to call the state of Missouri which now borders just the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Well there is no longer a state called Ohio so that name is up for grabs. After all, the former state of Missouri now has it’s longest border defined by the Ohio.
Going up the former Missouri, now the Ohio, it’s longest extension takes us into the Jefferson River. The only thing we can do is rename it the Allegheny to keep the Ohio-Allegheny together. We can also call the extension of the new Mississippi (that used to be the Allegheny) the Jefferson River. This way Mount Jefferson, which used to start the Jefferson river, can now be called Mount Allegheny. And out east, the new Jefferson river can now be flowing out of the Jefferson Mountains.
Perhaps you feel it is too much of a demotion to go from being the name of a mountain range to the name of one mountain. But let me tell you that this new Mount Allegheny is 10 203 feet high. Whereas the highest peak in the Jefferson Mountains is 4 682 feet.
So of course the old upper Mississippi will be called the Missouri. This way the “United States divide” will become the Mississippi-Ohio-Missouri.
Aren’t you glad that I have made United States geography rational?