I'm trying to design artistic cartouches for some maps that show traditional knowledge locations from specific First Nations in Canada so the cartouche's will reflect their Nation's identity, culture, etc...

I'm not having trouble with ornamental features or colours. I struggle trying to fit more modern elements like titles, descriptions, data sources, and maybe even projection/datum information.

Are there some guidelines I should follow when trying to decide what other elements "must" be in the cartouche?

In this case, the audience will be the knowledge holder (person who contributed to the information on the map) so that they can have a hardcopy of their work to share with whom they please.

The second set of maps will be for the community showing the comprehensiveness (everyones information) of the study. Possibly displayed on a wall in the community building for example.

Below is a small image of a simple cartouche from a historical map I have for those who don't know what I mean:

Cartouche on Klondike Gold Rush Map showing the All Canadian Route

2 Answers 2


The attached cartouche is a favorites because the native vegetation really adds another dimension to the map. The following link is a tremendous resource for examples of historic cartouches and should help you in your extremely interesting work. Best of luck!

Examples of historic cartouches

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  • What a great resource! It's been inspiring. I've noticed that there is nothing standardized about them other than the title to describe in some creative way the content of the map. Sometimes there is a vague title, and the objects speak for themselves.
    – SaultDon
    Commented Jul 8, 2012 at 21:19

I like the simple cartouche example you provided because I am from the Yukon. This may not be the answer you're looking for. However, it seems to me like you already have your answer. The cartocuche you want is to be reflective of your audience. It will contain relevant info for the specific content of the map as well as graphics designed that represent the First Nation group. I think there are no guidelines available because it's a matter of graphic design and placement of the elements you require in an artfull manner. Placement of graphics and info in cartography has always been the art part as we know, cartography/mapping is both an art and science. Consider balance, proportion, whitespace, and where you want the audience to focus attention. A cartouche is based upon the style of the times... perhaps you're wanting to blend past and present in your design. Try to design a cartouche that is meaningfull, like old maps for roalty were always full of symbols & colors that had meaning to the nation they ruled over, kind of like an emblem. Hope that helps.

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