This study developed a GIS-based MCE model to identify the most likely routes taken by sailing ships carrying timber between Britain, British North America, and the West Indies from 1805-1840. Accurate representations of historic timber shipping routes are desired by historians seeking to further understand contemporary culture and climates, through the use of dendro-provenancing techniques. The study used a combination of one constraint and four criteria to identify the most suitable routes for sailing ships across the Atlantic Ocean. Wind speed, wind direction, ocean current speed, ocean current direction, and bathymetric data were combined into a cost surface. Two analyses were then used to determine paths across the ocean: least-cost pathway and distributive flow tool. The DFL resulted in a more effective output and routes were displayed based on networks of origins and associated destinations for every time period. While the resulting routes were successful in maneuvering the cost surface over the ocean, there are many steps that can be taken to improve its "ship-like" quality. These steps include incorporating more factors, testing out finer resolutions, and exploring variations in scaling.
This objective of this study was to develop a model to provide a primary analysis for the identification of the most likely routes taken by timber shipments in the early to mid-nineteenth century. It should be noted that this should only be used as a preliminary analysis of the suitable routes as not all locations were considered due to time constraints. Recommendations for future work are to focus on the implementation of all origin and destination points to create a complete analysis of all timber shipments during the study period. Additional criteria should also be explored to develop increasingly accurate representations of shipping routes. There may be other factors that dictate the way ships were driven in the 1800s that were beyond the scope of this study. To conclude, this GIS-based model provides the tools to visually represent likely routes taken by sailing ships carrying timber in the early to mid-nineteenth century, furthering historical knowledge of this time period.