Alpine Club of Canada

Gazette, Spring 2018

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by mary sanseverino F or 20 years, the Mountain Legacy Project (MLP), based in the School of Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, has been using repeat photography to examine landscape level change in the Canadian mountain west. Using historical moun‑ tain images of amazing fidelity, MLP teams seek to determine the location they were taken from, go to the same place, and re‑photograph the images as accur‑ ately as possible. e MLP researchers then align and analyze the historic and modern images and make them available for use by scholars, students, government agencies, NGOs, schools, the public at large — in fact, anyone interested in exploring Canada's mountain heights. The world's largest collection Canada is fortunate indeed to have the world's largest collection of system‑ atically taken historic mountain images. Most of the ranges in B.C., Alberta and the Yukon have extensive coverage. e earliest photographs date back to 1861 and are from the Canada/USA International Boundary Commission survey along the 49th parallel. Of the approximately 120,000 images known to exist, the vast majority come from topographic mapping efforts. Although some reside in private collections, most are held at Library and Archives Canada / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada in Gatineau, Quebec, the B.C. Archives in Victoria, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. Made-in-Canada technique How did Canada come to amass this treasure trove? Imagine it's the latter part of the 1800s. e newly formed country of Canada faces many challenges, not least of which is how to map the exten‑ sive mountain landscapes of the Canadian mountain west. Enter Édouard Deville, then Surveyor General of Canada. In 1886 he introduced a mapping method called phototopography to his surveyors. is made‑in‑Canada technique required a specially designed camera to be packed up to summits or other high points where a series of panoramic images of the area to be mapped would be taken. Altitude measurements at the photo station — along with angles back to other stations, peaks and/or fixed points — were also recorded. Repeat photography exposes mountain changes Inset black and white image of Mount Assiniboine taken in 1913 by Arthur Wheeler as part of the Interprovincial Boundary Survey between BC and Alberta. Mountain Legacy Project repeat photo of Mount Assiniboine taken in 2017. | En encadré, l'image en noir et blanc du mont Assiniboine d'Arthur Wheeler prise en 1913 pour la Commission de la frontière internationale entre l'Alberta et la Colombie-Britannique. Photo reprise en 2017 pour le projet Mountain Legacy. 8 The Alpine Club of Canada Gazette spring 2018

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