Photostory #410: From the Air: Full-Face Portrait of a Nation: Canada's National Air Photo Library

Ted Grant , G. Leonkardt
National Film Board of Canada
Release Date
February 15, 1966
CMCP fonds
Credit Line
Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography fonds, National Gallery of Canada Library and Archives
Main Text
No matter where a Canadian lives, be it in a plush penthouse atop a skyscraper in a large city or in a remote settlement along a barren arctic coast, his place of residence and its surroundings have been photographed from the air by the federal government. He can buy a print of that same bird's-eye view which provides a compact (10-inch by 10-inch) true-to-life map of the area. This unique public service is the work of Canada's Air Photo Library in Ottawa. Though established over 40 years ago as a central agency to file and control all government air photos taken for mapping and development purposes when Canada was blazing the trail that led to the modern science of photogrammetry, the Air Photo Library today fills many requests for private individuals who want an aerial picture of their farm, summer cottage site or their favorite fishing and hunting grounds. With almost as many pictures (well over 3,000,000) as Canada has square miles, this division of the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys (expected soon to become the new Department of Energy, Mines and Resources) has become a big business, selling half a million photos a year. Most of these pictures are bought by the companies, agencies, divisions of government and other professionals who are busy in such fields as geology, prospecting, engineering, forestry, charting, mapping, town planning and similar studies. Many others are ordered by private citizens planning a wilderness trip, selecting a building site, purchasing land, preparing a wall display or who are just interested in seeing what their surroundings look like from the air. Recent experimental work in aerial color photography by the department may soon lead to the availability of color pictures that will be of increased use and interest. Today, for sixty cents, Canadians can get a print showing what any part of the country they are interested in looks like from on high and for just one dollar obtain an enlarged close-up of any particular portion.