Massive archive of Yukon aerial photos now online

The Yukon government is digitizing its massive collection of aerial photos, and putting them online. 'We want to make the collection more accessible,' says government librarian Anna Pearson.

'We're getting close to having 10 per cent of the collection scanned,' says government librarian

It's a treasure trove of sometimes striking historic photos of Yukon's geography and it's slowly making its way online.

The territorial government has so far digitized more than 10,000 aerial photos taken across the Yukon and the work's barely begun. Some photos are just a few years old, while others date to the 1940s.

"We're getting close to having 10 per cent of the collection scanned," said Anna Pearson, who manages the government's Energy, Mines and Resources library. "The biggest impetus was definitely demand."

Pearson says the collection is regularly used by all sorts of people. Prospectors study the photos to find deposits. Climate change researchers look at how glaciers have changed in recent decades. Hikers and hunters look for backcountry trails. 

Until now, they could only see photos by coming into the government library in Whitehorse, where hard copies are stored in boxes and on shelves. 

Pearson says some photos are of better quality than others. The initial priority has been to digitize more recent and higher-resolution photos, especially those showing Yukon's communities.

"It's almost a universal reaction that when we show people this collection, they want to look up where their house is," she says.

"So, we think it would be really great if everyone in the Yukon would be able to do that, from their own computer."