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- British Columbia. Ministry of Forests (1988-2005)
- British Columbia. Ministry of Forests and Lands
- British Columbia. Dept. of Lands
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The Dept. of Lands was established in 1908 (Department of Lands Act, SBC 1908, c. 31). Before 1908 the agencies responsible for the functions of the Dept. of Lands: (1) the Dept. of Lands and Works (Crown lands management, sales, pre-emptions and leases, lands surveying and mapping, timber inspection, forest protection and log scaling), and (2) the Dept. of Mines (water rights in regards to mining operations).
The Dept. of Lands, headed by the Chief Commissioner of Lands, was given responsibility for public lands and water rights, and all matters connected therewith. (SBC 1908, c. 31, s. 5). These responsibilities included: (1) the management of all public lands, as per the Land Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 113); (2) administration of water rights, as per the Water Clauses Consolidation Act, (RSBC 1897, c. 191) [in 1892 by means of the Water Privileges Act (SBC 1892, c. 47), the government had reserved to itself the right to manage all water resources in the province that were unreserved and un-appropriated as of April 23, 1892]; and (3) land settlement programs for returned soldiers.
In 1909, the enactment of the Water Act (SBC 1909, c. 48) resulted in the creation of the Water Rights Branch of the Dept. of Lands, under the management of the Chief Water Commissioner (re-named Comptroller of Water Rights in 1912). This legislation also resulted in the creation of Water Districts under the management of District Engineers, who would be responsible for management in the field of the Branch’s responsibilities.
In 1911, the Timber Department, including Timber Inspectors, forest protection services and log scaling operations, was transferred from the Dept. of Public Works to the Dept. of Lands. In 1912, the management of timber resources was formally added to the department’s responsibilities with the enactment of the Forest Act (SBC 1912, c. 17). To accommodate these new responsibilities, the Forest Branch, under the Chief Forester, was created in the Dept. of Lands. In 1945, the Dept. of Lands was renamed the Dept. of Lands and Forests (Department of Lands Act Amendment Act, SBC 1945, c. 45).
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The Ministry of Forests and Lands was established in 1986 as the successor to the Dept. of Forests (OIC 1491/86). As part of this reorganization, the functions relating to Crown lands were taken from the Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing and merged with with this new ministry. The ministry was responsible for the management of crown land resources of the Crown and the planned use of such land. The department was also responsible for encouraging maximum productivity of those resources.
The Ministry was organized into four divisions, each led by an assistant deputy minister. These divisions included: Forestry; Timber and Lands Marketing; Forests and Land Operations; and Management Services.
The Assistant Deputy Minister of the Forestry Division was also the Chief Forester. The Forestry Division's branches included: Integrated Resources (Planning, Recreation and Range); Inventory; Research; Silviculture; and Protection. The Forest Regions were the responsibility of the Forest and Lands Operations Division. The Timber and Land Marketing Division consisted of two distinct sections: Timber (Timber Harvesting and Industry Development and Marketing); and Lands (Land Policy, Land Acquisition and Marketing, Surveyor-General).
This reorganization expanded the responsibilities of the former Ministry of Forests to include activities relating to the marketing, settlement, surveying, and disposal of Crown Lands.
In August 1988 the Ministry of Forests and Lands reverted to the name Ministry of Forests. Responsibilities for Crown lands were transferred to the newly established Ministry of Crown Lands.
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The series consists of ca. 4300 negatives and ca. 5000 photographic prints taken from forest lookouts between 1936 and 1993. Falling under the function of forest protection, "lookout photography" or "panoramic lookout photography" was first initiated in B.C. in 1936. It involved taking a set of eight large-format film images at 263 fire lookout sites.
The negatives were used to create 20 x 32 cm (7½ x 12¾" black and white photo prints, and a grid was photographically superimposed on each print, indicating the compass bearing from 0 to 360 degrees and vertical angle from +10 to -15 degrees from the horizontal. These prints were bound into book form, and kept on hand in the lookout and at the Ranger Station to aid in communicating the details of fire locations using visual references. They were also used to orient the fire finder in the lookout - a rotatable sighting device mounted over a map located in the centre of the building. The books list the date of the images and the location. Some books also contain notations on the photos. The series also contains 2 boxes of photographic proofs which contain information about the date and time that the image was taken and the weather conditions at that time.
In the photographing process, bearings were established with the use of a surveyor's transit and level, and an interchangeable camera. With the transit, the photographer determined the precise known bearing of a distant reference object (usually a mountain peak or another lookout, sometimes a topographic survey cairn). By lifting the transit off the mount and replacing it with the camera, they could then take their eight photographs at 45-degree horizontal intervals. Photographs from the lookout were taken in this order: shot #1, North; shot #2, 45 degrees; shot #3, East; shot #4, 135 degrees; shot #5, South; shot #6, 225 degrees; shot #7, West; shot #8, 315 degrees. A suitable camera was initially borrowed from another agency until one specially built by the National Research Council in Ottawa was obtained in the summer of 1945. One report from the late 1940s states that the eight views each included a horizontal angle of 50 degrees, so that the full panorama was completed with an overlap of 5 degrees per photograph. Photos were taken on infrared film to maximize haze penetration, and a duplicate set of negatives were taken with panchromatic.
Most lookouts were photographed at least once; some were photographed two or three times. This “rephotography” was deemed necessary when there were appreciable changes, over time, in a view from a lookout. Changes in view were caused by various factors: elimination of vegetative cover due to wildfires or logging; the erecting, rebuilding or relocation of a tower; construction of dams; or the change in view caused by tree clearing at the mountain summit. Most lookouts were sites that had established structures; however, some were undeveloped sites.
The photography was sometimes carried out by a two-man crew consisting of UBC forestry students. In time, "visibility mapping" to evaluate potential new lookout sites was combined with lookout photography at existing sites; in some years a two-man crew would do both. Access to lookout sites by helicopter was used by 1960. The same crews sometimes also took photographs on behalf of the National Parks Service for parks lookouts located in B.C. For some years there was limited or no field work undertaken in either lookout photography or visibility mapping. The last photos were taken by professional surveyors on a contract basis as a pilot project.
The majority of the lookout structures were built by the B.C. Forest Service; however, several had been built by the federal government to fulfill their obligation to protect timber from wildfire within the Railway Belt. In 1930 the Railway Belt and its lookout structures were turned over to the Province of B.C.
The number of lookouts that were staffed declined in the late 1970s and early 1980s as other means of fire detection became more efficient, notably, aircraft patrols and public reporting. In addition, the electronic lightning location system that began in 1980 indicated where lightning activity had occurred, and computer models then predicted the likely location and number of new lighting-caused and people-caused fires. The decline in fire lookouts was due to technological changes, and cost-benefit analyses probably showed that some lookouts were no longer good investments. Lookout photography was given up as lookouts declined in value.
The photographs are a resource for studying landscape change. Old harvesting, regeneration, and the impacts of wildfire and urban expansion may be observed in many of the photograph sets.
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