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Map Collection Resources

Air Photographs

The library holds approximately 800,000 federal, provincial and private air photos dating from 1924 to 2012 for Alberta and some areas of B.C, Yukon and NWT.  This is primarily a historical collection covering urban and rural areas of the province. 

To find an air photo:

You can find air photos by consulting the air photo indexes. Each photo is cross referenced to an index map that indicates the exact flight path and photo location. These flight paths/lines are plotted on 1:250,000 NTS sheets which are located on the 4th floor of Cameron Library.

  • First determine the National Topographic System (NTS) map number for the area you are interested in. You can consult the NTS grid map for Alberta on the wall or search the place name in the Canadian Geographical Names Database.
  • Folders of flight line indexes, separated out by NTS number, are filed in the vertical cases in the map collection area. Locate the folder for the NTS map sheet number you require. 
  • Within each folder will be many index maps - each with different years and / or scales of photography as indicated in the map margins. In general, the indexes are in order of oldest to most recent. You can limit your search by time period and scale of the photography. If you require a large area consider looking for small or medium scale photos (i.e. 3333' ~ 1:40,000)  as this will cut down on the number of photos you will need to consult. If you researching a small area with a lot of detail refer to the larger scale indices (i.e. 1320' - 2460'  ~ 1:15,000-1:32,000).

On the flight line index map locate your area of interest and the nearest flight line to it. Select the flight line number and determine the individual photo number (generally every 5th photo is marked). This flight line and photo number is the number required to find or order the air photo. We recommend that you select an area around your location (adjacent flight lines and photos) to ensure coverage and for stereoscopic viewing.

More detailed instructions provided on this guide.

Complete the blue request form following instructions in the guide and submit to the Cameron Service desk on the main floor.