Aerial photo archive to visit Prince Albert Museum next week

Homestead Aerial Photo A sample of one of the photos that Homestead Aerial Photo has in their archives.

The Prince Albert Museum plans to give visitors a unique chance to find memories and family history next week.

Homestead Aerial Photo will be at the Museum on July 13 and 14 with their aerial photos that can be keepsakes or gifts for the family. Kim Bessette of Homestead Aerial said the photos date from 1953 to 2000 and cover all of the prairie provinces.

“It’s a chance for people just to be able to go back and find the original aerial photos of those farms that they grew up on,” Bessette said.

The photos were taken with no flight restrictions so the detail is excellent and shows day-to-day life on the farm. Bessette said the photos often become a piece of the family history.

“A lot of people don’t realize the old photos are still available because that was all shot on spec,” he explained. “You had no idea when they were flying over to photograph it.”

Visitors can also locate archival photos of places like towns, churches and businesses.

After taking the photos, salesmen in the 1950s and 1960s would then attempt to go back to the farm in winter to make sales. Unfortunately, not all of them arrived.

“I see all kinds of reports on the back of the proofs: ‘can’t get through, roads are blocked, full of snow’,” Bessette explained. “There was all kinds of reasons why those photos were never sold and then people never knew about it.”

Homestead Aerial Photo plans to bring physical proofs when they were in Prince Albert. Bessette said the visit allows people to do some investigating.

“It’s a chance for people to actually go through the library, give us their land location and then I will have a map of all of the areas where these farms are,” he said. “They have to show me on a map where the farm was located and then that corresponds to a pack of proofs which is basically 40 farm shots. Then I will give that to the customer and they can just look through it and find their farm. Of course, they are going to see all of their neighbours.”

People can also bring the driving directions from the nearest small town for directions to locate the farm.

“If you don’t know the legal (title) that’s not a big issue,” Bessette said. “We just need to narrow it down on the map where the farm was located.”

They will be setting up at the Museum on July 13 and 14 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday. The next week they are also at the Ag in Motion Farm Show in Langham from July 19 to 21.

“Some people will come and see us there, but if you’re not going out there to look at farm equipment this is a much easier event to come and see the photos, especially if you are a senior,” he said.

Bessette explained that the target audience is sometimes expected to be seniors but really everyone is generally interested. Bessette gave the example of being at Canada’s Farm Show in Regina where there were customers in their late teens and early 20s looking for pictures of their family farms.

“Which is good, it’s nice to see that the interest is there no matter what the age bracket,” Bessette said.

The older photos were hand colourized when they were enlarged after being originally printed in black and white.

“The salesman would sit down and put a number on all of the buildings which would correspond back to a certain colour,” he explained. “Then they had this room of women in Edmonton back in the 50s that would paint these pictures before they were shipped out.”

He added that if anyone who recalls an aerial photo from a relative’s home, they could probably assist you in locating it for a reproduction. All people need is some evidence of the land location and Bessette and his team can locate the photo in the archive.

“People that maybe live in Prince Albert, maybe the husband or the wife are from a Manitoba farm or maybe they are from an Alberta farm. Maybe they are from a farm down by Eastend or down by Maple Creek. Some of that stuff we will have along. We can’t physically bring the entire library because it’s well over a million images,” Bessette said.

He added that the cross section of photos in Prince Albert would be vast because of the number of customers from all over they expect.

“It’s just a little piece of family history, I guess, for people to come and see,” he said.