Chapter 19: Legal Issues and Law Enforcement
Vertical air photos record situations that exist at a specific time and are particularly useful in recording changes if a sequence of photos of the same area exists. Property boundaries are difficult to define if they fall along a naturally changing feature such as a river channel. Three examples illustrate the legal problems that can arise.
Rivers have traditionally been used as boundaries between various administrative units: municipalities, counties, provinces, states, and even countries. However, they are unsatisfactory administrative boundaries because they change position over time resulting in ownership disputes.
19.3: Meanders on the Assiniboine River, Near the Junction with Birdtail Creek, 1994 Photo
This photo taken 38 years after that in figure 19.2 is at a larger scale and covers only the southern part of that photo. The “imminent cut off” at 8 is now completely abandoned, and, as its dark tone indicates, water no longer flows through it. Also, the “imminent cut off” at 9 has been abandoned, but historical records reveal that it was artificially cut off to prevent erosion of the Canadian National Railway line 14. Two other cut offs can be seen in the south (15 and 16) as well as an abandoned river segment 17. It seems likely that the main channel of the
Changes in river position in this area are of more than academic interest because the western boundary of the Birdtail Sioux First Nation is defined by the course of the
South fifteen chains and seventy five links, more or less, along the western boundary of said section 19 to its intersection with the left bank of the Assiniboine River; hence south easterly along the said bank of the said river to its intersection with the southern boundary of section four in said township.[i]
This intersection is located about a mile east of the eastern edge of the photo in figure 19.3.
A dashed line on the overlay marks the boundary. If the above wording is retained today and the east bank of the main course of the river defines the boundary, the size and shape of the First Nation will have changed. In the area of one cut off 8 the First Nation has gained some land but has lost more than it gained. However, the effect of the cut offs (9 and 16) will have been to add land to the First Nation (figure 19.4). Further complications will arise if the
Figure 19.3: Meanders on the Assiniboine River, Near the Junction with Birdtail Creek, 1994 Photo
Vertical air photograph: MB94003-98
Flight height: 13,203 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.765 mm
Scale: 1:30,000 (approx.)
Location: Townships 15 and 15; Ranges 27 and 28WI
Mapsheets: 1:250,000 62K Riding Mountain
1:50,000 62K/6 Birtle
[i] Descriptions and Plans of Certain Indian Reserves in the