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.
19.7: The Boundary of the Hudson Bay Company Reserve at Fort Ellice, 1994 Photograph
The sequential photos shown in figures 19.5, 19.6, and 19.7 were taken in 1945, 1956, and 1994 respectively.
On figure 19.5 there is one prominent dark-toned oxbow lake 1 and three imminent cut offs (2, 3, and 4). Eleven years later (figure 19.6) the imminent cut off 2 has occurred leaving behind a relatively dark toned oxbow lake 5; the imminent cut off 3 is very close, whereas the third one 4 has some way to go. On figure 19.7, 38 years later the imminent cut off 3 has occurred, leaving behind an oxbow 6, but the meander neck at 4 is still extant.
The significance of these changes for land ownership is profound in that the original boundary of the Hudson Bay Company Reserve is the west bank of the main river channel (figure 19.8). Neither of the two imminent cut offs (2 and 3) had occurred by 1920 (figure 19.9). If the western bank of the main channel of the river is maintained as the boundary of the reserve, a large area of land surrounded by the two oxbows (5 and 6) has been lost.[i] It would be interesting to trace land ownership in the area over the last 100 years.
Figure 19.7: The Boundary of the Hudson Bay Company Reserve at Fort Ellice, 1994 Photograph
Figure 19.7: 1994 Photograph
Vertical air photograph: MB 94002-187
Flight height: 13,200 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 152.715 mm
Date: May 15, 1994
Scale: 1:30,000 (approx.)
Location: Township 16; Range 28WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62K Riding Mountain
1:50,000 62K/6 Birtle
[i] Welsted, J. “Straight or Crooked: An Assessment of Manitoba’s Boundaries” in The Yorkton Papers. ed. J. Welsted and J. Everitt. Brandon: Brandon University, Brandon Geographical Studies, No. 2, 1997, 180-190.