Manitoba displays a large range of vegetation types that are arranged with a climatically determined north/south zonation. Grass-covered areas in the south give way to parkland and forested areas further north and eventually to shrub tundra in the extreme northeast.
In southern and west central Manitoba, agriculture, grazing, forestry and urban development have drastically altered the natural vegetation, but vast areas in the north and northeast are in near pristine state. Vegetation that often obscures the earth’s surface is clearly shown on air photos; particularly useful are colour infrared images that can detect stressed areas. Wetlands cover about 40 percent of Manitoba and do not conform to the climatically determined zonal distribution of vegetation. They occur in all parts of the province and provide distinctive ground cover well shown on air photos.
Individual animals are too small to appear on all except very large-scale images. However, some animals (e.g. beaver) profoundly affect drainage systems.
In this high-level, small-scale photo deciduous forest in the leaf-on stage appears as very dark grey tones. The Brandon Hills 1, part of the Darlingford end moraine, are almost completely forested apart from a steep-sided, light-toned, grass-covered ridge at the east end 2. Riverine gallery forest—in this area mainly aspen (Populus tremuloides) and bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa)—shows as dark tones along the east bank of the Assiniboine River 3 as well as along the course of the Little Souris River 4. The light grey tone east of the Assiniboine 5 indicates that the land is mainly grass covered. Spring sapping has caused an eastward retreat of the east bank of the Assiniboine 6. West of the river several indefinite northwest/southeast trending lines 7 probably represent high-level Lake Agassiz strandlines. Poorly drained marshy land can be seen between them 8.
Most of the rest of the area is devoted to agriculture with the characteristic checkerboard pattern of the DLS. Occasional patches of deciduous trees interrupt the cropped landscape 9. Gravel roads follow most section lines. Their upkeep is a major drain on the financial resources of rural municipalities, and with the rural depopulation so representative of the area, many are likely to be abandoned.[i] PR 340 10, locally called “the Sunshine Highway” because it heads south from Brandon, runs east of the Brandon Hills, and with five right-angled bends on its route, clearly demonstrates the influence of the land division system on road directions in this area. Other transport lines include the north/south CN railway line 11 which used to terminate at the Prince Edward Hotel in central Brandon[ii] and the east/west CP line near the southern edge of the photo 12. The angular dark-toned areas in the northeast corner 13 are sewage lagoons for the town of Shilo, just off the photo to the northeast. The light-toned line leading from the lagoons to the Assiniboine 14 is a buried sewage pipeline.
The area is sparsely populated. The Brandon Hills settlement 15, occupied before Brandon was established, and Rounthwaite 16 are now completely abandoned. The greatest concentration of population is at the Hutterite Colony at Glen Souris 17.
Figure 5.2: Broadleaf Deciduous Forest in the Brandon Hills and Riverine Gallery Forest in the Assiniboine Valley
Vertical air photograph: A21666-108
Flight height: 22,420 feet a.s.l.; lens focal length: 85.611 mm
Date: July 21, 1970
Scale: 1:80,000 (approx.)
Location: Townships 8 and 9; Ranges 17 and 18 WI
Map sheets: 1:250,000 62G Brandon
1:50,000 62G/12 Wawanesa
[i] This process had already started by the time this photo was taken.
[ii] An obvious question is “why is there a bend in the line east of the Brandon Hills?” It is probably in some way related to the need to find a convenient crossing of the Little Souris River.