Surveying Northern British Columbia

Surveying Northern British Columbia, written by Jay Sherwood, is a photojournal about one of British Columbia’s most well known pioneer surveyors. From 1908 to 1914 Frank Swannell surveyed a large area of northern British Columbia for the provincial government. Even more important for the history of this province, he took a camera with him and recorded the history of the area. Swannell’s surveys took him to remote areas that few people visited. His photographs include the First Nations people of the area, Hudson’s Bay posts, a variety of transportation, many famous people of the region, and the daily life of his surveying crew. These pictures are an outstanding photographic record of life in northern British Columbia during the early 20th century. Swannell took over 1,100 photographs during these seven years, and about 150 are included in the book. The text is based largely on the field journals that he kept.

The BCLS provided funding for producing the photographs and the copyright publication costs from the BC Archives as part of its centennial. Surveying Northern British Columbia is published by Caitlin Press (, It is also available through Harbour Press or Chapters bookstores. Caitlin Press is offering a 20% discount to BCLS members if the book is ordered from them.