Most distant fastnesses: the photography of the 1887 Yukon Expedition
thesisposted on 08.06.2021, 14:46 by Alexander Leif Hakonson
While there has been an increasing interest in the cultural and historical importance of 19th century survey photography, little attention has been paid to similar work conducted in Canada’s north. This paper examines the photography produced during the Geological Survey of Canada’s 1887 Yukon Expedition and its function as a tool of the Dominion government to exert control over the Yukon River Valley. By returning the photography to its functional roots and situating it within the larger documentary history of Canada’s westward expansion, this thesis argues that the images helped to do three things: prevent the abrogation of the 1825 treaty boundary between Alaska and Canada; collect visual evidence for the public record of the Yukon and Canada’s presence therein; and encourage settlement and development of the region by Canadian citizens.