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Scenes from a Gravel Road

The Beginning of a gravel road


A gravel road, common to those who depend on them, foreign to many. The gravel road came to be because of vision, leadership and a soon to be developed bread basket from members of the federal government, the voice of a newly developed country in 1867. The Dominion Land Survey (DLS) was the method used to divide most of Western Canada into one-square sections, developing a grid for mostly agricultural purposes as well as other important future infrastructure. The DLS, the world’s largest survey grid laid down in an integrated system, began in 1871 following the purchase of Rupert’s Land from the Hudson Bay Company. This survey system is deeply ingrained in the rural culture of the prairies. The plan was for Manitoba and later Saskatchewan and Alberta to become agricultural economies for this new country called Canada. Several places are excluded from the survey system: these include federal lands such as First Nation reserves, federal parks, and air weapon ranges. The DLS is the dominant survey method in the Prairie Provinces and parts of BC. The Canadian government hurried to subdivide Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to affirm Canadian sovereignty over these lands. The United States was undergoing rapid expansion in the 1860s, and the Canadian government was afraid that the Americans would expand into Canadian territory. Canada's introduction of a railway and surveying was a means to discourage American encroachment. The beginning of the Dominion Land Survey marked a new era for western Canada. Railways were making their way to the West and the population of western regions began to increase. The introduction of the survey system was a stimulus for the Red River Rebellion and made possible the books by Pierre Burton about the Canadian West.

The anatomy of a country road


The Dominion Land Survey was enormous. Around 178,000,000 acres (720,000 km2) are estimated to have been subdivided into quarter sections, 27 million of which were surveyed by 1883 (14 years after the system's inception). The survey was made by developing Meridians, Baselines, Townships, Sections and Quarter-Sections. Between certain sections of a township run "road allowances" (but not all road allowances have an actual road built on them). The road allowances add to the size of the township (they do not cut down the size of the sections): this is the reason base lines are not exactly 24 miles (39 km) apart. This results in a north–south road allowance every mile going west, and an east–west road allowance every two miles going north. This arrangement reduced land allocation for roads, but still provides road-access to every quarter-section. Road allowances are one of the differences between the Canadian DLS and the American Public Land Survey System, which leaves no extra space for roads. The main east–west lines are the baselines. The First Baseline is at 49° north, which forms much of the Canada–United States border in the West. Each subsequent baseline is about 24 miles (39 km) to the north of the previous one,[10] terminating at 60° north, which forms the boundary with Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.


The world's largest integrated grid system

Street Photography – western style


Many photographers travel the gravel road looking for images of aurora and night skies, images from our past – old barns and houses, old elevators – and images of our future. Many people in large urban centres have never seen a country road. A county map is essential as the app on your phone to find and travel around around a gravel road. It is a form of street photography that many people do not notice.


A rural playground

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Past lives remembered

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A gravel road - the photographer's delight

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The past still present

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A hundred year old farm still going strong

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Farmer's today practice no-till Where yjey don't soil blows.

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A full moon from a country road

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Gravel reveals the species we share this earth with

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