Alberta: A History in Photographs


111 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55153-901-2
DDC 971.23'02'0222





Reviewed by Michael Payne

Michael Payne is head of the research and publications program, Historic
Sites and Archives Service, Alberta Community Development, and the
co-author of A Narrative History of Fort Dunvegan.


The use of archival photographs as a means of conveying historical
information has probably never been more popular. Archival photographs
are an important part of our public record. But they have limitations as
historical documents. Contrary to popular opinion, pictures can lie and
can create misleading impressions. For example, what do posed,
professional photographs of cowboys or homesteaders really tell us about
ranch or farm life? A picture may be worth a thousand words, but most
can profitably use text and context.

That said, the photographs selected for inclusion in this book have
considerable interest. Some are relatively well known and have been used
in other publications or museum exhibits, but many will be new to
readers. They are well reproduced and give the book an attractive look.
The text serves only to describe the photographs and link them to an
episodic narrative of Alberta history. Overall, the book reveals a very
photogenic province with a lively history and people.


Holt, Faye R., “Alberta: A History in Photographs,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,