The Boundary Hunters: Surveying the 141st Meridian and the Alaska Panhandle

By Lewis Green | Go to book overview

Preliminary Note

On the accompanying sketch maps an attempt has been made to show many of the topographic names referred to in the text despite limitations imposed by page size. Names used are those in present day use. The reader wishing a better idea of the terrain involved should examine larger scale topographic maps of the region. Best are the modern 1:250,000 maps (about one inch to four miles) with their contour interval of five hundred feet or less. Some idea of the magnitude of the boundary surveys may be drawn from the fact that thirty-one such maps are needed to form a mosaic covering the Alaska boundary from the tip of the Panhandle to the Arctic Ocean, a north-south distance of roughly 1,040 miles.

When the boundary surveys were underway, the Canadian surveyors were commonly referred to as "British" and the commissioner as "His Britannic Majesty's Commissioner." In accord with current usage, they are referred to as "Canadian" in the text. This seems more straightforward since their work was both organized and paid for directly by the Canadian government. On technical matters, the United States commissioner dealt directly with his Canadian counterpart. In contrast, diplomatic negotiations between Canada and the United States were handled through the government of Great Britain.

The Alaska boundary surveys were done using metric units, but the final reports on both the 141st meridian and the Panhandle sections give horizontal distances in metres and vertical elevations in feet above sea level. The use of metric units was confined to the technical aspects of the work. In descriptions of field travel, such as from a camp to a survey station, distances are invariably given in miles. The final maps of both sections are a compromise, printed on a scale more appropriate to the metric system but with a contour interval expressed in feet.

-xiii-

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