Skip to main content
Glendon Campus Alumni Research Giving to York Media Careers International York U Lions Accessibility
Future Students Current Students Faculty and Staff
Faculties Libraries York U Organization Directory Site Index Campus Maps
Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections > Lou Wise Oblique Aerial Photograph Collection

Lou Wise Oblique Aerial Photograph Collection


The Lou Wise Oblique Airphoto Collection is a large collection of oblique airphotos held at the York University Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections. The photographs were taken in the 1980s and 1990s and cover conservation lands, wetlands, the Oak Ridges Moraine, and geographical areas that were considered to be “at risk” for redevelopment. Our collection consists of over 5000 airphotos covering a large swath of Southern Ontario.

Lou Wise is a pilot, who was a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II, a photographer for AvroCanada, a conservationist, and an avid photographer. He donated a part of his archives to York University’s Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections in 2009. Recently Lou Wise was highlighted in a Toronto Star article that can be accessed online.

Copyright of all original photographs in the Lou Wise Oblique Airphoto Collection is retained by Lou Wise. Individuals or organizations interested in reusing or reproducing these images must contact Lou Wise for permission. For further copyright information and contact information please email:

Viewing the Collection

You can view a full listing of Lou Wise’s archival material held at York University’s Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections here.

You can view and access the digitized collection via an interactive map, browse individual items held in York University’s Digital Library (YUDL), and as a KMZ layer in Google Earth.

Interactive Map of the Lou Wise Oblique Airphoto Collection

To date we have determined the locations of 5170 photos out of the over 6000 photographs in the collection. Each point (marker) represents the location of a photo in the collection.

Zoom into the part of Southern Ontario that is of interest, click on a marker, and you will be able to access information about the photo. You will also be able to access the full description of the photo and a low resolution version of the photo via York University’s Digital Library (YUDL).

Accessing the Collection via York University’s Digital Library

You can access the collection via York University’s Digital Library. You can search the collection by the photo number and the photo title. You can browse the collection by Conservation Authority (Region), Regional Municipality (County), and Municipality (City). Approximately 5100 photos have been geographically located. We have yet to determine the geographic location of approximately 800 photos, so at this time these photos only have a sparse description.

Viewing the Collection via Google Earth

If you are interested in viewing the Lou Wise Airphoto Collection in Google Earth, it is necessary to install the free Google Earth software onto your workstation. Once you have installed Google Earth onto your workstation, then download the LouWisePhotos_ASCYork.kmz file. Next, open GoogleEarth, and under “File”, go to “Open”, and browse to the location of the file LouWiseCollection_ASCYork.kmz and open it. Under “My Places” or “Temporary Places”, you will find the collection, and you can view in it by double clicking on the collection.

Geospatial data and KMZ files generated by York University Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

 Overview of the Digitization Project

This project was made possible through the cooperation of archivists, librarians and staff at the Scott Library’s Bibliographic Services, the Map Library and the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections who arranged and described and digitized each photographic slide, assisted by Wise’s original annotations.¬† The project also benefited from a Young Canada Works Grant in 2012, administered by the Canadian Council of Archives which allowed the university to hire a contract digitization assistant, Craig Butosi to identify and plot individual images. The project continued through 2012 and 2013 with several undergraduate student assistants who continued the meticulous work of identifying precise locations for historical photographs and attributing latitude and longitudinal information to the digital object.¬† Project team managers estimate that this project has taken over 2,500 hours to digitize, describe, geo-locate and generate useful metadata for about 6,000 images over five years.

Project team participants include:

Nick Benko, Craig Butosi, Marissa Chase, Hana Drdla, Ling He, Julia Holland, Rehan Khan, Andrea Kosavic, Prathna Lor, Michael Moir, Janet Neate, Rosa Orlandini, and Anna St.Onge.