Modern geologists take for granted the availability of accurate base maps and topographic datasets upon which they can do geological mapping, but this was not the case in Canada in its early years. Indeed, in the 1840s, the Geological Survey of Canada’s founder William Logan was lamenting that he had to make topographic maps at the same time as his geological mapping. By the 1870s, government topographic surveyors had taken this task off the hands of the geologist, but they had a lot of catching up to do.
In remote parts of the country, such as the Yukon, it was commonplace as late as the 1930s for Survey geologists to complete their geological mapping surveys concurrently with the topographic surveyors. The Yukon field notes from this time of Survey geologist Hugh Bostock commonly contained topographic data and newly sketched contour lines.
Today, rock cairns dot the Yukon landscape as a lasting testament to the labours of the topographic surveyors and the geologists. These striking structures mark the topographic high points of western Yukon and were built by the surveyors.