About Adrian K. Paton

I have been asked many times why I have such a keen interest in collecting historical pictures and artifacts. The simple answer is that I enjoy doing it and it is an interest that I have held since childhood. I was born in 1934 in the midst of the great depression, a decade that shaped many lives. Money was almost non-existent and there were few books in our home. We did own an older school book about the history of the Greek and Roman empires which I enjoyed and I would often have my dad or mother read it to me.

There was a box of pictures and negatives in our home and when I was ten years old, Santa brought me a picture album. On our weekly Saturday night shopping trip to town, I generally took a few negatives or pictures to the local photographer to have copied or developed. It seems I had a passion for pictures even then as I would spend my meager allowance on pictures rather than go to the movies.

In 1987, my Grandmother died in her one hundred and fifth year, leaving my father custodian of her collection of pictures. He asked my advice as to what to do with them so, with the help of my parents, I sorted them and added names, dates and other information. I returned the majority of the photos to the families from which they had originated and the remainder I kept in my collection.

In that same year, I was appointed chairman of the Arcola history book committee and I began researching the work of Arcola’s three earliest photographers: T. Yeward (prior to 1900), E. Dahlquest (1900 to 1904) and D. M. Buchanan (1904 to approximately 1939). In 1993, I established the South Saskatchewan Photo Museum which holds my entire collection of photographs.

I have always been interested in First Nations people and when I was working on the history book, I became aware that there were quite a number of historic pictures of Indigenous people in the area. I made a special effort to obtain copies of these photographs. As my interest in this area broadened I was also fortunate to discover several collections of photographs of First Nations people. I attempted to obtain as much information and details about these photographs as possible by interviewing other historians and First Nations people. I decided to create this book as I felt that it was important to share these photos, along with their associated history and folklore. The pictures in this book are mainly from the Moose Mountains and the surrounding region, an area that is now called southeast Saskatchewan.

Over the years I have received photos and negatives from over 400 people so I cannot begin to thank them individually but I am very grateful to all those that have donated to my collection. I would like to thank the many Indigenous people to whom I have been privileged to speak with over the years and who have shared their stories and wisdom. I am grateful to elders Armand McArthur and Peter Bigstone for sharing their knowledge of First Nations traditions with me. Thanks to Chief Connie Big Eagle for weaving connections from the photos to the history of her people and to Misti Big Eagle for her encouragement and support.

There are now four websites that offer access to my photographs; three of these are managed through the Canadian Heritage Information Network under the titles of “Pioneering Photography”, “A Century of Education” and “The Architectural History of Arcola and the Moose Mountains.” More recently, I have worked with the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and the University of Saskatchewan who have digitalized a portion of my photographic collection and created a travelling photograph exhibit. 

Adrian Paton beside the plaque he and his family erected on Hawk Hill, located southwest of the farmyard where he lived for most of his life.

Adrian Paton beside the plaque he and his family erected on Hawk Hill, located southwest of the farmyard where he lived for most of his life.