Efforts to establish the South Saskatchewan Photo Museum began in 1987 through the work of Arcola's History Book Committee, which discovered that a number of photographers who had operated in the town had exceptionally good cameras, and that hundreds of outstanding photographic images had survived the passage of time. The museum was formally established under the leadership of Adrian Paton in 1993. Further development - enabled by a grant of the Saskatchewan History Society - occurred in 1995 with the successful completion of a research project on 12 pioneering photographers of the region.
Housed in Arcola's imposing Land Titles Building, the collection is an historical and cultural treasure, attesting to a spirit of determination shared by a trio of early professional photographers and by early settlers to the region alike. This important collection comprises over 500 large format photographic prints as well as numerous 8 x 10 inch glass negatives. These glass negatives are remarkable for their sharpness and clarity, as well as for their depiction of people, events, and scenes from a distant place and time.
The collection particularly documents the achievements of three professional studio photographers who operated successively in the South Saskatchewan region from the late 1800's to 1960, maintaining a series of studio facilities in Arcola, Saskatchewan. The first of these, Thomas Carlyle Yeoward recorded some of the earliest extant images of the region. His successor, Ernest Dahlquest, captured the boom period of the area from 1900-1904, when Arcola - being the terminus of the Grand National Railway - enjoyed a period of extraordinary prosperity and growth. D.M. Buchanan carried on from 1904 to 1960, during which time he captured hundreds of images, creating a fascinating visual record of a unique time, culture, and place.