An Alberta photographer is using tens of thousands of portraits to create a snapshot of Canada – one Canadian at a time.

Tim Van Horn has spent years driving coast to coast, photographing Canadians as part of his Canadian Mosaic photo project.

So far, he's taken portraits of 42,000 people, and he plans to take 12,000 more before 2017 – just in time for Canada's 150th anniversary.

Funded by public donations, Van Horn's mosaic project is an ode to the country's diversity. If all goes according to plan, the completed mosaic will feature 54,000 photos of individual Canadians, arranged in the shape of the national flag.

"It's all about bringing us together and celebrating our cultural identity and life itself," Van Horn told CTV Saskatoon.

The photographer originally launched the project in 2008, during the lead-up to the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

But after the Games wrapped up, Van Horn kept taking photos.

"All these years later, I've photographed 42,000 people from every province and territory in Canada," Van Horn said.

In total, he's made five trips back and forth across the country, accompanied by his faithful dog, Bo, who Van Horn describes on his website as "fun, but … smart, like a sack of hammer handles."

Together, the photographer and his canine companion have logged 300,000 kilometres by van and motorcycle, and captured it all on camera.

Van Horn's method is simple: he asks everybody who passes his camper if he can take their photo. That way, he says, he gets more honest images of average Canadians.

"I think secretly all of us want to be included in something, so this is an opportunity to feel part of something bigger," Van Horn said.

The photographer plans to display his completed mosaic on the side of a bus during Canada's 150th birthday festivities in 2017.

Then, he says, he'll drive the bus across the country so that people from all around Canada can be part of the celebration.

"It'll be something that the country can follow that birthday year," he said. "It's not just in Ottawa, or on a website. It's in your backyard. It's at your kid's school."

Van Horn is currently in Saskatoon, where he will be taking photos until Wednesday, before travelling west.

With files from CTV Saskatoon