CHEK Upside: Free app giving glimpse into Victoria’s past and present

WatchOn This Spot is giving Islanders the chance to compare modern and historical photos of Canadian cities.

A Vancouver-based walking tour app with a Victoria connection is giving Islanders the chance to explore history from their phones.

On This Spot was created back in 2016 by two University of Victoria alumni, and features hundreds of archival photos.

Victoria, Esquimalt, Nanaimo and Ucluelet are among the 20 Canadian cities featured on the app and accompanying website. On This Spot partners with local museums and archives to make history accessible to the masses.

“We’ve gone out and figured out where the photographers were standing when they took historic photos and mapped that out and then we shot it from the same angle,” says CEO Andrew Farris via Skype.

Andrew studied history at UVic, and is involved in the complicated process of searching through digitized photos to match up with modern-day locations. The Island connection runs deep for Farris, who wants to expand people’s knowledge of the historical significance of their surroundings in a fun and interactive way.

“That’s when the then-and-now photos come in. They’re a great way to grab people’s attention and get people who always thought that history was just a boring set of dates, names and treaties,” adds Farris.

On This Spot’s COO Sean Edmunds is also a former UVic student. While he might not be out in the field collecting images, Edmunds is still passionate about the history of Canada, and the significance of the app.

“It allows people to particularly at his time, given the lockdown and everything, a way to appreciate history and their local communities such as Victoria,” says Edmunds.

With COVID-19 halting travel around the world, the app is also allowing Canadians to track the evolution of their cities and towns from the comfort of their own homes.

“There’s many different opportunities to kind of like explore the history of this country,” says Farris.

To find out more about On This Spot, head to their website, or download the app on Apple or Android devices.


Cole SorensonCole Sorenson

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