A view across Victoria’s harbour is split by more than 100 years on the OnThisSpot app. The app gives users the historical knowledge and imagery they need to be transported back in time. (Victoria Archives AC1-M06964 & On This Spot Enterprises)

History app uses ‘then and now’ photographs of Victoria

OnThisSpot provides historical insight of Canadian cities

A Vancouver-based app provides on scene insight into the history of Canadian cities, including Victoria.

OnThisSpot takes users on guided walking tours, using ‘then and now’ photography and historical information on various street corners, monuments or landmarks. Working with heritage and tourism organizations, the app gives users an on-site glimpse at an otherwise unseen history.

Co-founder and CEO Andrew Farris, who graduated from the University of Victoria’s history program, says he started the idea with a blog while travelling through Asia and Europe. The blog was so popular he brought the concept back to Canada. Now, the OnThisSpot website and app features history and walking tours in more than 20 Canadian cities.

“When you’re looking at photographs of a historical event, seeing the people, seeing the buildings that are gone, you can see how society has evolved over time, what the trends are and how things like fashion and architecture have changed,” Farris said.

READ ALSO: Parents advocate for change of George Jay Elementary name, citing racist history

The app’s website features cross-faded images combining Victoria’s past and present – in one photo, a modern-day SUV drives off a street that fades into a sepia photograph of a horse and buggy-filled roadway, bustling with Victorians of more than a century ago.

In another image, shot down Johnson Street from Douglas, the corner’s Burger King fades into the black and white ramshackle structures of old Victoria.

The app’s Victoria walking tour, The Peopling of Victoria, tells the story of the city before and after the establishment of the Fort Victoria trading post, taking users along a journey that starts with the camas meadows of the Lekwungen people to the arrival of English settlers, the impacts of the BC Gold Rush, the establishment of Chinatown and more.

“It’s really easy to feel separated from history … a lot of people have the assumption there’s very little history in Canada,” Farris said.

“But these photographs can transport you back in time to see that everywhere has a history. That the people of the past had lives, fear, concerns and dreams just like we do.”

Outside of B.C., the app has partnered with cities in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

The app is free and can be downloaded on any smartphone.

READ ALSO: Black History Month: Documentary sheds light on black pioneers’ role in Victoria


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

City of VictoriahistoryTechnology

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Langford racing enthusiast back in driver’s seat of life after surviving aggressive cancer

70-year-old David Smith finishes mid-pack in Canada 200 race at Western Speedway

New nurse practitioner-led medical clinic welcomes Victoria patients

Health Care on Yates expects to serve 6,800 new patients over the next three years

Central Saanich needs at least more than 500 additional daycare spaces

Report before Central Saanich says region faces a ‘chronic shortage’ of daycare spaces

MISSING: West Shore RCMP searching for 15-year-old last seen Sept. 13

Mackenzie Courchene still missing despite several tips, possible sightings, police say

Sooke RCMP searching for two people, reported missing on Sept. 10

Alannah Brooke Logan, 20, and Beau Richard Santuccione, 32, last seen on Otter Point Road

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

POLL: Do you plan on allowing your children to go trick or treating this year?

This popular annual social time will look quite different this year due to COVID-19

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Comox Valley protesters send message over old-growth logging

Event in downtown Courtenay was part of wider event on Friday

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read