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

View Royal mayor victimized in CERB identity theft scam

David Screech shocked to find his CRA account was accessed, his banking information changed

Greater Victoria real estate sales numbers tell two stories for July

Real estate board president Sandi-Jo Ayers talks about pent-up spring demand, low inventory

Driver loses control, crashes into Saanich furniture store

Crash at Lazyboy Furniture store Wednesday afternoon

B.C. Appeal Court prevents Victoria woman from using the term ‘death midwife’ in her job

Pashta MaryMoon claimed she had been providing “death-care services” for more than 40 years

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 4

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should it be mandatory to wear masks when out in public?

B.C. is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of cases of… Continue reading

B.C. doctors, dentists call on province for mandatory mask rule

Open letter says masks should be worn in indoor public spaces, public transportation or in crowds

Dwindling B.C. bamboo supply leaves Calgary Zoo biologists worried about pandas

Zoo has been trying to send pandas back to China since May

Facebook launches its new TikTok clone, Instagram Reels

Facebook has a long tradition of cloning competitive services

‘We all have anxieties’: B.C.’s top doctor addresses return-to-school fears amid COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry promises school restart plan safe for B.C. kids

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

B.C. fish harvesters receive long-awaited details on pandemic benefits

Applications to the $470-million federal assistance programs will open Aug. 24

Most Read