An app is letting Lethbridge residents explore the history of our city. The On This Spot app showcases then and now photos of historic spots throughout the windy city. Pictures are shown from dates as early as the 1900s. The Co-Founder and CEO of the app, Andrew Farris, says the company works with cities to go out and map a series of photos and then reshoot them from the same angle.
The project started as a history blog for Farris when he used to backpack during university. “I found then and now photo essays were just the best way to engage people who aren’t really interested in history to get them excited about it,” says Farris.
After a trip to Normandy, Farris explored the beaches where so many young men fought during the second world war. “I was walking around with my phone and couldn’t find Wi-Fi. I didn’t have any books with me and I thought that we should just combine these fascinating eyewitness accounts and engaging history with the then and now photography to put it in an app form.”
That’s when Farris and his friend Christopher Reid partnered in 2016 to create the app.
The app covers a large number of communities in Alberta as well. “With a lot of these Alberta communities there are a lot of images of just the rolling ball prairie, which is where the city is now. You can chart the evolution of a city like Lethbridge from a couple of ranchers huts, into a local metropolis that it is today,” adds Farris.
Farris says there are still traces of early 20th century buildings all around Lethbridge, but it can be easy to forget some of the turmoil that happened in the past.
“We can find photos of workers marching for workers compensation relief during the Great Depression, and military parades during both world wars. When you put that in the context of these buildings you already know, it really kind of makes that history come alive and brings it closer to home.”
The app will be bringing in a new camera feature that was launched in 2016, but had to be redeveloped. “It’s something we’re hoping to get up and running again within the next six weeks. We’ve mapped out all these photo opportunities across Lethbridge. When you go to that spot on the map, you can look at a historic photo and compare it to one we have taken from the same perspective, and press a camera button. This will bring up a ghost of the historic photo over your own camera viewfinder. You can line it up with what you’re looking at and then take a picture,” says Farris.
People can then put them side by side to compare them and edit it together, which will allow for editing in of friends into historic photos. “We’re hoping this is a new kind of selfie people will be taking,” jokes Farris.
You can view the app on https://onthisspot.ca/