News / Edmonton

Interactive history app could come to Edmonton soon

Vancouver developers eyeing Edmonton as a potential expansion.

The app allows people to see then and now photos of historical landmarks.

Metro File

The app allows people to see then and now photos of historical landmarks.

A new app that offers interactive historical tours could be coming to Edmonton.

Vancouver developers Andrew Farris and Chris Reid developed On This Spot in their home city last month, and they're already getting interest from Alberta.

“A number of people have e-mailed asking when the app is coming to Edmonton, so we think we’ll be able to get out there very quickly. We were really taken aback by the level of interest,” said Farris, who briefly lived in Edmonton.

“It’s one of these technologies that seems it ought to exist.”

The app includes then-and-now photos of historical landmarks with detailed explanations of their history, along with a map to seek out the spots.

Reid does the programming while Farris does exhaustive research, spending hours in libraries to find spots of historical significance, tracking down archived photos, and finally photographing the sites himself and working with Reid to develop a precise map.

Farris is a history buff who runs a blog, and he said the app is a new way to impart his passion on others.

“It’s an enormous amount of content, but we’re trying to design it so it doesn’t overwhelm people and we can kind of lure people into learning more about history,” he said.

Farris said the enormous popularity of Pokemon Go shows the public has an appetite for this type of program, even if his is a less about fantasy and more about academia.

Farris was contacted by eHub at the University of Alberta, as well as the Alberta Labour History Institute and the Edmonton Heritage council, within days of launching the app.

He says he’s ready to start here as soon as he can secure a sponsor for funding.

“We would like to blanket cover the city. One of our main goals is not just depth, but also breadth of coverage,” he said. "So we want to do at least 500 photo opportunities for Edmonton, so that people everywhere in Edmonton will be able to open up their phone and take a photograph that was taken there in the past.”

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