Pinning down history: Oak Bay characters and places spotlighted

New online resource provides a window to Oak Bay’s past

A screenshot from the website historypin.com shows a 1930s-era photo looking west from King George Terrace.

Imagine being able to travel through time without ever leaving home. That’s the thinking behind a new website which combines a region’s history and geography.

The site, historypin.com, has piqued the interest of Oak Bay Heritage Commission members.

The site allows users to “pin” historic images to a map, allowing visitors to take a virtual tour of the past of a particular location.

And thanks to the site’s use of Google street view, viewers can take it a step further and look at photos superimposed over a current view of the same location, creating a before-and-after effect.

The Heritage Commission sees the site as an opportunity to share some of Oak Bay’s history with a wider audience.

With this being Heritage Week in B.C., it seemed like the perfect time to get on board, said the commission member spearheading the initiative.

“Part of our mandate is to educate the public and to share our heritage resources and make them more well-known to the general public,” said Ben Clinton-Baker.

“What we’re hoping to do with this is put a positive spin on Oak Bay heritage and the work of the commission in general.”

Using archival photos, Clinton-Baker is creating the municipality’s first virtual tour on the site.

The tour will focus on notable historical figures in the area and incorporates architecture and landscape photographs, as well as portraits, which are pinned to the map at or near where the subjects lived.

People who will be featured on the tour include early landowners John Tod and William Henry McNeill, former B.C. lieutenant governors Edgar Dewdney and Thomas Paterson. It even features the infamous Jimmy Chicken, an aboriginal man who lived on an island many locals still refer to by his name – it’s officially known as Mary Tod Island.

It was important to include a broad range of personalities, Clinton-Baker said.

“Eventually we will have more and more. We’ll build on this theme and have as many as possible, but to start off with, we’re hoping to get good variety.”

There’s also a feature which allows visitors to add information or anecdotes about the people and places highlighted on the tour. Users can create individual accounts on the site and post their own photos outside of the tour, or even create their own tours if they’re so inclined.

Clinton-Baker hopes this initial foray will eventually spawn further tours.

“We could develop a tour of historic homes, for example, where people contribute pictures of their home,” he said. “We might have images of that home or people who lived there, or of the neighbourhood, which could tie into our heritage conservation (efforts).”

Historypin is still working on its  search function — it’s expected to be ready in the next month or so. The best way to take the tour is to visit www.historypin.com/profile/view/oak bay archives (with spaces). There, visitors can see all the photos that have been uploaded for Oak Bay so far, and view the complete tour once it has been posted.

reporter@vicnews.com

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

Just Posted

Avoid giving dogs ice cubes, says Greater Victoria vet

Tips for keeping dogs cool and safe this summer

GVPL staggers reopening of three more branches in Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria

More Greater Victoria Library branches to reopen in August

Hungry Hearts Gala goes virtual with new mac and cheese competition

Results will be announced on Facebook live stream event

Gaps in the system: Youth cope with homelessness in Greater Victoria

Four-part series will look at youth homelessness in the region

Rolling the dice on the patina of old copper

At the Galleries: Summer days continue

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Fitness non-profit challenges citizens to invent a game to be physically active

The campaign was launched after a study showed only 4.8 per cent of children and youths in Canada met required standards of the 24-hour movement guidelines

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Vancouver Island team takes on wacky challenges of world’s largest scavenger hunt

Greatest International Scavenger Hunt taking place Aug. 1-8

Most Read