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App set to bring Strathmore’s history to the present

Josh Chalmers is the Strathmore Standard's Editor and sports reporter. Contact him with any and all concerns or information at 403-934-3021 ext. 303.

By Josh Chalmers, Airdrie Echo/Hanna Herald/Strathmore Standard

Strathmore’s past and present are about to meet like never before thanks to an ambitious historical project.

The Western District Historical Society (WDHS) has partnered with On This Spot, an app that uses then and now photos as part of a walking tour to convey the history of a given location.

““It allows you to effectively super impose the past on the present,” said Andrew Farris, Founder and CEO of On This Spot. “Our aim is to use the photos as way to get people into history.”

Already up and running in Vancouver, On This Spot has plans to move to other markets across Canada with Strathmore set to serve as a showcase as both the first market in Alberta and the first town of its size to be featured.

“We would like to use Strathmore as a way to encourage other cities to take part, it’s somewhere to build a flagship,” said Farris.

Town councillor, and board member of the WDHS, Denise Peterson stumbled across the app while in Vancouver over the summer.

“I downloaded the app and spent the next two hours wandering downtown Vancouver, seeing the then and now pictures,” she said. “I met other people who were using it and had wonderful conversations with people who lived there. I couldn’t help but think how that would transfer to a smaller community.”

Peterson said that she sees the app as a way to get Strathmorites involved in the history of their community as well as something for visitors.

“We have great hopes that in doing something like this our community will have a deeper appreciation for its own history, and a greater desire to preserve history,” she said.

WDHS member Rhonda Stockwell sees On This Spot as a major jumping off point for the society.

“If we don’t get on (preserving history) with something, will the next generation?” said Stockwell.

While On This Spot can stand on its own, the WDHS has plans to enhance it by offering guided versions of the walking tours with local historians.

The project itself is already underway with the Vancouver based Farris in town for the next couple of weeks meeting with local historical experts and pouring over photos and books.

“The town has brought out five boxes of archival records, there’s some pretty fascinating material there,” he said.

When it’s done there will be several walking tours throughout Strathmore that will each focus on one theme in Strathmore’s history. For example, the Vancouver walking tours include themes like Triumph of the Automobile and The Great Fire of Vancouver. Farris already has some ideas of where the themes might go in Strathmore but won’t set anything in stone until he’s completed his research.

“It’s hard to say for certain exactly what we’ll be focusing on, we’ll have to see what themes can we tease out,” he said. “There’s no shortage of history here.”

The On This Spot app is available on Google Play for Android and the Apple App Store.

The WDHS is looking for any unique historical photos that residents may have for the project and also have copies of the 1986 book Strathmore- The Village That Moved available for $40. Contact them at wdhsociety@gmail.com.