Lacombe’s residents can now experience what the city looked like hundreds of years ago all from their phone. The new app uses modern-day photos combined with archival footage and documents to tell the history of Canadian locations.
Users can scroll through photos to view then and now comparisons for many of the city’s historic buildings.
The launch in Lacombe was a year in the making and was a partnership between On This Spot, Lacombe Regional Tourism and the Lacombe and District Historical Society. It first began when Melissa Blunden, executive director of the Lacombe and District Historical Society, approached On This Spot at a trade show.
However, the project wasn’t able to take off until the Lacombe Regional Tourism secured a grant from Alberta Tourism to fund the project.
Andrew Farris, On This Spot co-founder and CEO, was then able to visit the area to take photos and conduct preliminary research. He worked with Blunden to collect information from the district archives.
“They had full access too, to go into our archival photos with us, and we picked what we thought were some really good starting photos,” said Blunden.
While the Lacombe Museum offers tours of the downtown core in the summer months, this app will highlight different areas in the city.
“Lacombe’s uniquely very well suited for this kind of photography because there are just so many historic buildings that survived,” said Farris.
The app soft-launched on Oct. 15 with around 50 photos and descriptions. The plan is to add walking tours of Lacombe and photos of Blackfalds, Alix, Clive, Eckville and Bentley by spring 2021.
“This gives people the ability to check it out, get excited about it and know that there’s more coming,” said Farris.
Alberta has become a popular location for On This Spot and when the app launched in Strathmore it was well-received by the community.
According to Farris, in Strathmore some schools have implemented the app into history lessons. Blunden said Lacombe-area schools are more than welcome to do the same.
The app is available to download from the app store and is compatible with both Apple and Android devices.
Farris is excited for residents to begin using the app and is looking forward to adding more to the software in the next year.
“We’re hoping to be a partner in the community for a long time to come and to keep expanding what we offer,” said Farris.