Toronto in Time app looks back 200 years

Oct 25, 2012 | Biz/Tech

By: Matthew Smith

History buffs and tourism promoters have joined forces to place the story of Toronto in the palm of your hands – literally.

Launched on Wednesday, Toronto in Time is a free Apple iOS and Android application containing an interactive collection of more than 160 historical stories, sites, anecdotes and photos going back over 200 years.

“The idea is to just really open the door on history and say look, these buildings are all around you, here’s a direct example of how yesterday and today intersect,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, president of the Historica Dominion Institute, who co-produced the Toronto-version of the app with the City of Toronto and the privately-supported charity, Heritage Toronto.

Designed by Vancouver-based 7th Floor Media, the app was launched on the West Coast a year ago.

“The events of yesterday affect the way our city looks- with the buildings that we have, the way we feel about things – sometimes more than a 100 years later,” Wilson-Smith said.

“We don’t pretend to tell you the whole history of the building or an area, it can be just one thing that really jumps out,” he said.

Wilson-Smith said the application boundaries for Toronto in Time are loosely divided into seven different areas of the city.

“There’s Downtown, West End, Mid-Town, Toronto Islands, Scarborough, North York and the East End,” said Wilson-Smith. “It’s really more focused on the traditional city of Toronto since you won’t find anything on Markham or Richmond Hill.”

How does it work?

A first-time user of the app can click on Etobicoke, found in the city menu area, and discover pictures and text of the destruction wrought by Hurricane Hazel as it lashed the area in 1954.

Craig Heron, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, told Humber news that bringing the past to life will influence more people to engage with the city.

“One of the problems is to get people to know what’s out there, so if this is easily accessible then that’s great,” said Heron.

According to other Canadian cities like Ottawa are being considered for the Cities in Time series but expanding the existing apps is the next step.

COURTESY VIDEO – Historica Dominion Institute