In this past and present photo, an interesting seaplane docks near the fishing boats at the Government Wharf as a curious crowd looks on. The Royal Canadian Air Force set up a seaplane base in Ucluelet during the Second World War. (Ucluelet and Area Historical Society & On This Spot Enterprises photo)

Stroll through Ucluelet’s history with the free ‘On This Spot’ app

Educational exercise is split into two unique tours and delivered with stunning 'now and then' photos

Ucluelet’s rich heritage is at your fingertips with the creation of a new digital historic walking tour anyone with a smartphone can download the free.

Developed by On This Spot app in partnership with the Ucluelet and Area Historical Society (UAHS) and Tourism Ucluelet, the educational exercise is split into two unique tours and is delivered with stunning historical photos superimposed over present day images.

The first tour, ‘People of Safe Harbour’, begins in the 1930s on Waterfront Drive and Bay Street with the first European pioneers. The second tour, ‘Ucluelet’s Seaplane Base’, showcases Ucluelet’s fascinating ties to the Second World War.

On This Spot app founder and CEO Andrew Farris told the Westerly News an exploration of the UAHS photo archives led to about 80 photos they would use as building blocks to compose the narrative thread of the walking tours.

Farris thinks now is one of the best times to engage with this kind of self-directed, educational material.

“With all the school lockdowns that are happening a major effect of what’s happening is the children are going stir crazy locked in their homes. What we want to do is provide teachers and students accessible, easy to understand, and engaging local content so they can appreciate the history that’s around them and learn a bunch in the process,” said Farris.

UAHS member Barb Gudbranson helped the project take shape.

“We had three different stations during the war: Seaplane, Spring Cove, and Long Beach,” said Gudbranson, adding that her grandfather was stationed at Spring Cove after relocating from Saskatchewan.

“Walk around and get to know your town,” she encourages.

Tourism Ucluelet’s executive director Denise Stys-Norman said she hopes the virtual experience gives Ucluetians a flavour of the history of the place they call home.

“Do it at your leisure,” she says. “It’s meant for everyone to use. I saw [the app] in Nanaimo and it intrigued me because we have such a rich history here.”

Ucluelet is a fascinating and beautiful place, notes Farris.

“There is a lot of depth to it. The Seaplane Base that existed during the Second World War has a very interesting history. It played an important role of defense of Canada from potential Japanese attacks. A lot of old-timers who are still alive today remember dramatic events, so seaplane crashes and stuff like that, occurring in Ucluelet,” he said.

Farris, who is based out of Vancouver, said he was blogging then and now photos as he went backpacking through Europe and Asia when the idea came about for On This Spot app. The app now features walking tours in about 20 Canadian cities.

“We want to allow local heritage societies to connect with their followers and people that who are interested in local history,” Farris said.


nora.omalley@westerlynews.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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