Immerse Yourself in Vancouver’s History With A Free Interactive Walking Tour

Imagine if a city could tell you its stories as you strolled through its neighborhoods. As you walk by a mural, you long dismissed on your daily commute, a voice chimes in. “This mural depicts J.W. Horne’s real estate office in a hollow log somewhere around Georgia and Granville St. in 1886. J.W. Horne was originally from Ontario but made his fortune following the westward expansion of the CPR. In 1886 he moved to Vancouver just as the CPR completed its western terminus at Granville.

The voice is that of Dr. Siobhán McPhee, a faculty member in UBC’s Geography department. As your expert guide, she turns the modern city into streets of the past and transports you back to a small Vancouver at the end of the 19th century.

Using technology developed by Vancouver startup, this UBC sponsored app allows students, residents and tourists alike to immerse themselves in the tour content through the use of GPS and audio AR. A map displays each new point as you progress through the experience. As you approach the northern stairs of the Vancouver Art Gallery entrance the voice triggers and your adventure begins.

The journey takes you through downtown, Chinatown, the Downtown Eastside and finally into Gastown. All the while, Dr. McPhee reveals the narrative of the Canadian Pacific Railway and its influential role in shaping the modern city. A fascinating historical tale for both visitors and Vancouverites.

Dr. McPhee originally created the app as a way to engage her first-year international geography students. She decided to make it available to the general public earlier this month.“The platform enabled me to develop a valuable experiential learning activity. My historical content comes alive for the users of the app, and the added piece for me is that my students are incorporating their smartphones into their learning – suddenly it doesn’t seem like ‘just another assignment’.

You can download the free app for iOS and Android using the links below!


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