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Help us locate and recapture scenes from archival photos
What makes a moment in time last in the public’s consciousness for decades, or even centuries? Why do some moments become historical, and others fade away, lost to time?
These are the types of questions Victoria photographer Taylor Roades was wondering during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic—you know, those uncertain, scary, spring months of 2020 when panic-buying, zoom calls and outdoor hangouts were just starting to become the “new normal.”
Roades lost more than three months’ worth of photography work in just two weeks, and like millions of others, she suddenly had an abundance of time.
“I was browsing online archives of the City of Victoria and looking at old photos. And it was so interesting to me—the fact that I felt like I was living through this historic moment in time,” she said. “But what really defines a historic moment in time, other than the fact that it's captured?”
So when she went out for her neighbourhood walks, Roades began to recreate the archival photos, posting them on her Instagram account, where she wrote that she was “playing with the line photography walks between history, and the immediate historical moment we are in.”
From a 1966 view of Fleming Beach to historical snapshots of the local Chinese Public School to the early days of the Johnson Street Bridge, Roades and her camera began the task of unearthing the “mundane in the monumental.”
A haunting, empty snapshot of a Vic West side street from 1959 comes to life in her 2020 version, but the same lampposts and manholes solidly remind the viewer that in truth, little time has passed since the first picture.
“I would go out at sunset when the light was good and try and replicate what I was seeing in the archives and sort of play on that line of history and the historic moment we were living in.”
To see more of her work, preorder A Ribbon of Highway, Roades’ first hardcover photo book exploring Canada and Canadian identity, out this April.
Inspired by Roades and the many Victoria residents with a passion for local history, Capital Daily is asking you to take part in a similar project—with a twist.
Armed with a folder of archival photos, Capital Daily will share a new historical image each week—your job is to go out, try to find the same spot, and send us a 2023 version of the historical picture. Along with the picture we’ll give you a cryptic map with the region the photo came from, just to get you heading to the right place.
We’re calling it History Mystery, and this week’s winner (the closest matching photo according to our judges) will win a $75 gift card to Hide + Seek Coffee, plus have their picture featured in the newsletter. There’s more swag to come, but let’s be honest, the real fun here is in the hunt for the perfect shot.
For those with camera equipment, Roades recommends using a 35 mm lens to mimic the style of the old film pictures. For those using their cell phones, she recommends getting closer to the shot, since most phone cameras have a wider lens.
“My advice would be to get closer to replicate the same composition,” she said.
Send your photos to us by noon on Friday, Jan. 27 at email@example.com with your name, the contest number (for example History Mystery #1), the address where you shot it, and any other details you want to share! Each Saturday we’ll share the winner and provide your next clue.
This week, the clue is below, but moving forward, we'll share it directly in the newsletter.