Waterloo Region’s landmarks get the Dear Photograph treatment

Mining memories of the tri-cities through photos

Posted: May 27, 2013 9:56 AM ET

Last Updated: May 27, 2013 9:56 AM ET

According to the University of Waterloo, the T. Eaton Co. bought the corner lot in 1929 but didn’t build a department store until 1950.Trolley buses replaced streetcars in Kitchener and Waterloo and started travelling on King Street between the two cities on January 1, 1947. They continued until March 26, 1973, when they were replaced with non-electrified buses.
(Credits: Historical photo: University of Waterloo Library, Charles Belair Collection. New photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

Queen Elizabeth II made two trips to Canada in 1973. Her first trip was from June 25 to July 5. Accompanied by her husband Prince Philip, she visited Ontario, P.E.I., Saskatchewan and Alberta. Behind the Queen is the Krug Furniture factory. The company was started in 1880 by cabinetmaker Hartman Krug, and makes furniture to this day. (Read more about the Queen’s visits)
(Credits: Historical photo: University of Waterloo Library, Kitchener-Waterloo Record Negative Collection. New photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

It’s unclear exactly when this photo of Goudie’s department store was taken. But the building’s current resident, TheMuseum, says t was most likely taken during the 1960s. A.R. Goudie built his store in 1925 and expanded it in 1934. Downtown Kitchener was at its peak between the 1950s and 1970s, but with the close of many manufacturing plants in the area it declined. Goudie’s was turned in to the Children’s Museum, which is now TheMuseum.
(Photographer unknown, photo Courtesy David Marskell/THEMUSEUM)

King Street in Waterloo, looking north. This shot was taken sometime between 1911-1926. The very first streetcar traveled between Waterloo and Kitchener (then called Berlin) on June 13, 1889. Streetcar service continued in Kitchener-Waterloo until 1946 when a storm on December 27 damaged overhead streetcar wires. Instead of repairing the wires, streetcar service was discontinued in light of the impending debut of new trolleybuses on Jan 1.
(Credits: Historical photo: A-3-9 Waterloo Public Library, new photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News.)

Erb and King Street , Waterloo. This photo is only dated to sometime in the 1940s and shows soldiers travelling in the back of a truck down King Street, south of Erb Street. In the background are the Waterloo Hotel and the Ontario Seed Company. King Street has been widened since this shot was taken, so the match isn’t quite perfect.
(Credits: Historical photo: C-4-5; P195; Negative No. 032 - Waterloo Public Library. New photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

Rev. Harvey Southcott (now the Venerable Harvey Southcott), one of the founders of Renison University College stands in front of the Founders’ Building. This photo was taken during the construction of the building in 1962. The college was founded in 1959 and named after Rev. Robert John Renison, and partnered with the University of Waterloo in 1962. Southcott is now the last living founder of the college and paid a visit to the campus in April, where he recreated his iconic shot.
(Credits: Older photo: Renison University College, new photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

One of the stops on The Queen’s visit in 1973 in Cambridge at Riverside Park. In this image, children are waiting for the Queen at the entrance to the park.
(Credits: Historical photo: KWR73-1484B_19K_02 Waiting for the Queen, Riverside Park, Cambridge. University of Waterloo Library. K-W Record Negative Collection. New photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

In this shot, the Queen’s cavalcade is leaving Cambridge and heading towards the Preston Springs Hotel. Currently, the historic hotel, which is over 120 years old, sits vacant. It was purchased by developer Paul De Haas, with his company Haastown in Toronto, in December 2012. At one point, the hotel was called the Del Monte hotel. It sits on the site of a natural sulphur spring.
(Historical photo: KWR73-1484-16 The Queen’s cavalcade leaves Cambridge, University of Waterloo Library. K-W Record Negative Collection. New photo: Andrea Bellemare/CBC News)

The photos might come with dates stamped in the corner, or are faded from the sun.

Time capsules from a bygone era, they take on new resonance when juxtaposed against a present-day backdrop.

That’s the concept behind Dear Photograph, the brainchild of Waterloo, Ont. resident Taylor Jones. It’s a hugely popular website whose tagline reads “take a picture of a picture, from the past, in the present.”

Dear Photograph, which celebrated its second birthday on May 26, has been featured in international media, named one of Time’s best websites of 2011, and spawned a hardcover book.

CBC reached out to Taylor Jones to give the Dear Photograph treatment to landmarks in Cambridge, Kitchener and Waterloo. We spoke to him about Dear Photograph, and his latest venture Dandy, a crowdsourced app-development startup that he runs with Matt Scobel and Karl Allen-Muncey.

CBC: Did you think you would make it to two years when you started?

Jones: The way the Internet works I had no idea what was going to happen. Like, when it hit the first year it was pretty big. I’m not going to know really what happens every year, because websites they are hit-and-miss based on how long they last for. So I’ve just been very lucky to be able to keep it going for two years.

CBC: Why do you think Dear Photograph resonates with so many people?

I think it’s because everybody has that nostalgic feeling, whether or not they grew up 20 years ago … people always look back and look at their past. I think this is a way to kind of go in that dimension and do it in a totally different way, and people are very intrigued by it.

CBC: How many images do you get in an average day?

Jones: I probably get around five. Some days I get more, some days I get less. In summer 2011, I guess I was probably getting between 30 and 50 a day when it was very, very busy, but now it’s been very consistent with around five or so.

CBC: Do you have any tips for people if they want to submit photos to you?

I just look for a good compelling story. Like anything, good content is always a plus. It’s mostly something with a good story that’s well lined up, and the caption is compelling and everything. That’s usually what I look for, and if I like it, then I’ll usually post it.

CBC: How long do you think you’ll keep Dear Photograph going for, or any next steps you have in mind?

Jones: I really have no idea. At some point I’ve got to take it to the next level and do something with it, because for the past two years I’ve been posting just one photo a day.

So I’m looking forward to making it into something, starting something else that has to do with it, just to bring it to that next level. So we’ll see over the next little while what happens with it.

CBC: Dear Photograph isn’t the only thing that you’re doing, tell us about Dandy.

Jones: Dandy is a crowdsourced app development and validation engine. We just finished our three months in Hyper Drive [a local program to help tech start-ups] and we’re working on closing up some funding, and we’re going to stay in Kitchener.

So what we really do is we allow anybody to submit an app idea to Dandy. What happens from there, the best ones get voted up from the community. And we’ve teamed up with some third-party app developers. And we’re going to choose the top apps we think most people will actually buy, based on how the community votes on it, how they’re commenting on it and everything and then we go ahead and make them.

There’s a percentage [of the profits] that gets shared back to the person who came up with the idea - and also people who helped with different features or who helped design the app or description.

CBC: Have you had a lot of apps submitted so far?

Jones: We’ve had around 200 apps, and we’ve been around for about four months now. So it’s really good. We’re just about to open our public beta, we’ve had a closed beta, and we’ve had some great numbers we’ve had some really cool apps that have been submitted.

This interview has been edited and condensed.