British Columbia·Video

B.C. government releases 1966 dash cam footage of Highway 17

B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation has dug up historical dashcam footage of a drive from Victoria to Swartz Bay in 1966.

A lot has changed in 53 years

Differences on the road are clear in this side-by-side comparison of dashcam video of Highway 17 in 1966 and Highway 17 in 2019. (Michael Mcarthur/CBC)

B.C.'s Ministry of Transportation has dug up historical dashcam footage of a drive from Victoria to Swartz Bay in 1966.

Ministry information officer Kristen Reimer and her team stumbled across the footage while working on a different initiative for the government. They discovered 21 film reels recording roads across British Columbia dating back to the 1960s.

"I'm a history nerd," said Reimer. "As soon as we turned out the lights and it started to run we thought 'this is an amazing glimpse of our province.'"

Watch the side-by-side comparison of driving from Victoria to Swartz Bay in 1966 vs. 2019

The Ministry of Transportation has released a video of driving down Highway 17 in 1966. Much has changed since then, as you can see from this 2019 dash cam video. 3:38

Reimer and her team digitized the reels and have made two dozen videos showing what B.C. highways looked like back then.

In 1966, two university students hired by the ministry were given a list of highways and tasked with capturing them on film. Reimer estimates the footage was obtained over three months during that summer.

The ministry devised a rudimentary dashcam that was set up to take a photo every 24 metres. Those photos were then processed as 16 millimetre film reels.

The original intention of the project, said Reimer, was to identify parts of the highway that needed improvement or repair.

Reimer said there are so many differences between the highways in 1966 and now that she had to watch the reels a few times before she understood where the drivers were.

While the footage speaks differently to everyone, Reimer said it captures a bygone era that evokes a feeling whomever you are.

"The road is great, but for me it's what's on the sides of the road. And the communities it passes through."

With files from All Points West and Michael Mcarthur


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