Archivists take Esquimalt historical photos to the web

Historical Photo

For more information on the Digitization Project and the archives, or to submit your own materials visit or call 250-412-8540.

In a three-room office underneath the Esquimalt Road McDonald’s restaurant the history of the township is being brought into the digital age.

Municipal Archivist Greg Evans and his team are heading up the Archives Digitization Project, scanning over 6,000 images dating back 150 years and storing them online for the public eye.

“The archives have always been available on site, but we wanted to make our collection more accessible,” says Evans. “This way you can be anywhere in the world and look at the images we have, and also gives us a way to preserve them should anything happen to the hard copies.”

The project is one of several similar ones funded by the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre, receiving a $9,000 grant from the organization. The money has gone towards the re-inforcing of the archive’s web architecture, and the services of archive consultant and historian Patrick Craib.

Digging through stacks and stacks of photos, Craib scans and annotates each one, adding relevant information such as the date of its production, the subjects, and any other details that are to be posted alongside it on the archives website.

“Individually the photos are interesting, but once you start going through them all in succession it gives you a new appreciation for the culture that existed back then,” says Craib. “You see how people dressed, how they spent their free time, how they felt about certain events, and what was important to them. There are reasons people took photos of these events and finding those reasons is very intriguing.”

For Evans’ part he hopes the new digital archives can give the people of Esquimalt a reason to look back on the history of their community.

 “It gives us an opportunity to tell people more about life in Esquimalt throughout the last century and a half,” says Evans. “There are a lot of things about Esquimalt that have come and gone, such as the annual maypole festivals, which would be completely forgotten if not for our collection.”

The collection has been built up over the years through community donations, municipal acquisitions, and random finds. Evans says he hopes this new project will encourage people to come forward with any materials they might have so their collection can grow even further.

“We never know what people have in their attics or basements,” he says. “If anyone has something they think people might be interested in we’d absolutely love for them to come down. All history deserves to be preserved, and it’s our goal to preserve it.”

For more information on the Digitization Project and the archives, or to submit your own materials visit or call 250-412-8540.

 Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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