Toronto In Time app

New smartphone app brings Toronto history to life

There are already a few (free) smartphone apps on the market for those looking to explore the history of Toronto while on the go. Options like Zeitag TO and WhatWasThere both offer excellent ways to engage with this city's history on a visual level. The most recent app to enter the fray, however, takes a slightly different approach. Released earlier this month, Toronto In Time offers a more textually rich take on our history with write-ups for over 150 sites across the city.

Typically three to four paragraphs in length, these narratives tend to strike the right balance between detail and generality and offer crucial context in cases where the user might not be familiar with a given historical site. And, lest I make it sound like there's no visual component at all, it should be noted that the before and after images that accompany many of the articles are absolutely fascinating.

Although GPS-based location services aren't one of the apps features, the map option allows you to manually search for proximate sites and their attendant stories. You can also peruse entries based on thematic groupings, though I got the senese that the categories were a bit too general for my liking. The "Trails" section, on the other hand, strikes me as a smart way to structure dedicated walking tours, when you're explicit purpose is to explore Toronto history.

Available for iPhone and Android, the app is a joint project between The Canadian Encyclopedia, the Historica-Dominion Institute, Museum Services of the City of Toronto, and Heritage Toronto. Local history enthusiasts would do well to add it to their devices.


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