In the spring of 2013, the grade 12 photography class at St. Jean de Brebeuf Catholic High School, under the direction of their teacher, John Senisi, began an incredibly challenging yet intriguing project. Using historic photographs from the City of Vaughan Archives, City Clerk’s Office, the students attempted to match the location in their chosen historic image with the present day geographical location.
While at first glance this project may look simple, it actually presented the students with many difficulties, such as finding the right angle, exact standing location of the original photographer, and dealing with the unanticipated lens distortion effects occasionally used in the 1800s by the masters. On average, the students had to return to the location a minimum of three times in order to get the desired effect. Often, they had to tilt or angle the photograph in such a way as to make it match the actual structure, as can be seen below.
The results, however, are both fascinating and thought-provoking. The old contrasted with the new doesn’t just tell the age-old story of progress and changing times. Rather, these images highlight the community’s grand, old buildings – the shops and churches and schools – which still stand today amidst the hustle and bustle of modern society, buildings we might otherwise dismiss were it not for the City’s archival photographs and a creative grade 12 assignment.
On Jan. 9, 2014 the students had a chance to showcase their work at the Vellore Hall. The event was well attended by family and friends and even received local media coverage. The students displayed their images around a map of Vaughan and used string and pins to mark where their photograph had been taken. The map became a visual representation of the diverse locations throughout Vaughan to which the students had travelled.
The exhibition at Vellore Hall also allowed the students to display their other photography projects.
The City of Vaughan Archives has been delighted to work with these extremely talented grade 12 students and is excited to present this virtual exhibit. All 26 images will become part of the City Archives’ permanent collection and can be viewed on the Archives’ website or on the City’s Facebook page.
Archival Records Analyst
City of Vaughan Archives
City Clerk’s Office