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  • Writer's pictureGabrielle Bossy

The Legacy of The Tillson Legacy

Recently I launched a new project called The Tillson Legacy. It is another WordPress site that tells the story of E.D. and Mary Ann Tillson and their home at 30 Tillson Avenue. Even though this house was their retirement home, E.D. launched one of his biggest ventures yet here- a model farm that would be the envy of just about every farmer in Ontario complete with an orchard, bull pen, creamery, horse stables, bee hives, a piggery and “ballroom” to exercise the pigs and Ontario’s largest solid brick barn.

In order to take full advantage of this site, users can download an app called ‘layar’ on their iOS or Android device, scan this photographs and watch videos and image slideshows pop up on their phone! This blog post will let you in on how I made this happen and the way the website came together.

First of course was a lot of research. I got my information on the house from a great number of primary sources- the Annandale House Archives and Early Canadiana Online, a great online resource with lots of information about farming in early Canada. Second, I was able to pool the knowledge I already had from my training working at Annandale House. Third, I took advantage of a number of ‘amateur historians’ who have written on the home. Although not techincally qualified or scholarly, I feel confident that this was the best way to gather information on the house because these three individuals (Patricia Phelps, Marie Blake and Laurel Beechey) know the most about it after years of research for the museum.

Okay let’s get to the fun stuff now- layar. To create a layar campaign you have two options:

1. Upload full pages that you would like to be scannable by your audience. This usually means changing your document into PDF format. I started this way but found it to be problematic because the program will not accept large sections of text on a page and I would not have been able to include all the information that I felt the project assigned to me required. So I opted for…

2. Upload single images that are scannable and that you can imbed onto whatever page you create. This allowed me to place scannable photographs into a word document file a place word around it in whatever fashion I chose, giving me much more freedom with the design of my project and also allowing it to look better on the website as well.

In order to get these uploaded I went to and created an account! Don’t worry this is totally free. Once logged in, I selected my name and chose ‘Go to Creator’. From there, you click ‘+Add Campaign’. This will bring you to a blank field. You are given the options to add pages. Rather than add pages however, remember that I opted to make these pages just photos uploaded to the site.

Once I had uploaded my photographs….which believe me took a VERY long time, I was able to start embedding. For some of the photographs in my project, I wanted them to turn into videos once scanned. For this, I had to film the video and upload it to YouTube. From there, in the campaign on layar, I dragged the YouTube icon onto the photograph I wanted to do this for. A window pops up and asks you to type in the YouTube url. After that you can test the page and adjust it how you want.

For ‘image carousels’ I was required to find several photographs of whatever I wanted to slideshow. For some images this was problematic as the archive simply did not have more than one photo of a specific farm building or scene. For example, there was only one photograph of the piggery so I was not able to layar- activate this photograph. However, wherever I had more than one photograph as was the case with the solid brick barn, I could drag the image carousel icon onto the original photograph and a new window would once again pop open and allow me to upload more photographs of the solid brick barn that the user could slide through. Unfortunately, this is a long process as the website is very slow at uploading pictures and OFTEN has errors in uploading. Because my files weren’t particularly big and because I tried it on several computers and networks, I concluded that this was a site issue and not an issue with any of my devices or internet connections. Also, sometimes when the images get uploaded they do so upside down or not particular reason and you cannot rotate them. To remedy this, I pasted the photographs into paint and resaved them which seemed to fix the problem.

After everything was uploaded I was very confused because my images would sometimes scan and sometimes wouldn’t- talk about nerve racking!!! However, I quickly realized this was because the campaign needed to be published. From then on I could scan the images on a print out version or on the WordPress site and it brought up exactly what I wanted. Phew!

It was a really fun project to work on and I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I enjoyed making it!

Peace, love & history.

Scan this photograph in layar and see a message from the mayor!

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