Thursday, May 8, 2014

Then and Now: St. Joseph's Oratory

Here's a picture my dad took of St.Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal in Montréal. It began life as a small chapel in 1904, but has grown and been rebuilt throughout the 20th century. The current configuration was completed in 1967. According to Dad's records, this shot would have been taken on Avenue de Somerled looking North-ish towards St. Joseph's in 1970. 1970 St Josephs from Somerled
Or was it? Below is the modern Google Maps view. This is Somerled looking North-ish, just south of Oxford. I'm fairly certain I'm in the correct spot. The cross street ahead is a one-street crossing left-to-right in both pictures, there's a brick house on the right corner that look similar (red brick with white windows, grey at ground level, with a small window in the grey area), and the street ends in just a couple of blocks. The only thing missing in the Google Maps view is, of course, St. Joseph's.
So either Dad got his street wrong, or a super-villain has kidnapped the largest Church in Canada. But Somerled is the only street that points directly at the side of St. Joseph's like that. And it's hard to imagine that the entire hill has disappeared. What is going on here?
There may be another explanation other than the nefarious machinations of Lex Luthor. First, the height of the Google Street View car picture is higher than the height of my Dad, so that may have affected the angle of view of the Google pic. I also wonder if Dad was using a telephoto lens which may have resulted in some foreshortening of the image, making St.Joseph's appear closer than it is. If I've got the right spot, St. Joseph's is still about 2 km away. And the Google folks would have been using a wide angle lens, making St.Joseph's appear even further away. An interesting illustration of how an image can be manipulated by the lens you choose.
On the other hand, that's a lot of missing hill and church to account for. I may just have to go back there one day to solve the mystery!

Reader Stephanie found this Google Map image from a little further up the street where you can see St. Joseph's poking up. The angle is nothing like my father got, but at least one can see the Oratory.

Then reader Blair found this image with a better view of the oratory which when cropped gives a view of the oratory remarkably similar to what dad shot. It is an interesting study of perspective and lenses. All the photos were taken within a couple of blocks of each other, and yet each have different views of the church.

1 comment:

  1. Try from 5815-5817 Somerled Ave
    Montreal, QC H3X -- approximate address
    And the top of the church can be seen.