BC Stories

Exploring the natural history of British Columbia through stories of the land and people, experienced firsthand in Virtual Reality

Explore the Stories


In partnership with Ocean Networks Canada, IBM, and the Royal BC Museum, BC Stories is creating a virtual and augmented reality game of tsunami preparations and modeled events in the Port Alberni inlet. This game will involve both cooperative and competitive elements to engage young adults at the new student learning centre at the Royal BC Museum.

The demo is progressing! We showed it off to over 250 people at the Discover Tectoria show in February. Here is short video to get an idea of what was shown:

Here are some of our students talking about the January milestone:

Late in 2017, Tania presented an earlier milestone to the UN Office of Outer Space affairs. This helped the team focus on the emergency responder user interface. The following movie illustrates this:

Some of our fantastic partners

The development team is resting on the shoulders of giants. The hard work has been collecting the stories and artifcats that make up our province's history. Some of those organizations and projects are listed here.

The Team

Dr. Derek Jacoby


I'm Derek. I was at Microsoft for about a decade working on the windows team and in Microsoft Research as lead program manager on the speech recognition team. I was the designer and developer of the “How do I” language model in Windows, which allows you, for instance, to say things like “How do I add a user?” and have it bring up the appropriate help page. I left Microsoft wanting to return to Canada and go back to grad school. I received my PhD from University of Victoria last year, and have been doing a lot of web development, some interesting signal processing, working with electronics and embedded systems, and developing VR applications. I am also founder and president of the Victoria Makerspace, a collective tool workshop from which some of our team members are drawn for this project. I am also doing a post-doc with Yvonne at UVic, run a boutique development company called QVirt labs, and am a mentor for a local web development bootcamp called lighthouse labs.

Dr. Yvonne Coady


I work with the MOD(ularity) Squad (the grooviest gang of students to ever attempt to improve the modularity of system infrastructure software), in the Computer Science Department, in the Faculty of Engineering, at the University of Victoria, Canada. Research Interests: mixed reality systems, citizen science, emerging avenues of advanced modularity across the software stack, and new programming paradigms and future pedagogical directions for immersive applications

Tania Lado Insua
Ocean Analytics Program Manager, Ocean Networks Canada, British Columbia, Canada

Tania Insua is originally from Galicia, Spain, where she obtained a bachelors degree in Marine Sciences from University of Vigo. She expanded her studies by obtaining a Diploma of Advanced Studies from University of Vigo, in collaboration with University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. She obtained MS and PhD degrees in Ocean Engineering from the University of Rhode Island with research focusing on applying models of sediment physical properties to past and present climate change. She was an active participant of several Integrated Ocean Drilling Program expeditions (325, 336, 341S and 344S), sailing as a physical properties specialist or ocean engineer. Her research interests include international collaborations on diverse research topics such as paleoceanography, geohazards monitoring and modelling and paleoclimate. In her current role as the Ocean Analytics Program Manager for Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), her portfolio includes several projects, ranging from hydroacoustics analysis to ocean waves. She leads and is the main modeler of the ONC Tsunami program that includes both real time detection of tsunamis based on ocean observing systems and coastal radars, as well as tsunami inundation modeling for preparedness and risk management. This program is a close international collaboration between academia, industry, provincial and federal governmental organizations.

Aldyn Chwelos


I'm Aldyn. I'm a third(ish) year Computer Science Student at UVic. My background mainly involves front-end development. Both game development and VR are new areas for me and I'm looking forward to getting to delve into them both. I'm really excited to be a part of this project and the experience of creating new ways of interacting with the incredible resources at the Royal BC Museum.

Eric Dahl


I'm Eric, and I'm currently studying second year software engineering at UVic. Working on small games/projects has always been a hobby of mine. The primary programs I use are Unity and Blender, which I learned through creating mods for Kerbal Space Program, and through (somewhat freeform) high-school IT classes. Before that I also worked in Gamemaker, which I used to create games for several Ludum Dare game jams. I took a bit of a break while working and adjusting to University, but I'm starting to get back into the flow of things.

David Leach


I'm David. I'm the Chair of the Department of Writing & the co-founder of UVic's Digital Storytelling & Social Simulation Lab. I'm especially interested in the narrative potential of interactive media, including CYOA books, text adventures, video games, augmented and virtual reality, geolocative storytelling, and web-based interactive (non)fiction and poetry. I studied BASIC, FORTRAN and PASCAL a long time ago but couldn't code my way out of a wet paper bag today. I like to connect students with off-campus community and entrepreneurial projects.

Julian Levy


Hi, I'm Julian, I'm a second year undergrad at UVic studying something in between Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Visual Arts. I've been using google sketchup for around eight years now, and so 3D modelling has always been something I've had a passion for. When it comes to Visual Arts, digital media, large installation works and generative art has always been my favourite medium to focus on, especially in the interweaving of both digital and physical elements of art. Im beyond excited for the ways that VR can bridge many of the gaps between real and digital worlds, and incredibly pumped to be working with this team!

Merrick Paquin-Mannington


Hey, I’m Merrick. I’m a second-year software engineering student at Uvic. I’ve played around with various media tools including Blender, GIMP and Unity in the past and am really enjoying putting them to use in this project. I’m also using Matlab to model tsunamis and turn the output into assets that we can use in Unity.

Matt Richardson


I'm Matt. Many years ago I discovered I had a great need for artistic expression and creation but absolutely no drawing or musical ability. The next best thing seemed to learn to create in every other medium I could. I work in everything from metal and wood to electronics and code. Last year Derek Jacoby introduced me to the wonderful world of VR and I was hooked. I had previous experience using Unity 4 and Blender from work I had done on some KSP mods and quickly applied that to creating VR worlds and tools. I also have a good chunk of experience in industrial CAD and system design.

This project tickled my “Must Do” genes because I am also something of a Museum Rat. I'm the kind of guy that has memberships to the things and actually goes on a regular basis. Naturally, I am terribly excited to be part of such a fantastically talented team! GO BCS!

Currently I'm working on building a few 3d scanners to assist the story teams by creating meshes from existing artifacts in The BC Archives.

Spencer Thompson


Spencer Thompson has contributed as a scriptwriter and filmmaker on this project. He is in the midst of receiving his bachelors of Fine Arts specializing in screenwriting within the creative writing program with a minor in business. His future aspirations are to enrol in the Masters of Digital Media program at the Centre for Digital Media in Vancouver, B.C. and to one day work as a creative director. Spencer plans on travelling to Japan and South East Asia starting in January 2018 and is looking forward to taking countless photos.

Andy Wynden


I'm Andy. I am (or perhaps was) a student in the UVic Computer Science department. I'm currently working full time as a front-end developer, so I'll see if I make it back to school at some point. I'm interested in learning how to develop in Unity and for VR - my other passion is ceramics, so I'm hoping VR is a nice intersection between coding and using my spatial brain.