What Do Hockey and Google Search by Image Have in Common? More Than You Think

Known to the native Abenaki peoples as Arthabaska or Awabaska, meaning place of bulrushes and reeds, the area that eventually became Victoriaville was granted in 1802 to fur trader John Gregory (1751-1817) as part of the British colony’s township system devised to entice settlers. Google Play Generator Colonists from near the Saint Lawrence River arrived a couple of decades later, clearing land and building roads. The town’s foundation is generally associated with the establishment of its first Catholic parish in 1851. It isn’t hard to guess where the name Victoriaville came from; the parliamentary democracy and constitution of Québec is still styled after Westminster. The province is in fact the oldest existing continuously monarchical territory in North America.

Situated in the Bois-Francs region (which means hardwood), Victoriaville’s economy was rooted in textiles and furniture manufacturing for most of its existence, leading to the establishment of a cabinet making and woodworking school, the École nationale du meuble et de l’ébénisterie in 1965.

The town has also produced some of the best hockey sticks in the industry, loved by players such as Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, and Jean Béliveau.

The place is home to the largest dairy farm in Canada, along with numerous cheese producers, which is probably why it is known to serve up some of the best poutine ever.

Victoriaville is recognized as a model of sustainable development due to its efforts to support economic growth while carefully monitoring the impact on the environment. The city diverts over 65% of residual materials from landfill and can boast the first youth training and recycling centre (CFER) in Québec (1990).

The cultural and architectural history of Victoriaville is rich. Through its buildings, you can follow its progression from a rural settlement to an industrial centre. In 1854, a train station serving the Grand Trunk Railway line from Richmond to Lévis came into being. Although maintained for a hundred years, service was finally suspended in 1960. The tracks were removed and replaced by bike paths that now form the beautiful Parc linéaire des Bois-Francs.

The town hosts a long list of music and historical festivals, which help attract visitors and keep the young people interested. It has also produced an inordinate number of influential and creative individuals, including Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier (1841-1919) and artist Marc Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté (1869-1937), as well as pioneer of recycling, Normand Maurice (1946-2004).

Louis Caron (1848-1917) founded an architectural dynasty that contributed more than 150 residences and ecclesiastical buildings to the region, designed primarily in the Neo-Gothic style. Gothic Revival architecture in Canada was imported from Britain and endured until the 1930s. Victorian eclecticism, with its mansard roofs and fancy embellishments also influenced the appearance of the town, and can still be seen today.

It was one such building, photographed in 2009, that inspired the conclusion of this article. In attempting to identify it, I made the discovery of a little known tool.

Google Search by Image provides an alternative to scouring the web for information via key words and text. You can start with a file of your own or choose one on the web, then drag and drop, upload, right-click or paste a URL, depending on your choice.

Once you’ve added your file, Google will generate a series of results according to various parameters, which you can guess at by examining the selections returned. Foremost will be the colour palette, so our Victoriaville hotel photo, which was desaturated and modified using an antique filter, generated images in the same range.

Most of the images treat a similar subject (a building); if you plug in a picture of a red car, you’ll get mostly red cars parked in the same position. But then it gets more interesting. You’ll see that composition and geometry play a significant part, and that each picture has several such elements in common with others. Artists will connect with this immediately: strong perspective views, lighter fields of ‘sky’ or ‘ceiling’, squares, triangles, arches, and blocks of dark that contrast with the paleness of the overall image.

You may wonder at the usefulness of the resource, as it is fundamentally random, which is perhaps why Google hasn’t promoted it much. What would one use this for, exactly?

Google suggests: “… if you search using a picture of your favorite band, you can find similar images, websites about the band, and even sites that include the same picture. Search by image works best when the image is likely to show up in other places on the web. So you’ll get more results for famous landmarks than you will for personal images like your latest family photo.”

But that’s not the reason I like it so much. It is playful and silly and rather purposeless. It does return a list of the instances of a specific image online, much like Reverse Image Search by TinEye, which can assist the user in tracing rights owners or infringements. But it also scans the content of the image using some kind of magical algorithm. For me, its value is best described by the old adage:

… a picture is worth a thousand words…

Each of these images comes with a story: the Vietnamese village with 30 old French villas, a fleet of floating hotels on the Providence River, some Sci-fi guy who is building a model of a frontier power generator at a plasma plantation, a shop-front in the tiny Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye, where the ratio of bookstores to residents is approximately 1:60… The possibilities for artists and authors are literally endless.

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