Street View of the end of the Earth

Google goes to ellesmere is­land

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - BoB We­Ber

it’s of­fi­cial. google Street View has now gone to the ends of the earth.

as part of a deal with Parks canada, the in­ter­net giant is now show­cas­ing Street View im­ages of one of the re­motest places on the planet — Qut­tinir­paaq Na­tional Park on the north­ern tip of ellesmere is­land.

“We want peo­ple to care about the places that we pro­tect,” said emma up­ton, who man­ages the park. “bring­ing it into peo­ple’s homes seemed a re­ally good idea. “it is a dif­fi­cult place to reach.” that is an un­der­state­ment. Only a tiny sliver at green­land’s apex reaches fur­ther north.

to reach Qut­tinir­paaq (pro­nounced kih-turN-ih-pak), you first fly to iqaluit, the cap­i­tal of Nu­navut. your next flight takes you to res­o­lute on corn­wal­lis is­land. then you must hire a twin Ot­ter to fly to the park, where there are no com­mu­ni­ties, no ser­vices, no noth­ing.

it takes days and thou­sands of dol­lars. Fewer than 25 souls man­age it each year.

For those in­trepid trav­ellers, how­ever, the re­wards are rich.

“it’s a place where we can still find true soli­tude and we can still ex­pe­ri­ence real si­lence,” said up­ton. “you can hike for days and you will not see a sin­gle jet fly­ing over you. you will hear the wind in your ears and a few birds and the water rush­ing.”

Moun­tains, glaciers cling­ing to their sides, soar thou­sands of me­tres from icy seas. rivers carve through rugged val­leys past gen­tle hills.

“i could read the land­scape like an open book,” said up­ton.

Wildlife in­cludes herds of muskox, arc­tic fox, wolves and 10-kg arc­tic hares. gyr­fal­cons and owls slice the skies.

Parks canada staff were trained in the use of google trekker cam­eras and spent July 2016 car­ry­ing them around the park as part of their reg­u­lar work, said up­ton.

“the cam­era it­self is a very sturdy piece of equip­ment. it can be mounted on Ski-doos, atVs, on boats. in the case of a lot of our vis­its to na­tional parks, it was ac­tu­ally a per­son car­ry­ing the google trekker on their back.”

Parks canada is try­ing to make Qut­tinir­paaq a lit­tle more ac­ces­si­ble. Once a year, the agency char­ters a twin Ot­ter from res­o­lute and sells eight or nine re­turn seats to the pub­lic, price avail­able upon re­quest.

Or you could vol­un­teer to cook for park staff.

Most peo­ple will have to rely on a high-def­i­ni­tion mon­i­tor for the view and their imag­i­na­tion for the light, the wind, the si­lence.

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