Can’t go to Nu­navut? Google’s got your back

One of the most re­mote places in the world is now ac­ces­si­ble on Street View


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 most re­mote 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, 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,” Up­ton said. “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,” Up­ton said.

Wildlife in­cludes herds of muskox, Arc­tic fox, wolves and 10-kilo­gram Arc­tic hares.

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, Up­ton said.

“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. 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.


A Parks Canada staff mem­ber hikes near Tan­quary Fiord with a Google trekker cam­era in Qut­tinir­paaq Na­tional Park in Nu­navut.

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