by Lorraine Payette, written September 1, 2013
(MALLORYTOWN LANDING, ON) – August was a more than exciting time for Thousand Islands National Park in Mallorytown Landing as Google sent in its crew to photo-map the park and upload it to their Google Trekker collection.
“We’re working to build the very best map of the world,” says Google. And taking advantage of the best in modern technology along with the most knowledgeable hikers and information specialists in the world’s most interesting places, they are going out to do exactly that.
“Parks Canada and Google have forged a partnership that will bring Google Street View’s 360 degree panoramic imagery to Canada’s majestic national parks and compelling national historic sites,” said Sophie Borcoman, Visitor Experience Manager at Thousand Islands National Park. “(This year) 2013 marks the first year Google’s new “Trekker” is being used in Canada, after pilot work last year in some prominent and challenging American natural landscapes such as the Grand Canyon, and work earlier this year in Canada’s arctic community of Iqaluit. Capable of going anywhere a person can hike, the Trekker will be the work-horse of the Parks Canada-Google collaboration, allowing Google to document a wide range of features within Canada’s national heritage places including back country hikes, front country day use trails, campgrounds, around the many nooks and crannies of historic properties, and even up into and along fortification walls.”
Resembling a fantastical science fiction prop from an early movie, the Trekker is a highly sophisticated camera system made portable and easily run by a single person.
“(It is) essentially a backpack with a camera system like the Google Street Car that takes multiple images at the same time to record 360 degree views,” said Borcoman.
From August 20-22, the team wound their way through the Park, recording trails and other points of interest. Anywhere the cameraperson could go, the camera went, quietly logging all that was available to be seen in TI National Park.
“Visitors to Google Maps online will be able to take real (virtual) hikes through Thousand Islands National Park,” said Borcoman. “Given the spread out island nature of the park, it has not been possible to capture images of every trail on every island. The park prioritized locations to have Google Maps capture based popularity of islands, landscapes or features, and ease of access for Google mapping.”
In the spring of 2013, Google Maps started collecting Street View imagery from the most iconic national parks and historic sites in the Park’s Canada system. TI National Park was selected as one of this elite group, which includes the Fortress of Louisburg (celebrating its tercentenary this year).
“Google Maps will visit national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas across Canada, including Gros Morne National Park, the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal National Historic Site, Grasslands National Park, Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and many more,” said Borcoman.
The work started in the spring and will conclude in the fall of 2014. Their goal is to bring Street View to more than 120 national parks and historic sites throughout Canada.
“Bringing Street View to Parks Canada locations gives Canadians and people around the world a chance to virtually explore national heritage places from across Canada,” said Borcoman. “From planning a summer vacation to augmenting classroom lesson plans, the partnership between Parks Canada and Google will better connect Canadians to the amazing places and geography that defines this country.
“As much of Thousand Islands National Park is only accessible by crossing water in a boat, Google Maps will help highlight why it is worth packing up a boat or kayak to reach the park, help people decide where they want to stay, and really illustrate some of the unique features of the Thousand Islands region that are hard to visualise if you haven’t ever been here.”
The TI National Park is conveniently located within 320 kms of Toronto, 230 kms of Montreal, and is a comfortable drive from several US cities. Select camping is available, especially through the use of oTENTik tents carefully placed within the park. Much of the park is only accessible by water, making it well worth the time to pack canoe or kayak and come out to enjoy a magnificent stay in the Thousand Islands.
“I think a lot of people will find the Google Street Views of Thousand Islands National Park very useful for planning their trip to the park,” said Jeff Leggo, park superintendent. “It will help visitors choose where and how they want to stay by showcasing some of the different features offered on park islands.”