If you're searching for a way to see Canada without leaving your desk, Google has the answer.
The search engine giant has partnered with Parks Canada to offer virtual tours of 86 parks and historic sites spread across the Great White North. Powering the new collection of tours is the same technology behind Google's Street View maps and the work of three teams spread across Western, Central and Eastern Canada.
Virtual maps of Banff National Park, the Rideau Canal and even the L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site are now online and free to explore. It's the culmination of six months of work Google employees armed with Street View cars and Trekker backpackers — think giant knapsacks with a 360-degree camera jutting out from the top — have compiled.
15 places Google wants you to see. Story continues after the gallery:
It's also a way to bring online a collection of Canadian destinations, according to Aaron Brindle, a spokesperson with Google.
"As a Canadian, I found we didn’t have any images of Parks Canada that administer some of the country’s most iconic imagery," Brindle told The Huffington Post Canada.
"My dad’s British and he came to Canada in the ‘60s. When he arrived, he had this postcard of Lake Louis with this amazing artist’s rendering of the lake and the hotel. Some might say it’s a stereotype but it exists for a reason."
So far, the collection features a mixture of locations ubiquitous with Canada, like Yoho National Park and the Fortress of Louisbourg, as well as lesser-known destinations like Cabot Tower or the Cave and Basin in Alberta.
Earlier, Google succeeded in mapping the House of Commons as well as Canada's Arctic community. South of the border, the company has done the same with the U.S. National Park Services to bring tours of America's national monuments and parks.
But there's more to come, according to Brindle.
"It’s a big project and it's not finished by any means." Brindle says the mapping will resume in the summer to give the virtual tours consistency in their images. Google hopes to virtually document 120 parks and historic sites by 2014.
"Work in Canada is never done. It’s a vast country. We have work to do. There are so amazing places that we have yet to capture."
With files from the Canadian Press
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