Random Canada

On February 8, 2011 · 3 Comments

Many months ago I toyed with an idea that I called the Throw the Dart game. That’s where I’d go into Google Street View, drop the cursor onto some random part of the world and then try to create an article from thin air. It worked pretty well in October 2009 when I hit a spot outside of Piedmont, Alabama, USA. I found similar success when fate delivered my eyes to Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England in March 2010.

Then I stopped.

I still enjoyed the concept so that wasn’t the problem. No, it was this image that put me into a tailspin for nearly a year:



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Yikes! Go ahead and circle that image all the way around. I’ll wait. I can guess that you saw only a ribbon of Ontario 527 stretching to both horizons with a curtain of trees on either side. I should have known I’d hit a bunch of remoteness if I threw a cursor at interior Canada when something like 75% of the population lives within 160 km of the United States border. A gambler wouldn’t place any meaningful bet on the odds of hitting a recognizable settlement by random chance here. That’s closer to Lotto territory. Why would the Google car even drive here?



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So I’d succeeded in capturing an image of some inexplicable stretch of rural Ontario north of Thunder Bay surrounded by forests and lakes. It sat unexplored as a draft in the queue of my WordPress blog software, month after month, reminding me that I’d been stumped. I came close to deleting it. Repeatedly. Psychologically I couldn’t do it though, and it remained lodged there every day confronting me. I’d come back to it from time-to-time, piddle around with it a bit, and still find nothing.

The beauty of the Intertubes is that as long as one searches hard enough and waits long enough then something will turn up eventually. Is today my day? Well, maybe. Let’s see if we can salvage something from this location and exorcise this demon for good.



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I’ll drill in a little closer. Ponds and lakes of various sizes dot the landscape. The largest one, maybe 3 km west of my spot, is called Cheeseman Lake. I tried to determine how it gained it’s unusual name and found nothing. However, I did learn that people fish here. In fact the fishing is supposed to be pretty good according to Internet chatter. Anglers warn that one should bring plenty of extra gasoline along though: the nearest filling station is 100 km further north in Armstrong, it’s expensive, and the pumps have been known to run-out at times.

It’s also not too far away from one of Canada’s continental divides. My random spot drains towards the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. A bit further either north or west and the land drains to Hudson Bay.

The last one is best. The Ontario Ministry of Northern Development, Mines and Forestry mentions the Cheeseman Lake area on its Geology Ontario website. It’s also caught the attention of the Ontario Prospectors Association. Early testing has shown anomalous amounts of copper, gold, silver and several rare earth elements. This random spot may be sitting on a gold mine — literally — and that’s not so bad for some unknown place set in the middle of nowhere.

Nonetheless, I think I’m done with the Throw the Dart Game. Canada kicked my butt again.

On February 8, 2011 · 3 Comments

3 Responses to “Random Canada”

  1. Craig says:

    Well, I don’t know. I kind of think the combination of the Wikipedia article on Ontario 527 (second longest secondary highways in Ontario … created in the 1950s as a forest access road … various designations …. Gull Bay First Nation occupies one of the few permanent settlements on 527) with a little bit about the Gull Bay First Nation, perhaps segueing to the traditional extent and geography of the settlements of the Anishinaabe nations might have gotten you somewhere. 🙂

  2. Peter says:

    Speaking of remote Canadian roads, I have this strange urge to drive the Trans Taiga Road. It would be wildly impractical, I’d have to buy camping gear, rent a satellite phone, and hope like crazy that my tires would hold out. There’s also the fact that as someone who works on commission, I wouldn’t make any money for the several days the trip would take. Nonetheless, I really do have the urge to go.

  3. Thias says:

    The MapCrunch website can do this ‘drop the pin completely randomly’ game for you! You can even choose which countries you want the pin to be in.

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