Strange divot

Posted in Canadian life, Random thoughts, Technology trends at 9:59 pm by ducky

Maps are quirky things. The Web is amazing.

I was looking at Canadian province boundaries for a hobby project of mine, and found a strange divot in the border between Nunavut and Northwest Territories. Google maps shows the border running happily due east along the 70th parallel, then suddenly dropping down about seven miles, going over about five miles, back up to the 70th parallel, and continuing east as if nothing had happened.

I was stumped as to what it might be. I looked at the area at the highest zoom, and I could see absolutely nothing interesting there: no roads, no lakes, no nothing.. I speculated that maybe there was a Minister of Parliment who had a summer cottage there, because nothing else made sense.

I asked the geography types here, and one asked a friend, who posted it on MetaFiler, and I got an answer! The short answer is that there was a prior land claim that the government just didn’t want to open up again.

It turns out that the reason that I couldn’t see anything interesting on the sat images was because Google had the divot in the wrong place. It’s supposed to be over to the right a bit. I drew a line on the map over where the Nunavut Act says it is supposed to be. There is in fact a lake there.

Now think about this. Fifteen years ago, I would have never had access to a map that showed that level of detail. (Or maybe I could get access, but it would take enough effort that it wouldn’t be something I did casually.) Fifteen years ago, if I wondered about the divot, I wouldn’t have even known how to start finding out what that divot was. And, if I found an error in the map, I wouldn’t have known who to contact about fixing the map in the next printing. Now, thanks to the Web, I can do all those things.

It’s been thirteen years since I discovered the Web, and I still think it is pretty amazing.


  1. Vince said,

    April 18, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Actually, 15 years ago you wouldn’t have had this problem to begin with, as Nunavut did not even exist 🙂

  2. Best Webfoot Forward » hobby project blues said,

    May 22, 2007 at 3:00 pm

    […] There is a bug in Google’s maps that I found when I was tracing the Canadian outlines. It wasn’t a big deal, but I spent non-zero time on it. […]

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