Google launches Street View for Beaumont Hamel, Vimy Ridge
You can now visit the memorials virtually from your living room
If you haven't been able to visit the Canadian First World War memorials in France, you can now take a virtual tour.
Google has launched Street View imagery of Beaumont Hamel and Vimy Ridge, just in time for the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on Sunday.
"It's quite moving," Aaron Brindle, head of public affairs for Google Canada, told CBC Radio's Weekend A.M.
"It does feel like a little piece of Canada in northern France that few of us get to visit, and up until now it's just been this dot on a map. But this is now a chance to actually go in and virtually explore this part of our shared history."
Just as you can use Google Maps to see your house or downtown St. John's, you can now visit these memorial sites.
For Vimy Ridge, that meant using drones to capture images of the monument, which stands 110 metres above the Douai Plain.
"Now you can actually go and immerse yourself in these environments," Brindle said.
The same technology used on top of Street View Google cars was condensed into a backpack for this project, Brindle said, with a large apparatus that extends over the head of whoever wears it.
Fifteen high-definition cameras capture imagery every two to three seconds as the person carrying the equipment walks.
An accelerometer and gyroscope are also used to ensure a smooth experience while going through the imagery, Brindle added.
"I got a chance to wear the trekker and as I was walking through some of the preserved trenches around Vimy … I've never felt more Canadian [while] in northern France," he said.
"I've never felt closer to Canada than when I was doing this project."
To take a virtual tour for yourself, go to Google Maps and type in Beaumont Hamel or Vimy Ridge and drag the little peg man figure — located in the bottom right corner — wherever there is a blue line.
"It's this opportunity to almost tell these stories through mapping … modern-day mapping, especially with Street View imagery associated with it, really does allow you to reflect these amazing moments," Brindle said. "Not only in our shared geography, but in our shared history."
With files from Weekend AM