Not a pingo, not even in the territory: N.W.T. tourism's cover photo touts Yukon mountain

The Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment said it would like to assure people that it does indeed know the difference between a mountain and a pingo.

Cover photo of territory's tour pamphlet actually an image taken near Tombstone Territorial Park in Yukon

There have been 15,000 guides printed, which will be distributed to many different places, such as British Columbia, Alberta, and the United States. (N.W.T Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment)

The government of the Northwest Territories recently made a pingo out of a mountain in a cover photo of one of its tourism pamphlets.

The photo, in the government's Road and Campground Guide, is a picturesque shot of a mountain reflecting off the surface of a mirror-like lake. The cutline for the photo says, "Pingo National Landmark."

But there's a problem: the photo is not of a pingo — it wasn't even taken in the Northwest Territories.

The photo was actually taken in 2011 by a photographer named Samantha Stuart, who worked for the Department of Tourism at the time. She took the photo near Tombstone Territorial Park, which a park employee describes as being in the "mid-western" part of the Yukon.

Samantha Stuart took the photo near Tombstone Territorial Park, which is the Yukon, in 2011. (N.W.T Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment)

Pingos are small, cone-shaped hills that grow from permafrost, which are found in Tuktoyaktuk.

"I thought it was a little comical that it was being classified as a pingo," said Stuart. She posted on Twitter and Facebook that the photo was not of a pingo.

"I just wanted to be transparent … in what I was capturing," said Stuart.

But she said she was thrilled the photo was chosen for the cover, because it's her favourite image.

I thought it was a little comical.- Samantha Stuart, photographer of the cover photo

Drew Williams, manager of communications with the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment, said the cover photo was originally a shot of the pingos.

But it was changed at the last minute because pingos are not accessible by road, and tourists cannot camp on them, which made it less than ideal for the road and campground guide.

Department says they know the difference

Williams said he wanted to assure people that the department does know the difference between a pingo and a mountain.

Until Friday, the department was not aware that the photo was taken in the Yukon, but it's not concerned. Williams said the photo shows the trip along the Dempster Highway — something the department promotes on a large scale.

The photo was taken near Tombstone Territorial park by photographer Samantha Stuart. (Google Maps)

The mountain would be seen on that trip. "Our primary focus was that it was a spectacular photo of an image that you would see on the drive north into the Northwest Territories," said Williams.

"You're not going to just do the Yukon side and turn around at the Arctic circle and come back," said Stuart. "You're going to experience the whole thing."

Samantha Stuart took the photo in 2011 when she worked for the department of tourism. (Angela Gzowski)

Stuart said that people should experience the drive in their lifetime.

About 15,000 of the guides have been printed and are widely distributed to places including British Columbia, Yukon, Manitoba and the United States. Individual guide books are also sent out upon request.

It costs $1 per guide to produce, so the total cost is about $15,000.

The guide is also available online through a PDF. The tourism department said the cutline for that document will be changed to reflect the content of the photo.


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