Put Into Perspective

Ontario is a big province.

How big do you say?

Let’s say you wanted to do a little driving.  So, I hop in the car and ask Google Maps to get me to Kenora.  From Amherstburg, there are a couple of alternate routes.  All of them involve crossing at the Ambassador Bridge and going through the US. I’m going to extend the rules a bit…I want to stay in Ontario.  I’ll add a via point of Barrie and that keeps me in the province.

Google estimates it to be over 23 hours driving.  We know that time is probably not realistic – you’ve got to get through Toronto and up Hwy 400!  Still, it’s a huge drive.  Yet, that doesn’t get us into the expanse that is Northern Ontario.  Let’s see how about getting to Polar Bear Provincial Park.

Anyone who has driven to Thunder Bay knows that Highway 11 is about as far north as you can get on a well paved highway.  Of course, there are the 500s, but that’s a stretch.  Any way you cut it, the drive is huge.

In school, we learn about Australia.  While we know about the animals and major cities, that’s sadly about it.  It’s typically a pink country/continent in the bottom right corner of the map.  We also learned about map distortion.  But, for Australia…just how big is it?  The Australian Government sheds some light here.  But, it’s always good to discover and explore for yourself.

Enter Overlay Maps to help out.  The concept is very simple.  Through selection, you overlay one part of the earth onto another.  To get a sense of how big Australia is, I’ll try to overlay Ontario (which I know is huge!) on top.

Wow!  What a way to compare the two and, holy cow, is Australia ever big!

I wonder – “A Mari Usque Ad Mare”?

Sans the northern-most islands.

What a wonderful tool to compare the known to the unknown!  Perhaps Australian people would reverse the map?

One of the activities that I like to do when introducing Google Maps is to spin it so that South is at the top of the screen and then ask people to get their bearings.  It is difficult when we get locked into a particular mindset about how things should be.

I look to this application to provide further inspiration into an inquiry all about perspectives.

Can you find a country in South America the same size as Ontario?

What sorts of activities can you create when you compare one location with another by overlaying?

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

8 thoughts on “Put Into Perspective”

  1. Thanks for sharing these perspectives, Doug. So important, but maybe overlooked in different learning situations?
    As you would guess, I have been on the hwy. stretch between Toronto and Thunder Bay. After North Bay on 11, taking 17 is still quite good for the rest of the trip through Ontario and west… just very hilly for those not expecting it or for the first time. Amazing scenery but the views from the highway over the lakes can be daunting! Yes, a two day drive/one overnight is the best plan, I think. The hwy. can start to feel narrow and long…. I prefer to fly 🙂
    So much to discover in Ontario 🙂


  2. so today, in preparation for a Mystery Skype, we were looking at a world map, and one of my students asked – which is bigger, Madame, the U.S. or Australia. How handy it was that I read your blog this morning! Love it!


  3. Great post as always Doug!

    Lisa – the answer for your student is:

    Australia appears bigger if you lay it over USA but then if you add in Alaska and Hawaii; it makes USA bigger. However to put our population into context more people live in Texas than live in Australia.

    Most of our country is a tough environment to live in. For example. 92 % of the population of Western Australia, where I live, are located in the lower South West of the State (see this photo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South-West_Land_Division ). FYI Western Australia is the second-largest country subdivision in the world and the wealthy State in our country due to mining and resources.


  4. That is so strange, Lisa. I’m glad that they were able to visualize the solution. Once again, you must appear to be the swami in the room!


  5. Thanks for your kind comment, Sue. It’s always an honour when you drop by. Australia has always been a fascinating place for me. One of the things that’s always so subjective is culture. Is there a big cultural / language accent difference between western Australia and eastern Australia?

    I saw a map once called “The world according to Americans” which focussed on stereotypes, which was unfortunate. Both Canada and Australia didn’t fare too well. I do remember smiling though when they referenced Tasmania as a “place we only care about because of cartoons”.


    1. Hi Doug

      Unlike Britain, UK and Canada there isn’t any difference in Australian accents. It isn’t possible to identify where an Australian is from based on the accent. I admit to finding it intriguing that we don’t have distinct differences in accents considering how disperse our population is.

      Also makes you wonder why the Australian and New Zealand accent are so similar. There are such subtle differences that you would have to be an Aussie or Kiwi, and listen to the person long enough, to correctly identify which country they are from.

      You might enjoy this video I shared yesterday on the Aussie language – http://youtu.be/xuRrp83jCuQ

      Technically any one is allowed to pick on the Tasmanians! We do! Only fair considering they refer to us as mainlanders.



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