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Wilderness Wi-Fi Won’t Enhance the Great Outdoors

Posted in News Updates, What's Happening in Canada? Written by The Toronto Star

Once a quintessential sound of Canada’s North, the call of the loon appears passé compared to funny cat videos. At least Parks Canada seems to think so.

It has plans to create wireless Internet hot-spots in up to 50 national parks and historic sites this year and later tripling that number.

Once treasured as a way of “getting away from it all,” a visit to the great outdoors could henceforth mean not getting away at all — not from Miley Cyrus twerking videos, the brother-in-law’s latest selfie, messages from work, Rob Ford jokes, Star Wars Day and Facebook friends who “like” the photo you took of your lunch.

Who cares about some loon when you’ve got all that?

It does make you wonder how the voyageurs of old ever managed to traverse the vast north woods without a handy smart phone. Thanks to federal parks officials, Canadians need never find out.

In fairness to Parks Canada, their plan isn’t to spread free Wi-Fi to every nook and cranny of the country’s 44 national parks and 167 historic sites. Wireless service will be available mainly in visitor centres and at campgrounds.

About 20 million people currently visit national parks facilities each year, but the number has been dropping. So park officials are looking into new ways to attract urbanites and younger, screen-obsessed Canadians. The goal is to put them better in touch with the outdoors. Ironically, doing so with free Wi-Fi gives these people an opportunity to turn away from nature and stare at their screens.

It seems contrary to the point. But never mind. Instead of singing “Land of the Silver Birch” we’ll have a chance to listen as someone else does it on YouTube.

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