The Village of Burk's Falls and Township of Perry are redesigning the tourism experience for the travelling public by putting information in the palm of their hands.
Both communities have partnered with Toronto-based Driftscape, which is now putting together local points of interest on an application people can download on their cell phones.
Lacey Stevens, the recreation coordinator for the Village of Burk's Falls, says once people download the app, they can “plan their trip ahead of time by viewing the locations they would like to visit.”
Stevens says this means people can take a virtual tour of the area beforehand and see the sites for themselves in person.
“The Driftscape application will be an amazing tool for tourism in the Almaguin Highlands,” Stevens said.
Stevens adds the partnership with Perry means the application can showcase more of the region.
Perry Coun. Joe Lumley says the technology will allow the community “to showcase its local hidden gems through the lens of the Driftscape app,” adding that forming a partnership with the tech firm was an easy process.
Lumley says the application makes it possible to collaborate with Burk's Falls in many areas.
More than 50 organizations are using the Driftscape app, including Tourism North Bay.
The app acts like a tour guide, but without the actual person acting as your guide.
It uses audio, video and still images, and highlights upcoming local events, maps and interesting local facts.
For example, the user will learn that the name Burk's Falls was the result of a coin toss between settlers David Francis Burk and Henry Knight.
Both arrived in the area around the same time in the fall of 1875.
The area was already seeing plenty of logging activity during the 1860s and when it came time to give the falls and land a name, both Burk and Knight agreed to flip a coin, with the winner naming the landscape after himself.
Tourists also will learn through the app that Perry Township covers more than 46,000 acres of land and within that territory lies 19 lakes, making up 1,610 acres of water.
Stevens says both communities will start with 25 points of interest each on the app.
Driftscape is open to adding more Almaguin communities and Stevens says if more jump on board, that will increase the number of interest points tourists can become aware of.
Because the app is able to deliver real-time information, tourists can modify and change their plans on the go even if they are already in Burk's Falls or Perry.
The Driftscape app is free to download and there are no advertisements on it.
For iOS devices, Apple users can download it through the App Store, and if you're an Android user, the app is available on Google Play.
Once downloaded, users will see a large map allowing them to zoom in to either Burk's Falls or Perry Township.
Because Driftscape is only now in the process of adding information to the app, Burk's Falls has eight points of interest, while Perry has seven.
However, Stevens says more are coming.
Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget