[update: a mitigating factor] Localization (L10N) is a good thing in general: people like to see the languages, punctuation, and systems of measure that they’re used to. So, hats off to Google’s new beta map service for putting most of the streets names in Ottawa’s west end in French.
The only trouble is that the street names are actually English — we have Carling St, Holland Ave, and the Island Park Drive, not Rue Carling, Avenue Parkdale, or Promenade Island Park.
What went wrong? My guess is that Google (or their data provider) uses a vector map for L10N, either in real time or (more likely) pregenerated. Ottawa is right on the Quebec border, and the streets might have been misidentified as located in Quebec because the map doesn’t have enough resolution to follow the bends in the provincial border. [Update: to be fair, I should mention that some streets in the west end of Ottawa do have bilingual signs that say both rue and St., for example — since we’re the capital of a bilingual country, the city tries to set an example.]
Over all, Google’s mapping service is very impressive, especially for a beta, and this particular glitch is more funny than disruptive. I’m grateful that they even included Canadian cities in the first release.
They don’t include all of canada – at beyond half the zoom range you can’t quite get to Halifax, Nova Scotia, or further North than about Winnipeg.