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CSI: Quebec

They may live in that eternally polite land on the other side of our northern border, but they know where the bodies are buried. Lots of bodies. Some of them in shallow graves. Some of them in vehicles.

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No, we are not talking about Gil Grissom and the gang at CSI. We’re talking about the Secure Site for Research in Thanatology, also known as the “body farm,” which is scheduled to open this spring in Becancour, Quebec.

It’s the first such outdoor forensic facility in Canada and the first in the world – there are also body farms in the United States, Australia, and the Netherlands – to be located in a northern climate.

“We’re particularly interested in understanding what happens when a body is in subzero temperatures, when there’s a lot of snow on the ground, and how that freeze and then the thaw process might actually change the rate of decomposition,” Shari Forbes, the farm’s director, told CTV News recently.

The science team will be out on the farm every day, meticulously checking each body – talk about making a list and checking it twice – for all the important CSI stuff: how long fingerprints and DNA evidence last, the effects of insect feeding and egg-laying, and the ability of dogs to detect scents.

The decomposition process in a cold climate will be a strange and wondrous journey, and the body farm’s work can, perhaps, best be summed up by none other than Mr. Grissom, who once said that getting to the evidence means having to destroy the evidence.

Then again, he also said that “dead men don’t ride roller coasters,” so the analogy only goes so far.

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