A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011

A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011

A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011

A Century of Parks Canada, 1911-2011

Synopsis

When Canada created a Dominion Parks Branch in 1911, it became the first country in the world to establish an agency devoted to managing its national parks. Over the past century this agency, now Parks Canada, has been at the centre of important debates about the place of nature in Canadian nationhood and relationships between Canada's diverse ecosystems and its communities. Today, Parks Canada manages over forty parks and reserves totaling over 200,000 square kilometers and featuring a dazzling variety of landscapes, and is recognized as a global leader in the environmental challenges of protected places. Its history is a rich repository of experience, of lessons learned - critical for making informed decisions about how to sustain the environmental and social health of our national parks.

Excerpt

Claire Elizabeth Campbell, Department of History, Dalhousie University

In May of 1911, the House of Commons was preparing to vote on Bill 85, a bill “respecting forest reserves and parks.” It had been a busy enough session for the House that spring, and this particular bill was hardly the most important on the docket. in fact, the Toronto Globe counted it as one of a series – along with raising postal workers' salaries and standardizing bushel weights – designed “with a view of giving the Senate something to do,” while Members of Parliament prepared to lock horns over the subject of free trade with the United States. When forest reserves and parks were discussed, MPs focused on the wealth of timber contained on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, under the rule of the Department of the Interior. There was little discussion about national parks, which were still very much a novelty, and there was no mention of who would run them. the bill simply allowed Cabinet to appoint someone to oversee the forest reserves and to make any decisions necessary for the “protection, care and management” of public parks. But shortly before the vote, Alexander Haggart of Winnipeg rose in protest. Was Parliament, he asked, really about to “divest ourselves of the power of governing a kingdom,” by handing it to an unknown “hired official”? His . . .

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