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June 3, 2011

Parks Canada celebrates its centennial

There were a few Canadian Parks before 1911 but their presence was not formalized until May 1911.  The centennial has had some celebrations and more are pending.  Most of us are familiar with our many Provincial Parks especially Algonquin and nearby ones like Restoule and Marten River. 

Parks Canada was established to oversee existing parks and create new ones in 1911.  There are now 42 national parks, 167 historical sites and 4 marine conservation areas and other things like the gravesites of former Prime Ministers. 

The World Wildlife Fund International honoured Parks Canada last week for its outstanding achievement emphasizing that our parks are the envy of the world. A new parcel, 11,137 hectares of land is being added this year on the western boundary of Saskatchewan’s National Park in a gift from a local family. 

Before 1911 Banff and Jasper existed and Banff is the best known today.  The recreational mandate charged overtime to include environmental ecology and protection.  Nine of the 10 least visited parks were created after 1970 for these primary purpose of the protection of the environment. 

One source says that it would take 4 years for parks created in the last 20 years to equal Banff attendance on a good day. 

Banff had 3.13 million visitors last season and all parks had 20.7 million last year – down a bit.  If you wish to visit Quttinirpaaq in Nunavit check their website.  They had 2 visitors last year.  The plane flights are $15,000 in and $15,000 out.  This park like some others has a primary purpose of environmental preservation. 

During the last election the Conservatives pledged to create the first national park close to a big city.  It will be in the Rouge Valley east of Toronto and will be the first national park easily accessible by southern Ontarians.  There are many issues to be resolved but it looks like a go. 

The Parks provide quality jobs for many Canadians.  Forty five hundred staff including wardens, scientists, interpreters, historians, and town guides oversee 377,000 square kilometres.  There is a 690 million dollar budget. 

The historical aspects of the parks is not neglected especially the aboriginal component.  There is also a program that teaches camping skills to the beginner to augment attendance. 

 New 59 cent stamp celebrating Parks Canada 1911-2011.

Centennial Stamp and Coin 

Canada Post has a new 59 cent stamp out celebrating the event.  It is reminiscent of the old postcards encouraging visits to the parks.  Four million stamps are available in your local post offices as is the new silver dollar coin. 

The beautiful coin comes in various packages and runs about $60 and is a real masterpiece and keepsake. Google the Royal Canadian Mint. Your Post Office may have some. Powassan had 2 when I checked. 

New Book 

Dr. Claire Campbell, historian and author has published a new book “A Century of Parks Canada” as a part of the centennial. 

An excellent reference on parks including those in Ontario is the book Changing Parks, The History of, Future, and Cultural Context of Parks and Heritage Landscapes.  National Heritage/Natural History Press – a series of essays compiled by John S. Marsh & Bruce w. Hodgins.  Hodgins has written extensively on Temagami among other things and taught at Trent University. 

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