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Significant events in the history of Parks Canada
1885: The national park
system is unofficially born as an area of 26 km²containing the Cave and
Basin Hot Springs on the northern slope of Sulphur Mountain was set aside
for public use. This area would become what is
now known as Banff National Park in Alberta.
A bill to establish Canada’s first national park iss introduced
in the House of Commons in April. On June 23, the Rocky Mountain Park Act
is passed, officially creating Banff National Park.
1904: Following Banff’s
establishment, three more mountain parks (Yoho, Glacier and Waterton Lakes)
were created by 1895. In 1904, the first
national park east of the Rockies was created: St. Lawrence Islands National
1906: In an effort to prevent the extinction of wild
bison, the federal government bought North America’s last wild herd from Michel Pablo
in Montana. They were taken to Elk Island and Buffalo National Parks. The
herd thrived, but in Buffalo National Park the bison became overpopulated
and suffered from disease and overgrazing. In 1921, "surplus" animals
were slaughtered, sparking public outrage. Following that, as a temporary
solution, many animals were taken north to Wood Buffalo National Park,
established in 1922. By 1939, the bison in Buffalo National Park were sick
and starving, and in the winter of 1940-41, the animals were slaughtered
and the park turned over to the military. However, the reintroduction was
quite successful; by 1939, the o riginal 700 animals had produced 27,000
descendants, and the bison’s future in Canada was secured.
1911: The Dominion Park
Branch of the Department of the Interior is formed in Canada, the world’s
first distinct office for national parks.
1914: Canada’s first
national historic park is named at Fort Howe (Dominion Park) in Saint John,
N.B. The park was later returned to the
city in 1930 to become a civic park.
1930: The National Parks
Act is passed. The Act sets the guiding philosophy for the management
of national parks, which are "dedicated to the
people of Canada, for their benefit, education and enjoyment." This
Act still stands as the legislative protection for Canada’s national
1930: Menissawok National
Park in the Cypress Hills is closed due to the success of the antelope
reserve there. It and several other parks were
established in 1922 to allow for the recovery of antelope, which wildlife
experts predicted would be extinct by the end of the century if nothing
was done. By 1946, with almost 30,000 free-ranging antelope, the last
of these parks closed.
1936: The Atlantic provinces’ first
national park, Cape Breton Highlands, is established.
1941: The first major
restoration of an historic site undertaken by the National Park Branch,
the Port Royal Habitation of
1605, was officially
1976: Canada signed the
1972 Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural
Heritage (World Heritage Convention), which
committed the federal government to the protection of World Heritage
1978: Nahanni National
Park Reserve becomes Canada’s
first national park to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
1984: The Canadian Heritage
Rivers System was created. The program recognizes the country’s rivers
that have significant natural, cultural and recreational value. In 1986,
the French River in Ontario and the Alsek
River in the Yukon became the first rivers designated under the program.
1987: Canada’s first National Marine Park, Ontario’s
Fathom Five, is established.
2002: Prime Minister Jean
Chrétien announces the
federal government plans to create 10 more parks and 5 new marine conservation
the next five years.