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Park points
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.

1887: 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 Park.


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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 parks.

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 opened.

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 Sites in Canada.

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 areas over the next five years.


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