Canadian Camping Week Planned For May

The Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC) will officially launch the 2015 camping season in Canada by hosting the inaugural Canadian Camping Week from May 19-24, 2015.

The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The newly opened Glacial Skywalk over the Athabasca Glacier (Jasper National Park, Alberta) lets you experience waterfalls, wildlife, fossils, and more on an exciting cliff-edge walkway that leads to a platform where glass is all that separates you from a 918-foot drop. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Canadian Camping Week will feature special events and participation from CCRVC member campgrounds across the country.

Campground associations from British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, representing about 1400 campgrounds, will work with the CCRVC to celebrate the Canadian camping experience.

Parks Canada, the Camping and RVing in BC Coalition, Go RVing Canada, the Canadian Recreational Vehicle Association (CRVA) and Recreation Vehicle Dealer Association of Canada (RVDAC) are also supporting this exciting, first ever event of its kind in the camping industry.

The 2015 Canadian Camping Week will showcase the best of what Canada’s camping sector has to offer.

Special events will include a discounted weekend camping rate, fishing contests, jamborees, and bonfires.

The beautiful Okanagan Valley of southern British Columbia is a summer tourism mecca. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The beautiful Okanagan Valley of southern British Columbia is a summer tourism mecca. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

“We want every campground across the country to participate in promoting the camping and RV lifestyles,” said Maryse Catellier, president of CCRVC.

“Join us in showcasing what Canadian camping is all about.”

The first-ever Canadian Camping Week is scheduled to run from May 19-24. The week will conclude with participating campgrounds across the country offering two nights of camping (May 22-23) at $50 plus tax.

“Campground participation in the Canadian Camping Week is free, and 300 campgrounds are already registered,” said Catellier.

Participating campgrounds and RV Parks are required to offer either two nights for $50 plus tax on May 22-23 or organize an event to promote camping in Canada during the course of the Canadian Camping Week.

Interested campgrounds need to register by March 31. To register, visit and download the registration form.

Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Rocky Mountain Goat in the Canadian Rockies. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The CCRVC is also organizing a Fall Appreciation Weekend planned for September 11-12, 2015 (two nights, Friday-Saturday) following Labor Day.

Participation in the Fall promotion is optional but participating campgrounds are required to commit to offer two nights of camping for $50 plus tax.

The goals of the Canadian Camping Week in May and the fall promotion weekend are to:

Promote the camping sector and the camping/RVing lifestyles.


Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC)

CCRVCThe three major players in the Canadian RV and Camping industry joined forces to create in May 2013 a new association: the Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC).

CCRVC represents the RV Manufacturers Association, the RV Dealers Association, and the campground owners associations from across Canada.

Address: 2425 Narcisse-Perodeau, Québec (Quebec) G1T 2J4

Phone: (418) 455-8548


Canadian Camping Week

From May 19-24 the Canadian Camping and RV Council (CCRVC) will host the inaugural Canadian Camping Week and officially launch the 2015 camping season in Canada. The Canadian Camping Week will feature special events and participation from CCRVC member campgrounds across the country.


Worth Pondering…

Hysterically funny, amazingly talented people. That’s what I think of when I think of Canada. That, and cold beer. And mountains.
—Richard Patrick

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How Stupid Can You Be?

How stupid can you be?

A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)
A photo showing people in a vehicle feeding a bear on Highway 11 near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19. (Jeff Bingham/Facebook)

How can anyone be stupid enough to feed wieners, pepperoni sticks, and bread to a black bear?

That’s the question wildlife officials are asking following an incident on the David Thompson Highway (Highway 11) near the north gate to Banff National Park on May 19.

Jeff Bingham, a wildlife photographer witnessed the event as it unfolded.

“Confronting people is not the answer,” he wrote on Facebook, where he posted a photo that shows the license plate on the vehicle.

“So I found a Parks Canada person, and reported it.”

Parks Canada investigated the incident and determined it took place about 5.5 kilometres (3.4 miles) outside the north gate to Banff National Park, the Calgary Herald reports.

In a national park, feeding wildlife carries a maximum fine of $25,000. Officers in provincial parks and recreation areas can also charge people up to $250 for the act.

But there are no provincial laws that would allow Fish and Wildlife officers to issue a fine in this incident.

“It is certainly not something our officers condone,” Brendan Cox, spokesman for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, told the Herald.

This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/
This black bear wants his food and he is waiting patiently. DO NOT FEED BEARS! (Source: Thomas J/

“Outside of a park, there is no specific violation that refers to feeding wildlife in this way.

“Officers will try to discern the license plate and the owners of the vehicle so that the people involved in this case can be educated about how irresponsible it is to feed bears, or any wildlife for that matter.”

The discrepancy concerns those who work to reduce conflicts between people and wildlife.

“That worries me, because now people will think they can get away with that,” said Kim Titchener, director of Bow Valley Wildsmart.

“We don’t want people feeding wildlife…they might think it’s fun and it’s cute and they get this great picture, but they’ve killed that animal. They are responsible for that animal’s death now.”

Provincial officials said they will keep an eye on the bear to determine whether it has become habituated.

“If it learns to associate people with food, then it’s possible it could be approaching people for food in the future,” Cox explained to the Herald.

“Officers will monitor the situation and reassess it if there’s any future incidents.”

Should the bear get into trouble again, it could be captured and either euthanized or relocated.

Although incidents of feeding wildlife are happening less frequently, there have been a few high-profile cases in recent years, both within and outside of the protected areas.

“I don’t know where people are missing that message,” said Titchener.

“This is a long-standing message since the ’70s.

“Don’t feed the wildlife.”

An expert with Parks Canada told the Herald it could be a bear that officials have handled in Banff National Park.

Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Remember: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear (Courtesy: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

“In the photo, they are saying there was a green ear tag,” said Brianna Burley, human/wildlife conflict specialist with Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay national parks.

“That does fit with a bear that we did tag around Saskatchewan Crossing last summer and it wouldn’t be unheard of at all for a bear to wander.”

She was concerned about the bear’s welfare if it was fed along the road.

“They start becoming food conditioned,” explained Burley.

“That association between people and food leads to aggressive behavior from bears, which ultimately can lead to injury to people.

“It leaves us for very little room for any management decision and can very often lead to the destruction of those animals.”

Burley said they are noticing more incidents of people feeding wildlife within the park.

“When this came across my desk and we were trying to figure out where it happened, I wasn’t surprised by it,” she said. “Over the past few years, we’ve had more and more reports of this and I am not sure why that’s happening.”

Burley also reminded people to report any bear sightings within the park to Banff dispatch rather than just post it on social media sites.

The Banff dispatch number is 403-762-1470.

Worth Pondering…

Life is hard; it’s harder if you’re stupid.

―John Wayne

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Parks Canada Introduces oTENTik

Think that you might enjoy camping, but prefer the comforts of home too much to sleep on the ground in a tent?

Designed and made in Canada, Parks Canada’s oTENTik tents offer visitors a comfortable, gentle camping experience, ideal for new and seasoned campers alike. (Source: Parks Canada)
Designed and made in Canada, Parks Canada’s oTENTik tents offer visitors a comfortable, gentle camping experience, ideal for new and seasoned campers alike. (Source: Parks Canada)

Parks Canada has found a convenient way for people who prefer to camp in comfort to enjoy an overnight in the great outdoors. Parks Canada’s new option for you is the oTENTik.

As Canada’s population ages, becomes more diverse, more urbanized, more technology-oriented and as the way people travel changes, visitors’ needs and expectations related to accommodations offered in National Parks, National Historic Sites, and National Marine Conservation Areas are changing, according to a Parks Canada news release.

To adapt to these changes, Parks Canada is introducing a new camping option, the oTENTik.

Parks Canada – oTENTik tents offer a unique blend of homey comfort and a taste of outdoor adventure. It’s an ideal way for visitors who want to discover the joys of camping but prefer the comfort of a bed and a campsite already set up.

This “turn-key” camping option is a great way to introduce camping to new and urban Canadians as well as to reintroduce camping to those who remember the experiences of their youth but are no longer equipped for camping.

All oTENTik sites will be equipped with a table, chairs, and three beds to accommodate up to six visitors, with ample storage under beds to keep belongings out of the way. (Source: Parks Canada)
All oTENTik sites will be equipped with a table, chairs, and three beds to accommodate up to six visitors, with ample storage under beds to keep belongings out of the way. (Source: Parks Canada)

Each Parks Canada – oTENTik tent is made with wooden frames and has a wood floor and canvas walls in a 19-foot by 24-foot space.

The oTENTik tent has been described as a cross between a prospector’s tent and a cabin in the woods.

Each unit tent is equipped with table and chairs and two queen-sized beds and a double bed and can accommodate up to six people. There is ample storage space under the beds to store additional equipment and supplies and to keep personal belongings out of the way.

In sites where the camping offer spans four seasons, the tents are heated either by propane stove or wood stove.

Campsites offer parking for up to two vehicles, a picnic table, and a fire pit.

Visitors need only bring their food, personal effects, and sleeping bags.

“It’s a new visitor experience in the park,” said Judy Glowinski, Parks Canada’s product development specialist in Banff. “I’m totally stoked about it.”

Parks Canada plans to erect 20 oTENTik tents in Banff and Kootney national parks this summer and plans to open another 10 in Jasper next year.

In Banff National Park, there will be 10 tents available along the shoreline at Two Jack Lakeside campground on the Lake Minnewanka loop road. Another 10 tents will be set up at Redstreak campground, near Radium Hot Springs, in Kootenay National Park.

Parks Canada will invest $455,000 for installation and infrastructure costs to bring the 10 oTENTiks to Banff National Park (similar costs are estimated in Kootenay), but they expect to recover those costs with the camping fees within three or four years.

It will cost $150 a night to rent one of the tents in Banff, which will have electricity. Kootenay’s tents, which won’t have power, will be $145.

Ten more oTENTik tents will arrive in Jasper National Park, where there’s already one prototype available, in 2014.

Campers can book oTENTik tents through the Parks Canada reservation system as they become available.

New “tent-like” structure available through Parks Canada. (Source: Parks Canada)
New “tent-like” structure available through Parks Canada. (Source: Parks Canada)

“Parks Canada is thinking on its feet right now with this project,” said Monica Andreeff, executive director of Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment.

“It’s a way of moving forward and recognizing that the target market has shifted to urban people who might live in small condominiums without room to store camping supplies or people who just don’t understand how to do all of the stuff that our parents may have shown us on camping trips.”

Made in Canada, Parks Canada said oTENTik will provide visitors with a comfortable camping experience.


Parks Canada


Worth Pondering…

And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.
—Dave Barry

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Parks Canada Introduces Learn to Camp

One of the best ways to discover some of Canada’s most beautiful natural heritage areas is by spending the night in one of Parks Canada’s many campgrounds across the country.

learn_to_camp_home_engStarry nights, breathtaking views, tons of activities, and a chance to bond with your family around an open campfire…Let these experiences inspire you at Parks Canada-operated campgrounds.

Parks Canada, in collaboration with Mountain Equipment Co-op, is inviting young urban families and new Canadians to a first-time camping experience to learn about camping basics such as how to set up a tent, how to cook outdoors, what to pack, and other real Parks Canada and Mountain Equipment Co-op staff tips to make your camping adventure a success.

“The Learn to Camp initiative will provide Canadians, especially those living in urban centers away from Canada’s national treasures, the necessary skills and knowledge to have an amazing experience while connecting with our country’s nature and culture,” said the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s environment minister and minister responsible for Parks Canada.

“This memorable journey of hands-on experiences will inspire Canadians to get engaged in the protection of these places for the benefit of future generations.”

Learn-to camp events will take place across the country over the summer with main events scheduled on June 22 and 23.

This initiative is aimed at introducing young families and new Canadians in urban centers to the joys of camping and related activities.

Parks Canada is working with different immigration and urban outreach associations across the country to invite new Canadians and young families to participate in Learn to Camp events.

If you dream of camping in Canada's national parks, the Learn To Camp app is for you! Find tips, advice and all the information you need to plan and enjoy your first camping trip. And if you are already an experienced camper, you'll love the recipes, checklists and insider tips too.
If you dream of camping in Canada’s national parks, the Learn To Camp app is for you! Find tips, advice and all the information you need to plan and enjoy your first camping trip. And if you are already an experienced camper, you’ll love the recipes, checklists and insider tips too.

The goal is to gather an average of 100 participants per location. The Learn to Camp experiences will occur in or near an urban centre, and for locations that are further away transportation will be arranged for participants in certain cases.

“Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has a deep passion for the outdoors and a long history of inspiring Canadians to camp as a way to explore the backcountry”, said Senja Palonen, MEC’s Community and Envoy Program Coordinator.

“Through partnerships like the Learn-to-camp initiative, MEC and Parks Canada will help more Canadians discover their love for the outdoors while learning the basics of camping in a fun and engaging environment.”

Learn to Camp features workshops on camping related skills like how to set up a tent or cook in the outdoors. Participants have the opportunity to enjoy fun interpretive programs and other Parks Canada activities. Spend the night and enjoy the experience of camping.

For additional information, visit the Learn to Camp section under Learn and Discover on the Parks Canada Website (SEE details below)

Learn to Camp Dates and Locations

June 15-16

  • Lévis Forts National Historic Site (Quebec)
  • Lachine Canal National Historic Site (Quebec)

June 22-23

  • Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site (Nova Scotia)
  • Prince Edward Island National Park (Prince Edward Island)
  • Rouge National Urban Park (Ontario)
  • Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba)
  • Prince Albert National Park (Saskatchewan)
  • Yoho National Park (British Columbia)
  • Fort Langley National Historic Site (British Columbia)
  • Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site (British Columbia)

July 6-7

  • Elk Island National Park (Alberta)
  • July 20 (Day Activity)
  • The Forks National Historic Site (Manitoba)
  • Cape Spear National Historic Site (Newfoundland)

July 20-21

  • Fundy National Park (New Brunswick)

July 27-28

  • La Mauricie National Park (Quebec)

July 30-31

  • Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba)

August 24-25

  • Signal Hill National Historic Site (Newfoundland)

Phone 1-888-773-8888 to register and to get more information.


Parks Canada


Worth Pondering…

We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.
—Konrad Adenaur

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Camping Without a Car or RV

A non-profit group is making camping without a car possible with a regular bus service between Toronto and key national and provincial parks in Ontario.

Starting June 29 (2012), the Ontario Parkbus Initiative will be running buses between Toronto and popular campgrounds, canoe access points, and backpacking trailheads in Algonquin, Killarney, and Grundy Lake provincial parks as well as Bruce Peninsula National Park, according to a news release.

Started as a grassroots initiative by two York University graduates and outdoor enthusiasts, the program runs in cooperation with Ontario Parks and Parks Canada.

Parkbus started as a private initiative in 2010 by a group of outdoor enthusiasts, with the goal of making outdoor destinations in Ontario accessible by bus.

After getting in touch with Mountain Equipment Coop, that provided them with an opportunity to conduct market research in their Toronto store, they created a plan and presented it to Ontario Parks.

Parkbus passengers are being picked up at Lake of Two Rivers Campground in Algonquin Park after a weekend of camping. Photo taken by Parkbus staff.

It started small with a pilot project to connect Toronto and Algonquin Provincial Park on a few select weekends. After meeting with Algonquin’s team and working out the details, they partnered with Hammond Transportation to make the service a reality in the summer 2010.

In 2011 Parkbus expanded its cooperation with Ontario Parks, and received sponsorships and grants, including Tourism Development Fund grant from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism. This critical support allowed them to expand the Algonquin service and to start developing new routes to Grundy Lake and Killarney Provincial Parks.

In 2012, Ontario Trillium Foundation made a key commitment to Parkbus project with a two year grant, allowing the initiative to expand and grow as it pursues a financially sustainable, long-growth model that will benefit people of Ontario, the province’s tourism industry, and natural areas that it now connects with Toronto.

Financial backing is provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, along with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

“Parkbus is bringing social, environmental, and economic benefits to our province” said Steve Bruno, partnership coordinator at Ontario Tourism.

Buses are operated by Muskoka’s Hammond Transportation, with one-way adult tickets ranging between $35 and $40.

During the 2012 summer camping season, Ontario Parkbus Initiative will be running buses between Toronto and the following popular campgrounds, canoe access points, and backpacking trailheads:

  • Algonguin Provincial Park – Bigger than the State of Delaware, Algonquin is Ontario’s most popular park and a world-class destination offering adventurers and comfort seekers alike their ultimate outdoor experience
  • Killarney and Grundy Lake Provincial Parks – Backpack the famous La Cloche Silhouette trail in Killarney, marvel at snow-white quartzite ridges from your canoe and your campsite, or enjoy a day away from it all at Grundy Lake
  • Bruce Peninsula National Park – UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve with sheer cliffs plunging down to deep blue waters of Georgian Bay, underground caves, orchids, hiking trails, and cozy resort town of Tobermory



Parkbus is a project of Transportation Options (T.O.), a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering sustainable tourism and transportation in Ontario.

Since 1992, T.O. has worked on numerous successful projects, including award-winning Bike Train Initiative and the Welcome Cyclists Network.

Mountain Equipment Co-op and the Ontario Ecotourism Society are the collaborative partners of the Ontario Parkbus Initiative.

Address: 850 Coxwell Avenue, Toronto ON M4C 5R1

Phone: (800) 928-7101


Worth Pondering…

In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.

—John Muir

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Parks Canada Honored as World’s First National Park Service

The Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment Minister and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, Friday (January 27) commemorated the importance of the Creation of the Dominion Parks Branch and the birth of Parks Canada as an event of national historic significance, according to a news release.

“Since it was established a century ago as the Dominion Parks Branch, Parks Canada has worked tirelessly to protect Canada’s diverse national heritage and encouraged Canadians everywhere to appreciate, experience, and enjoy all of Canada’s national treasures,” said Minister Kent.

“The plaque formally recognizes Parks Canada’s ongoing contributions to Canada’s heritage year after year as well as its own historical significance as the world’s first national park service.”

The designation commemorates Parks Canada’s 100 years of world leadership in conservation and tourism.

Founded on May 19, 1911 as the Dominion Parks Service, Parks Canada now manages one of the most extensive networks of protected national heritage places in the world, encompassing 167 national historic sites, 42 national parks, and four national marine conservation areas.

The plaque will be located in the Cascades of Time Garden on the grounds of the Parks Canada Banff Administration Building in Banff National Park.

“As the Minister for Parks Canada, my objective is to enable all Canadians to have meaningful opportunities to connect with Canada’s treasured places in order to build a stronger Canada, now and into the future,” said Minister Kent.

Jasper National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Created in 1919, and supported by Parks Canada, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada advise the Minister of the Environment regarding the national historic significance of places, persons, and events that have marked Canada’s history.

Parks Canada manages a nation-wide network of national historic sites that make up a rich tapestry of Canada’s cultural heritage and which offers visitors the opportunity for real and inspiring discoveries.

Creation of the Dominion Parks Branch

Canada established the first national parks service in the world in 1911. Under the leadership of James B. Harkin, the Dominion Parks Branch became a leading conservation body, both nationally and internationally.

Influenced by the rise of a conservation movement and the rise of tourism as a significant part of Canadian economic development, the Dominion Parks Branch linked together exceptional natural and historic Canadian landscapes, giving them a shared identity as “Dominion Parks.”

Harkin’s work culminated in the passage of the National Parks Act in 1930, and left a legacy that is the basis of the modern system of national parks and national historic sites that welcomes millions of visitors annually.

Since the 1885 creation of what is known today as Banff National Park, Canada’s earliest parks illustrate the recognition of the enduring beauty of such places and their appeal for public enjoyment and benefit.

Rocky Mountain Sheep are a common sight in Banff and Jasper national parks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Under Sir Wilfrid Laurier’s government, The Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act passed on May 19, 1911. The act provided for the creation of a new branch to oversee Dominion Parks. Minister of the Interior, Frank Oliver, brought this bill through parliament, promoting the need for a parks service on the grounds that existing parks were lacking appropriate oversight and administration. Shortly thereafter, Oliver appointed his personal secretary and former journalist, James B. Harkin to the position of Commissioner.

In expanding the system, the Dominion Parks Branch looked beyond the natural realm and into the historical, adding “historic parks” to its list of protected places.

Fort Howe in Saint John, New Brunswick was the first historic park acquired in 1914. To assure integrity for the selection of historic places, a special arms-length advisory board, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, was created in 1919.

Wapiti (elk) grazing in Canada's mountain parks. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Plaque Text
In 1911, Canada established the first national parks service in the world. What began as a cluster of parks in the Rocky Mountains gradually became a national system, fostering tourism and economic growth while upholding conservation ideals. In 1914, the definition of a “Dominion Park” was expanded to include significant historic places, laying the groundwork for a modern system of iconic national parks and national historic sites, which welcome millions of visitors annually, and initiating a tradition of national and international leadership in the management of protected places that continues to this day.


Parks Canada


Worth Pondering…

Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another.


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Happy Birthday Parks Canada!

The world may scratch its collective head when it comes to listing facts about Canada, but—at the very least—most know it’s a lot bigger than the spot they call home.

The Netherlands can easily fit into Lake Huron—with ample room to splash around.

Jasper National Park, Alberta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s plenty to explore—Canada’s cities are new, dynamic, and evolving—but it’s the beauty of the massive forests, towering mountains, pristine lakes, and the land’s sheer breadth that enthralls many visitors.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Parks Canada and Alan Latourelle, chief executive officer of the Parks Canada Agency, is inviting visitors from around the world—to enjoy the nation’s 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, including nine canals, and four national marine conservation areas that stretch from British Columbia on the West Coast to Newfoundland on the East.

“Canada! We have more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on Earth,” the beer commercial shouted over and over during last year’s Vancouver Olympics Games, to a steady backdrop of national park scenes. And the locals all raised their glasses, for Canadians love their national parks.

Much of the development of Parks Canada has taken place during the past two decades, and the intent of the parks system has expanded to embrace more and more land in the name of conservation—not necessarily visitation.

Today, some of the parks are home to animals which have become very rare or endangered in most parts of their natural range. For example, Elk Island National Park in Alberta is home to a genetically pure herd of rare wood bison. In March 2011, 30 of these animals were shipped to Russia. And most of us know about the transfer of grey wolves from Jasper to Yellowstone National Park.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia (Credit:

Parks Canada has have restored bison and the black-footed ferret, thought to be extinct, into Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan.

The largest park is the Wood Buffalo National Park that stretches across Alberta and the Northwest Territories. At 17,000 square miles, it’s about the size of New Jersey, Delaware, and Connecticut, combined.

The smallest park is the 3.4-square-mile St. Lawrence Islands National Park in Ontario.

The most visited park in Canada in 2010, not surprisingly, was Banff, with a whopping 3,132,086 visitors—and over 3 million cameras. On the other hand, Quttinirpaaq on Ellesmere Island had just two visitors. That’s a lot of per-person space, as the park measures 14,585 square miles. And about a dozen visitors found their way to Tutktut Nogait National Park, which is about 105 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

As Parks Canada celebrates its centennial, it also faces challenges.

Eight out of 10 Canadians now live in urban centers, and a growing number have never visited a national park.

In the last 10 years, there has been a decline in attendance at the parks. In 2001, 22.4 million people visited the parks, compared with 20.7 million last year.

The agency has begun to address that decline with new advertising campaigns.

The organization has a lot planned to help celebrate the centennial including two days—July 1 and 16—that will offer free, one-day admission to all parks and historic sites.

A Famous Forts Weekend will be held from August 19 to 21 featuring festivities at many of the forts under the agency’s umbrella. The weekend will feature music, dancing, food, and—of course—the signature 100-gun salute.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. (Credit: Parks Canada)

My Parks Pass, a Canada-wide program, will provide all Grade 8 students free access (for one year) to any national park, national historic site, or national marine conservation area administered by Parks Canada.

Considered an international leader, the agency is celebrating successes at the same time as it works to attract a new generation of Canadians.

Some citizenship ceremonies take place in national parks and historic sites to introduce new Canadians to them.

“How can we continue to have our places be meaningful and really have Canadians connect to them?” asks Campbell, “That’s our biggest challenge.”

Parks Canada is working on nine new parks. The goal is to represent Canada’s 39 natural regions through the parks system; to capture a comprehensive representation of Canada’s flora, fauna and geology.

Happy Birthday Parks Canada!

Just the Facts

National Parks by province/territory

British Columbia: 7

Alberta: 4.5*

Ontario: 5

Northwest Territories: 3.5*

Nunavut: 4

Newfoundland and Labrador: 3

Quebec: 3

Yukon Territory: 3

Manitoba: 2

New Brunswick: 2

Nova Scotia: 2

Saskatchewan: 2

Prince Edward Island: 1

* Wood Buffalo National Park straddles the Alberta-Northwest Territories border

For more information visit parkscanada.

Worth Pondering…
Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity…
— John Muir

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The World’s First National Parks Turn 100

What was the first country in the world to establish a national parks system?

Jasper National Park, Alberta. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you guessed the United States or a European country such as Austria, Switzerland, Norway, or Sweden you would be wrong.

This year, Parks Canada, the first national parks service in the world, celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Banff was discovered accidentally in 1883, when explorers fell through the roof of a cave into a warm, sulphur-water spring below. Sixteen miles around Sulphur Mountain and the Cave and Basin, were set aside as a National Park in 1885, predating Parks Canada by 26 years.

Other sites were added until 1911, when the Dominion Parks Branch of government was formed.

In 1911, when J.B. (Bunny) Harkin was appointed Canada’s first commissioner of national parks, he thought “the word park seemed a very small name for so great a thing.”

The number of visitors to the Canadian Rockies at mountain parks now known as Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Glacier, and Waterton Lakes was increasing and the federal government felt it needed to protect the magnificence of the region.

Moraine Lake and Valley of the Ten Peaks, Banff National Park, Alberta. (Credit: Parks Canada)

“Wonder, reverence, the feeling that one is nearer the mystery of things—that is what one feels in places of such sublime beauty,” wrote Harkin.

Today, Parks Canada administers 42 national parks, 167 national historic sites, including nine canals, and four national marine conservation areas.

More than 4,500 wardens, guides, scientists, and interpreters employed by Parks Canada oversee more than 145,000 square miles of federal land.

One hundred eighty countries now have national parks. The first, in 1872 in the United States, was Yellowstone National Park, which was “too big and too beautiful to belong to any private individual,” according to one of its proponents.

The Parks Canada mandate has not changed: “Dedicated to the people of Canada, for their benefit, education and enjoyment … to leave unimpaired for future generations.”

The national parks were direct results of Canada’s first national railroad, the Canadian Pacific.

Visitors arrived by rail and stayed in hotels built by Canadian Pacific Railway.

“The idea was not conservation, it was tourism,” says Jonathan France, director of the historical research branch of Parks Canada. “The main objective was an economic one, to show a return on the significant public investment in building a transcontinental railway.”

Born in 1875 in Vankleek Hill, Ontario, Harkin worked as a journalist and a political secretary before being named parks commissioner, which he remained until 1936.

Chateau Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta. (Credit:

He promoted national parks for outdoor recreation and as a source of valuable tourist dollars. He built roads for public access. But Harkin also developed the idea of conservation, noting that man “is constantly changing the face of nature, cutting and burning the forests, plowing up the wildflowers, killing off the wild animals and birds, damming and polluting rivers, draining and diverting lakes.”

In 1915, the agency designated three pronghorn antelope sanctuaries in Saskatchewan and Alberta, and in 1917 the Migratory Birds Protection Act was passed. This established protection of wildlife on federal lands as part of Parks’ mandate and led, among other initiatives, to the creation of Point Pelee National Park in southern Ontario.

In the 1920s, Harkin was often in conflict with business interests that wanted to exploit coal, timber, and water in parks, leading him to enshrine their inviolability in the 1930 National Parks Act.

Foreign emissaries began visiting Canada to study Harkin’s methods. By the time he retired in 1936, Harkin had built a system of 13 protected areas that touched nearly every province.

Recognized internationally as the Father of National Parks, he remains little-known in his homeland. A 16-page booklet, containing excerpts from Harkin’s notes, was posthumously published in 1957. The Origin and Meaning of the National Parks of Canada, a seminal and lyrical gem, closes with this: “Man is a restless animal. He is constantly changing the face of nature. Even the face of Canada has seen many changes in the last 50 years. What will it look like a hundred years from now?”

Note: This is the first of a two-part series on Canada’s National Parks and its 100th anniversary.

Worth Pondering…
Keep close to Nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
— John Muir

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