Parks Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

A History of Canada's National Parks
Volume I


George Bernard Shaw quoted the German philosopher Hegel that "People and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it".

Henry Ford said flatly, "History is bunk!"

Why then, should there be a "History of the National Parks of Canada?"

Shaw and Ford may have been famous, but they were not necessarily right. Winston Churchill insisted, "We cannot say 'the past is past' without surrendering the future". History helps us remember the past, and sometimes inspires the future.

History teaches not only that our predecessors made mistakes which we would do well to avoid, but it also records that men and women with vision and dedication have been able to accomplish great and enduring results.

The history of the National Parks of Canada is a story of adventure and achievement whose rewards are a perpetual heritage to be enjoyed by all Canadians, now and in the future.

The author of this history, W. Fergus Lothian, has drawn on his own experience and knowledge acquired during almost 40 years as a Parks Canada employee, and on the records and recollections of Parks employees, past and present.

This volume is a reference document which describes the administrative, legislative and political circumstances surrounding the creation and development of the National Parks of Canada.

Among the principal figures in this history are the persons and organization whose efforts have made Canada's National Park System what it is today.

This unabridged limited edition of the history of the National Parks of Canada has been produced primarily for internal distribution within Parks Canada and to meet the needs of serious students as a basic reference document. Shorter versions, intended for a wider public, will be published in the future.

Canada's national park system represents one of the amazing social developments of the present century. From a single reserve of ten square miles, established in 1885 to preserve for public use a small part of the magnificent Canadian Rockies, it has grown to a system of 28 national parks that includes outstanding natural areas in every province and both territories.

As individuals, Canadians are learning that the quality of life which we seek for ourselves and our children cannot be achieved through material success alone. We need places to relate to the natural world, where each of us can sense the link between ourselves and the world we live in.

The Lothian History of the National Parks of Canada will, I am sure, be a valued and enduring reference point for all those who share the objectives of Parks Canada to preserve the national parks of Canada for the people of Canada for their benefit, education and enjoyment, to be maintained and made use of, so as to leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.

The Hon. Warren Allmand,
Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs,
the Minister responsible for Parks Canada

Main street Banff 1887

previous Next