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James B. Harkin James B. Harkin fathered the concept of unspoiled yet publicly accessible protected areas
© Library and Archives Canada

By 1911, Canada had five national parks. Three of those early national parks were along the Canadian Pacific Railway line, and wealthy European tourists, carried from the eastern part of the country by elegant trains, delighted in the stunning scenery.

The Canadian government soon realized that a national park designation alone was not sufficient to tap into the full potential of these splendid and unspoiled areas, and thus created the Dominion Parks Service.

Born in 1875, James B. Harkin became its first Commissioner. Harkin believed that national parks could help rejuvenate Canadians who were harried by the crowding and bustle of Canada’s burgeoning cities. He developed a wide framework that was to encompass the following themes: access to all, wildlife conservation, the need to promote the nation’s history, the inviolability of parks, and the benefits of tourism to the nation.

1911 in Canada
Robert Laird Borden replaces Sir Wilfrid Laurier as Prime Minister of Canada
Population: just over 7 million
Average life expectancy: 52 years
Less than 1% of families have access to a car
Less than 8% of Canadians have a telephone
95% of all births take place at home


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