Activities and experiences
It's All In the Name
Discover Parks Canada places where a site's magic and poetry are reflected in its name
Are you irresistibly drawn to the names of places that bring to mind originality, history and discovery? Parks Canada's team is proud to be the guides, guardians, storytellers and partners of national historical sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas with uniquely poetic names, rich with symbolic meaning.
Auyuittuq - ow-you-eet-took
Auyuittuq, an Inuit word meaning “the land that never melts”.© Parks Canada
Auyuittuq epitomizes the majestic beauty of the Arctic. Imposing landscape of jagged mountain peaks, deep valleys, perpetual ice and fjords with vertical walls symbolize the Inuit belief that time is eternal. Whether you wish to climb Auyuittuq's mountains, ski on its ice fields, or backpack through the Akshayuk Pass, take a moment of that eternity to explore the park. Well known for its short but intense flowering season, the Arctic in July and August offers a magnificent display of tundra beauty with carpets of tiny but hearty wildflowers that transform the countryside into a vibrantly coloured fresco. This transformation occurs despite the fact that the Inuktitut word, "auyuittuq" means "the land that never melts". Truly astonishing!
Gwaii Haanas - gw-eye haa-nass
Gwaii Haanas, Haida words meaning “islands of wonder and beauty”.© Parks Canada
Gwaii Haanas means "islands of beauty" in the Haïda language. Plants and animals find shelter in these islands where some trees are over 1000 years old and 95 metre tall. Every fall, the waters of Gwaii Haanas offer an unparalleled spectacle as tens of thousands of Pacific salmon jostle each other to swim back up the coastal streams to spawn before dying and nourishing the forest. Millions of herring also return to spawn, transforming the coastline and protected lochs into a vast expanse of foaming blue-white waters. The fauna of the Haida Gwaii archipelago is unique: six of the ten land mammals indigenous to the area are subspecies not found anywhere else on the planet. There are no words to describe the wonder of scuba diving in one of the best preserved and most sacred places in the world.
Ivvavik – Eev-vah-veek
Ivvavik means “a place for giving birth, a nursery” in Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit.© Parks Canada
The beauty that awaits you in this national park is indescribable. Let's begin with the magnificent landscape along the Firth River with its challenging rapids for even strong paddlers, and move on to the Beaufort Sea, part of the least known ocean in the world, the Arctic Ocean. Let's not forget the British Mountains, forming part of mythical Beringia, which humans are said to have crossed at least 12,000 years ago to settle the northern Yukon, territory that would one day become part of our beautiful country. Ivvavik means "a place for giving birth, a nursery" in Inuvialuktun, the language of the Inuvialuit. The park protects a large portion of the calving grounds of the Porcupine caribou herd and represents the Northern Yukon and Mackenzie Delta natural regions.
Kejimkujik – ke-jim-koo-jik
Kejimkujik, a Mi’kmaq word meaning “lake of good spirits” or “lake of fairies”.© Parks Canada
The origin of the word "Kejimkujik" is undoubtedly Mi'kmaq, most likely meaning "lake of good spirits" or "lake of fairies". Indeed, the lake was previously known as "Fairy Lake". A national historic site and a national park, Kejimkujik is also a Dark Sky Preserve (DSP) where spectacular sunsets are just a prelude to the wonders of the night sky. During your visit, walk or paddle the ancient routes of the Mi'kmaq, European explorers and Canada's first settlers, for this is a place with thousands of years of history. Discover Mi'kmaw petroglyphs and swim in the warm waters of Kejimkujik Lake. Home to a significant number of species at risk including the Blanding's turtle, the Northern ribbon snake and the flora of the Atlantic coastal plain, Kejimkujik is one of the rare refuges for old growth forests and the species that depend on them.
Kouchibouguac - koo-she-boo-gwak
Kouchibouguac, a Mi’kmaq word meaning “river of long tides”.© Parks Canada
Kouchibouguac, meaning "river of long tides" in Mi'kmaq, is where fresh and salt water meet. Visitors to the park will discover that the shallow lagoons provide an ideal home for hundreds of species of plant and wildlife. Summer in Kouchibouguac brings a wide range of activities, each more intense than the last. Visitors can explore the park on foot, by bike or by canoe, can camp, fish, enjoy the play areas or even relax in the sun on the saltwater beaches that are among Canada's warmest. A wonderful place to have fun. But isn't learning while enjoying yourself even better? Whether on a voyageur canoe adventure, watching outdoor theatre or exploring the lagoons, Kouchibouguac's interpretation programs will leave you with much more than just enjoyable travel memories; they will inspire you to learn even more about this beautiful corner of our country.
Nááts'ihch'oh - NAT-chee-oh
Nááts’ihch’oh, an expression in the Shúhtagot’ine language referring to the mountain’s unique jagged shape and sharp peak resembling the spine of a porcupine.© Parks Canada
Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve is 4,850 square kilometres of breathtaking scenery. The towering Mackenzie and Wilson Mountains explain why the expression "Nááts'ihch'oh" in the Shúhtagot'ine language refers to the mountain's unique jagged shape and sharp peak resembling the spine of a porcupine. The beauty and the splendours of the area can be discovered by land, by water or from the air. Visitors can climb, hike, paddle or flightsee to better appreciate the spectacular vistas. If you are planning to bring a headlamp with you, be aware that a sleeping mask might be more appropriate since, in summer, the midnight sun may keep you awake. But who wants to sleep and risk missing the wondrous spectacle of the Northern Lights?
Pukaskwa - puk-a-saw (a hockey puck, the word "a", and a saw)
Pukaskwa, an Anishinabe word meaning “fish-cleaning place”.© Parks Canada
There are many spellings of the word "Pukaskwa" and many legends about the meaning of the word. Some contend that the word is descriptive terminology related to cleaning fish. Others suggest it could mean "eaters of fish", "something evil" or, in contrast, "safe harbour." Today, the word has become synonymous with the wild shoreline of Lake Superior known as Pukaskwa National Park. Of exceptional beauty, the park offers panoramic vistas of Lake Superior and the rugged, ancient landscape of the Canadian Shield and northern forest. It is the perfect place to immerse yourself in thirty centuries of a rich, ancient culture and to discover unique plants and wildlife. Not only does the park offer wonderful experiences for hikers and paddlers, but also for those interested in learning about the Anishinaabe culture through a purification ceremony at the Anishinaabe camp on the shores of the sparkling waters of Hattie Cove.
Quttinirpaaq - koo-tin-ir-pa-ak
Quttinirpaaq, an Inuktitut word meaning “top of the world”.© Parks Canada
Looking for a complete change of scenery? Then Quttinirpaaq Park is the place to visit. It contains the highest peak east of the Rockies, Barbeau Peak, soaring 2,616 metres above sea level. In Inuktitut, "Quttinirpaaq" means "highest", "way up there" or "top of the world". Quttinirpaaq is also the most northern of Canada's national parks with part of it only 800 kilometres from the North Pole and the polar cap. It is the second largest national park in Canada with about one‑third of its 37,775 km2 covered by glaciers.
It is quite likely while adventuring in Quttinirpaaq that you will come across some of the animals typical to the Far North such as polar bears, Arctic wolves, Arctic foxes, ermines, muskoxen and even several species of seals. The region's flora is also interesting with flowering plants such as Arctic poppy and saxifrage growing where the soil is rich enough. Of course, being the most northerly park, it is also a place where the sun forgets to sleep in summer.
Saoyú-Ɂehdacho - Sahw-you Eh-da-choh
Saoyú and Ɂehdacho mean “Grizzly Bear Mountain” and “Scented Grass Hills” in the Sahtugot’ine language.© Parks Canada
A visit to this national historic site brings unparalleled healing and great comfort. Saoyú and Ɂehdacho mean "Grizzly Bear Mountain" and "Scented Grass Hills" respectively. Saoyú and Ɂehdacho are two large peninsulas reaching into Great Bear Lake just south of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories and are teaching and spiritual places essential to the cultural well-being of the Sahtugot’ine (the people of the Great Bear Lake). Bathed by the waters of Great Bear Lake - a vast inland sea that is the largest fresh water lake in Canada and the ninth largest lake in the world - this unique historical site abounds with the culture of the Sahtugot’ines who believe that the land is sacred. This site offers an opportunity to better understand the origins of the culture of the Sahtu Dene, their spiritual values, lifestyle and land use. For them, the land is alive with stories, blending the natural and supernatural worlds. These stories serve as the link between the people and the land.
Ukkusiksalik - oo-koo-sik-sa-lik
Ukkusiksalik, an Inuktitut word meaning “place to find stone to make pots”.© Parks Canada
Ukkusiksalik means "place to find stone to make pots" in Inuktitut. In fact, hundreds of archeological sites show that the area has long been a gathering spot. Imagine! For over 3000 years, populations drawn to the spectacular landscape with its abundant wildlife have gathered here, camped and paddled these waters. There are a number of indications that the entire region was once awash with gigantic lakes and rivers at the melting of the last great ice sheets. Wager Bay offers unique features with its 8 m high tides and strong tidal effects producing amazing reversing falls. Two saltwater stretches remain open year-round, contributing to the park's wealth of marine life. To experience a wondrous Arctic adventure, visitors are encouraged to travel to the park by boat with an experienced outfitter, to safely observe the region's polar bears and abundant marine life, including seals, belugas and, sometimes, narwhals.