This Week in History
Banff National Park Celebrates 125 Years of Memorable Experiences!
For the week of Monday November 22, 2010
On November 25, 1885, Canada's first national park was born when the Government of Canada set aside a small parcel of land around Banff's Cave and Basin thermal springs for the enjoyment of all Canadians. Today, the park is known world-wide for its awe-inspiring landscapes and diversity of plant and animal species, and welcomes more than three million visitors each year. It is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Used by Aboriginal peoples for many years, the thermal springs at the Cave and Basin remained unknown to the rest of the world until three Canadian Pacific Railway workers came across them in 1883. Word quickly spread to others who flocked to the springs hoping to profit from this natural spa and tourist attraction so close to the newly laid railway tracks.
National parks were managed differently then, reflecting the needs and values of their time. While forestry and mining was permitted in the park, the importance of conserving the natural environment was also a priority. In Banff's early days, wild rice was planted in shallow lakes and wetlands to encourage bird life, fish were brought in to stock local lakes, and a tree nursery was established to reforest areas damaged by construction or forest fires. As more modern conservation thinking and practices evolved over time, park regulations placed greater controls on resource extraction and commercial development, sought to limit the introduction of invasive species of plants and animals, and recognised that fire and predators play important roles in Banff's ecosystems.
For more information, please see the Banff National Park, Cave and Basin National Historic Site and Celebrations pages of the Parks Canada website. To read about the Canadian Rocky Mountains UNESCO World Heritage Site, see the UNESCO World Heritage Centre's website.
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