British Columbia – 644; Alberta – 473; Saskatchewan – 36; Manitoba – 92; Ontario – 340; Quebec – 27; New Brunswick – 9; Newfoundland – 32; Prince Edward Island 23; Nova Scotia – 20; Yukon Territory – 8; North West Territories – 6; Nunavut – 3
Admittedly, these numbers surprised me until I saw all that they include: The numbers represent the number of provincial parks, wildland provincial parks, provincial recreation areas, ecological reserves, wilderness areas, natural areas and heritage rangelands in each of the respective provinces. Provincial parks come in all various shapes and sizes; naturally formed or man-modified but all have a common goal: they have been “designated by the provincial governments for the purposes of nature protection, recreation, tourism, historic preservation and education.1”
Canada also has 48 national parks and national park reserves in 30 different regions. Surprisingly, with the amount of national and provincial parks in our country, it only covers only 340,000km2 or just over 3% of Canada’s landmass – which also shows just how massive Canada is. Although Banff National Park opened in 1885, it wasn’t until 1911 when what is now known as Parks Canada was created. Canada was the first country in the world to create a National Parks Service – America’s was created five years later in 1916.
Because of how diverse Canada is, the parks each have a character and “uniqueness” unto themselves:
- Polar Bear Provincial Park on Hudson Bay – 24,087km2 is a wilderness park visited by less than 500 people each year, yet is also the largest provincial park. Bronte Creek Provincial Park is the smallest provincial park. Located in Oakville, Ontario it is only 6.4km2.
- The smallest national park is the Georgian Bay Islands National Park at 12 km2. The largest national park is not only the largest national park in Canada (45,000km2) but the second largest national park in the world – second to Northeast Greenland National Park in Greenland at 972,000km2.
- The first provincial park in Canada was Algonquin Provincial Park – established in 1893, and the first Canadian provincial park to protect a natural environment.
- Rondeau Provincial Park was declared in 1894 because it features a “Carolinian” forest of numerous migratory birds and species that are usually found further south.
- British Columbia has 4 provincial parks that are designated at UNESCO sites.
- In 1885, Banff was the first national park in Canada and originally called Rocky Mountains Park. It was created to protect 26km2 over the Cave and Basin Hot springs to prevent the land from being sold to private investors and was modelled after the American Yellowstone National Park.
- No surprise that Banff National Park is THE busiest park with over four million visitors in 2016-2017. So it makes sense that the second most visited park would be Jasper National Park with 2.5 million visitors.
- Filling in the third most visited national park list is Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec. The Quebec National Marine Conservation area is located where the Saguenay River meets the Saint Lawrence River and is one of only four that was created to protect solely the marine environment.
- Fundy National Park in New Brunswick has the highest tides in the world. High tide, the waters rise up to 15m, whereas most places the average rise is from 1m – 4m. If you haven’t seen this, it is definitely a bucket list item.
- The least visited National Park is Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, with conflicting information of between two or four visitors in 2016. Tuktut Nogait means “Young Caribou” in Inuvialuktun and is the calving grounds of the Bluenose-West caribou herd.
- Sable Island National Park off of Nova Scotia was created to protect the 500 wild horses that call it home. It can only be accessed by plane or boat and all visitors must register in advance.
When you think of how vast our country is, there are just so many places to visit where we have that unspoiled beauty. Thankfully our Parks Canada works very hard to ensure that beauty remains unspoiled. If you decide to try and see how many of our provincial and national parks you decide to cross off your bucket list, we have the means to help you travel in style and comfort. Come on in and visit us today.
- The Canadian Encyclopedia – https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/provincial-parks