The Evolution of Canada’s National Park System

Friday, 31 January 2020

Speaker: Gerry Lee

Lecture title: Then, Then and Now: The Evolution of Canada’s National Park System

Lecture Summary

From its inception in 1885, Canada’s National Park System has taken many turns on the path to maturity, turns that have altered its purpose, its size and its politics. Prior to the 1930 Natural Resource Acts [ which gave provinces control over their natural resources], National Parks could only be created on federally-owned lands. Also prior to 1930, federal parks were more often referred to as Dominion Parks, Forest Parks, or simply Parks. It took the passage of the National Parks Act, also in 1930, to officially coin the term “National” and state the purpose for which they were created. Politics, at either the federal or provincial level, have played a significant role in the final selection of new park areas, but new methodologies developed in the 60s have added more objectivity to the process, replacing the Park descriptor “outstanding” with “representative”. Being a part of this evolutionary process was both professionally and personally exciting and rewarding, not the least of which was the field work part. Some field anecdotes will be shared re the life of a new park planner.

Bio: Gerry Lee

Gerry LeeGerry Lee graduated from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) 1964-1968 with a Masters in Forestry, minor in Wildlife Management.  He joined Parks Canada in 1965 as a new park planner, doing boundary and resource studies for Gros Morne (Nfld), Nahanni (NWT) and Kluane (Yukon) plus co-authored Park Systems Planning Manual and initiated a National Wild River Study, forerunner of the Heritage Rivers Program.  Gerry joined the Lands Directorate in 1974 as Chief, Federal Land Services, then moved to his final position as Chief, Habitat Conservation, Canadian Wildlife Service.  Retired in 1996, he served on the Wildlife Habitat Canada Board and Ontario’s Fish and Wildlife Heritage Commission as well as Michigan’s School of Natural Resources Board of Governors (2 terms).  Currently, he spends about four days/week year-round at his forest property on Indian Creek, Pakenham Twp., managing a wildlife-focused woodland.

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