Saving Canada's wilderness
James Bernard Harkin’s legacy is measured against vast expanses of
wilderness that he preserved for posterity. As the first Commissioner of
Dominion Parks (today’s Parks Canada), he brought passion to the budding
parks preservation movement.
Inspired by the spiritual and restorative powers of nature, Harkin promoted
tourism as an alternative to the mining, forestry and dam-building that threatened
to destroy the countryside. In 25 years he founded 13 national parks, established
the Historic Sites and Monuments Board, promoted the construction of as scenic parkways through the Rockies and drafted legislation to protect Canadian parks.
. . . the National Parks ensure that every Canadian, by right of citizenship,
will still have free access to vast areas possessing some of the finest scenery in Canada, in which the beauty of the landscape is protected from profanation,
the natural wild animals, plants and forests preserved, and the peace and solitude of primeval nature retained.
James Harkin, 1957