When I applied to graduate school in 2015, I had to decide what topic I wanted to write about for my two-year MFA program at the University of King's College. There were plenty of ideas floating around in my head, but each time I tried to put something down on paper, I couldn't stop thinking about national parks.
From mountains and prairies to beaches and forests, our park system is one of Canada's most iconic features. We owe many of these protected sites to J.B. Harkin and other forward-thinking individuals who, back in early 20th century, could foresee a time when much of the country would be settled and national parks might remain one of the few places that we could go to reconnect with nature.
“It is possible that you may not know Canada is rich in national parks," Harkin wrote. "And yet these parks are your parks and all the wealth of beauty and opportunity for enjoyment which they offer are yours by right of heritage because you are a Canadian. National parks exist for the people. They are the people’s share of the natural beauty of mountain, lake, and stream.”
Determined to learn more about Canada's national parks, I started travelling around the country to talk to the people who know them best. These conversations have taken me to Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Riding Mountain, Gros Morne, Fundy, Kejimkujik, and Prince Edward Island. Before I'm finished, I plan to add Rouge, Kouchibouguac, La Mauricie, Grasslands, and Gwaii Haanas to that list.
If you are one of the millions of people who care about these places, I hope you'll consider following along as I continue exploring our park system and its importance to our identity as Canadians.