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Canadian National Parks: Something To Be Proud Of

7 Nov

It was 100 years ago that the National Parks system was created in Canada. The first of its kind in the world, the National Park system has grown to encompass more than 42 National Parks, 4 National Marine Conservation Areas, one National Landmark, and 167 National Historic Sites. Managed by Parks Canada, these areas have been set aside by Canadians to protect them from development, and to preserve the natural landscapes and wildlife of the country. With that I find it fitting to include a gallery of photos of some of the countries national parks, you can see the photos below.


Starting with the first national park in 1885, Banff National Park was merely a stepping stone into the network of terrestrial and marine areas in the park system today. By 1911 the Dominion Parks Branch was created, the beginning of our current system, and by 1930 the National Parks Act was put into legislation protecting all National Parks. These parks play a familiar role in the lives of many Canadians, from canoe trips on great rivers, camping in thick boreal forests, to skiing and snowboarding one of the world’s most spectacular mountain ranges. The expansiveness and the privilege of the natural beauty can often be overlooked, however it is important to value what so many other places on earth do not have, a natural beauty that attracts visitors from all over the world to see.

2011 is the anniversary of this century old system and the Royal Canadian Mint is commemorating the milestone with special coins that you might just come across in circulation and a pretty cool commercial as well. So the next time your find yourself in one of Canada’s Parks, take a minute to appreciate not only the wilderness around you, but the effort involved to create such an icon of sustainability in our great country.

Photos courtesy of National Geographic, you can view the gallery on their website here.

You can also visit the Royal Canadian Mint website here.

2 Paddles, 1 Canoe, a Different Perspective

22 Oct

It was 4:30am Saturday Oct 17, 2009, as I drag myself out of bed. It is at this point that I regret not getting to sleep until 1:30am, should of brought that monster energy drink along, I think to myself as we cruise south down the highway in the darkness. We’re in the Suzuki XL-7, with a 16ft fiberglass canoe hastily strapped to the roof, heading southwest of Edmonton; upstream of the North Saskatchewan River. My friend Lucas and I had this last minute idea to paddle down the river on what looked to be one of the last good weather weekends of the year, although the snow and cold earlier in the week didn’t boost our confidence.

two men and a canoe 037We push on down the secondary highway system, headed towards the Genesee Bridge, about an hour and a half drive away. When we get there it’s still dark, as we pull down the canoe from the roof and carry it down to the water’s edge, and begin loading the gear into it. Just as the sky begins to brighten, we’ve pushed off from the shore, floating through the fog, as a bright red dawn reflects off the water. It’s almost surreal as we paddle quietly past the riverbanks. “I sure hope we don’t tip” Lucas says. Thinking about how I’m wearing the only clothes I brought, and how cold the water is, I couldn’t agree more, falling in… would suck.

This was supposed to be an overnight trip, and both of us had things to do on Sunday, so we pushed hard the first day to cover some ground errr.. water. Fall is a beautiful time for a canoe trip down the river, the leaves are all turning color, and if you look carefully, you can spot bald eagles soaring above. Canadian and snow geese are all along the river. Flying in perfect V’s over the water, they are abruptly interrupted by Lucas’ attempt at a goose call, “uuuaahhhh!” he screams, as I burst out laughing, “That was terrible!”

two men and a canoe 106The river is fairly easy to navigate in this section, but with a very dry year with little rain, the water level is very low. Occasionally Lucas yells “Rock!” as I steer hard to keep us from hitting the boulders patiently waiting to rip a hole in an unsuspecting canoe. At other times, you look down into the clear waters and find yourself in only a few inches of water as you glide over a rocky sandbar hoping you don’t bottom out. By the end of the day our shoulders and backs tell us it’s time to stop, as we begin to hunt for a good place to land and make camp for the night. We find a rocky beach and push ashore, dragging the canoe up out of the water. After setting up the tent and cooking a quick meal, it doesn’t take long before we’re both fast asleep. Three hours of sleep followed with nine hours of paddling down a river is the perfect recipe for a quick pass out.

10430_305958975496_511335496_9525711_7101639_nMy sleep is only interrupted at around 2am, by the sound of rain pouring down on the tent. Lucas is up too, as I peek out of my mummy bag, “Can you imagine packing up camp and paddling the rest of the way in a down pour tomorrow?” I say, before falling back asleep. When I open my eyes in the morning, I am glad to not here the sound of raindrops on the nylon tent. I get dressed and crawl outside, Lucas sticks his head out, “Aw man, I spent so much time thinking about how I’m going to wrap myself up in garbage bags to stay dry today, and now it’s not even raining!” I chuckle as I start to pack things up. It doesn’t take long before we’re back on the water pushing towards the city.

Bridge after bridge we paddle into the city, enjoying a very unique look of the city that we both grew up in. Our arms are burning, and sitting on a hard canoe seat for 2 days is not the most comfortable. But neither of us regrets it. We get back onto dry land near the low level bridge, as we strap the canoe in the back of the truck, all 10 feet sticking out the back, “It’ll be fine!” we say, as we drive off down the road. 2 paddles, 1 canoe, a different perspective, what better way to spend a weekend in October…