Mapping

The map that helped preserve Gatineau Park

This colourful forest-cover map, completed in 1974, provided invaluable information for the management of the National Capital Region’s cherished park
  • Oct 11, 2018
  • 367 words
  • 2 minutes
Gatineau Park forest-cover map Expand Image

It’s not as good as actually being in Gatineau Park amid the rich autumnal colours, but looking at this map of the 80-year-old protected area in southwestern Quebec is a mesmerizing experience unto itself.

The camouflage-like tapestry of predominantly ochre, orange, yellow and red helps hold your gaze and piques your interest — where, exactly, is the army on Earth that’s using this pattern to conceal its soldiers? — before evoking images of stands of forested hillsides ablaze with colour in September and October, not to mention meandering strolls through them in crisp fall air.

When this forest-cover map of the park was completed in 1974, many city-dwellers in the National Capital Region (Gatineau Park is a 15-minute drive from downtown Ottawa and operated by the National Capital Commission) had long been feeling the itch to run for those hills. They wanted an escape — or at the very least, a break — from the fug of smog that came with post-war urban expansion and population growth; they wanted to breathe in the fresh air of forests, stroll on trails through the wilderness on their doorstep and perhaps even catch glimpses of wildlife such as black bears.

But visitors eager to experience the outdoors left behind more than just footprints and photographs. As outdoor recreation grew, so did the pressure on the park’s forests, which made authorities increasingly concerned about the welfare of the woods. So in 1969, the Forest Management Institute of the Canadian Forestry Service was dispatched at the request of the National Capital Commission to survey the situation on the ground and map the park’s patchwork of forest cover. When the service finalized its map five years later, it finally had a comprehensive picture of the park’s spectrum of tree types — dry, moist and wet hardwoods, mixed woods and softwoods — and its biodiversity, which remains unusually high for an area that’s just 361 square kilometres.

The information proved invaluable for supporting forest management plans and was an important modern step in maintaining what remains today a cherished wild refuge.

*with files from Erika Reinhardt, archivist, Library and Archives Canada

 
 

Related Content

A crowd of tourist swarm on a lakeside beach in Banff National Park

Places

Smother Nature: The struggle to protect Banff National Park

In Banff National Park, Alberta, as in protected areas across the country, managers find it difficult to balance the desire of people to experience wilderness with an imperative to conserve it

  • 3707 words
  • 15 minutes
Andy McKinnon

Places

Canada’s first national urban park

It’s an ambitious plan: take the traditional Parks Canada wilderness concept and plunk it in the country’s largest city. But can Toronto’s Rouge National Urban Park help balance city life with wildlife?

  • 3601 words
  • 15 minutes
The War of 1812 giant floor encourages students to interact with history

Kids

Giant floor maps put students on the map

Canadian Geographic Education’s series of giant floor maps gives students a colossal dose of cartography and is a powerful teaching tool

  • 1487 words
  • 6 minutes
Maclear & Co.'s Railway Map of Canada West

Mapping

Vintage railway maps from Library and Archives Canada’s collection

Early maps of the railways that shaped our country 

  • 527 words
  • 3 minutes