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People & Culture

Throwback Thursday: An ode to National Parks

Henrietta Wilson wasn’t the first to write a love letter to Canada’s mountains, and I doubt she’ll be the last.

  • Jun 24, 2015
  • 294 words
  • 2 minutes
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Henrietta Wilson wasn’t the first to write a love letter to Canada’s mountains, and I doubt she’ll be the last. But her ode to Canada’s National Parks, particularly those within and around the Rocky Mountains, published in the July 1930 issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal does strike a chord; it reads as if it could have been written yesterday. [Read it here]

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Twin Falls in Yoho Valley, Yoho National Park.

Sprinkled among a stunning collection of vintage photographs, Wilson details the birth of Canada’s first National Park (Banff), and calls back to the passages across the peaks by early explorers like David Thompson and Sir James Douglas. At this time, it was difficult to trace the routes of these early explorers, since, as Wilson writes, most places either didn’t have a name or their given names were superseded. For instance, the Selkirks were first named Nelson’s Mountains. Wilson’s adoration of the National Parks within the Rockies is clear. She waxes poetic about their geology:

“This part of Canada has been likened to a book, wherein can be read the ancient history of the continent… on these great rock faces, and in canyons like the famous Maligne, a geologist can read the succeeding pages of earth’s history.”

Their importance to Canada:

“In the National Parks we have these much-needed asylums, assured to the people of Canada as their own, places where the wild animals can multiply and the wild flowers be preserved.”

And their universal appeal:

“Indeed, it would be a strange man or woman who could not find something interesting, something attractive, in one or other of Canada’s delightful National Playgrounds.”

Read Henrietta Wilson’s 1930 ode to Canada’s National Parks, and peruse more vintage photographs, here.


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