“Canada has national parks representing the Rockies, the Arctic, the prairie grasslands, the East Coast sand dunes, the Pacific Rim – in fact, almost every major geographic feature of the land but one specifically representing our most prominent natural boundary, the sea.”
– Richard Wilbur, “Next, a marine park”, Canadian Geographic (February/March 1985)
If this map of Canada’s National Parks system appears a bit out of date, that’s because it’s from the mid-1980s, when the country had fewer than 30 national parks and the first marine park had yet to be realized. Today, the country boasts 46 federally recognized parks and four National Marine Conservation Areas, and even one National Urban Park (Rouge National Urban Park in Scarborough, Ont.).
Canada still has a long way to go. When the above map was published in the February 1985 issue of Canadian Geographic, New Brunswick’s West Isles area appeared to be well on its way to becoming the country’s first federally recognized marine protected area. That honour, however, was bestowed upon the Fathom Five National Marine Park in Ontario in 1987. More than two decades later, the vision of a nationally protected park in the West Isles has remained unrealized, though efforts are underway.