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Book shares beauty of Canada's national parks

Parks Canada has launched a commemorative hardcover book as part of the 125th celebration of Canada’s national park system.

Parks Canada has launched a commemorative hardcover book as part of the 125th celebration of Canada’s national park system.

Canada’s National Parks: A Celebration, a 256-page book, published by Vancouver-based Canopy brings together the work of 39 landscape photographers to document all 42 of Canada’s national parks.

These photographers include Canmore-based photographers Jerry Kobalenko, John Marriott and Patrick McClosky.

The contemporary images are coupled with historic photographs from Parks Canada’s collection to provide a sense of ‘then’ and how the parks and their use has changed in the past 125 years.

According to the preface, “collectively, the images that grace these pages pay tribute to the splendor of the landscapes, flora, and fauna within the national parks of Canada… It is an invitation to come and experience first-hand the beauty and diversity of these remarkable places.”

Canada’s National Parks: A Celebration does indeed highlight Canada as exceptionally beautiful and that we fortunate to have the national parks that we do, but the book also points out the amount of the country that is protected federally – compared to its landmass – is exceedingly small.

Parks Canada states in the preface the government’s goal is to ensure the park system represents Canada as a whole and that efforts to expand the number of national parks are underway. Currently, national parks can be found in 28 of Canada’s 39 natural regions and many of those 42 parks are small, warranting only a dot on the map.

Expanding the national park system is of course a commendable goal, but as Nicole Rycroft, founder and executive director of Canopy, a publishing advocacy organization that works to protect forests by promoting the use of recycled paper (Canada’s National Parks was printed with 100 per cent pos-consumer recycled paper, points out in the foreword, “humanity’s capacity to destroy landscape at a pace that surprises us as it is not what we set out to accomplish. Diminishment and fragmentation of our natural heritage seem an unintended consequence of economic decisions. As a result, we can be thankful for sanctuaries such as the national parks illustrated on these pages.”

What the federal government has done up to this point is good. In fact, it’s fantastic, given what that the majority of Canadians treasure, however, the government has to do more, much more and much faster.

While not a national park per se, the Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, was established in June of 2010, marking the only place on the planet that is protected from mountain top to ocean bottom. The last national park, Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador was founded in 2005.

But protecting Canada isn’t just the responsibility of the federal government, every Canadian has a role in protecting the landscapes we love – whether it is lobbying the government or doing our part to respect our parks – and a book of this nature and scale is a beautiful and timely reminder why we should care about these places and why we need to protect more of Canada.

Canada’s National Parks: A Celebration retails for $29.95.

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