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The History of Ontario's Parks

Backgrounder

The History of Ontario's Parks

Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

For 125 years, Ontario's provincial parks have provided places for outdoor recreation, education, and connection with nature.

Algonquin Provincial Park, established in 1893, was Ontario's first provincial park and one of Canada's oldest. Today, Ontario's diverse system of parks protects an area greater than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined. 125 years later our mandate is as strong as ever.

 History of Ontario Parks

1893 - Algonquin created as a public park and forest reservation, fish and game preserve, health resort and pleasure ground.

1954 - Ontario has eight provincial parks. A Division of Parks is created within the Department of Lands and Forests. The new division embarks on a provincial expansion program to meet the needs of a post-war recreation boom.

1960 - There are now 45 provincial parks in Ontario, hosting over 5 million visits annually.

1967 - Ontario introduces a policy that divides parks into classes based on permitted activities. These include recreation, cultural heritage, wilderness, and more.

1978 - Ontario introduces the Ontario Provincial Parks Planning and Management Policies, the first park system planning and policy framework of its kind in Canada. 

1983 - A province-wide strategic land use planning exercise leads to the creation of 155 new parks.

1989 - There are now 256 provincial parks in Ontario encompassing over 6.3 million hectares.

1993 - Ontario celebrates the centenary of both the provincial parks system and Algonquin Provincial Park.

1996 - The provincial parks system adopts a new entrepreneurial operating model, symbolized by a new logo and name - Ontario Parks.

1996 - Another 11,000 hectars of land are protected under Legacy 2000.

1999 - Ontario's Living Legacy establishes 61 new parks and expands 45 existing parks.

2001 - Ontario Parks hosts over 10 million visits for the first time.

2006 - The Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves Act is passed, strengthening the legislative framework for the management of the protected areas system in Ontario. Maintaining ecological integrity is the top priority of provincial parks.

2011 - The Learn to Camp program is launched to help a new generation of campers enjoy the outdoors.

2015 - Ontario Parks joins the worldwide Healthy Parks Healthy People movement.

2017- There are over 330 provincial parks, which encompass over 8.2 million hectares of land and water - or 7.7 per cent of Ontario.

2018 - 125th anniversary of the Ontario Parks system.

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