Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 23, 2012

Banff Hot Springs Reserve with the original hotel in foreground

June 23, 1887: The Canadian Parliament passes the Rocky Mountains Park Act. This act established Canada’s first national part, Rocky Mountains Park. It was modeled on the Yellowstone Park Act passed in 1881 by the US. The concept behind the law was to establish a national haven where conservation could be balanced against development interests. The Canadian park was located around a hot springs discovered in a cave of the Rocky Mountains. Railroad men found the springs while tracks were being laid to connect to British Columbia. Several claimants took credit for discovering the hot springs.

In 1885, Minister John A. Macdonald set aside ten square miles at Cave and Basin as a public park known as Banff Hot Springs Reserve. When this act was passed, the park expanded to 260 square miles. The Canadian Pacific Railway built both the Banff Springs Hotel and Chateau Lake Louise to attract tourists, aka customers. The luxury vacation spot was a hit with wealthy Europeans. The Alpine Club of Canada formed in 1906 to arrange climbs and camps in the austere setting. In 1911, the area was finally accessible by car, driving in from Calgary. By 1916, bus tours were established.

In 1902 the park once again expanded, this time to 4,402 square miles. However, the area included interrupted the easy flow of the logging industry and by 1911 the area was reduced to 1,800 square miles. It once again grew to 2,586 square miles in 1930 with the passage of the National Parks Act. At that time, the name was also changed to Banff National Park, named for the Canadian Pacific Railway station. The boundaries changed for the last time in 1949 setting aside 2,564 square miles for the park., which is larger than the state of Delaware.

The park is open year round and with the ever changing weather, offers a variety of holiday or entertainment opportunities. The frigid winter months, with only 8-9 hours of daylight per day, give visitors a variety of snow-based entertainment options. There is downhill, cross-country, and touring skiing as well as snowshoeing and ice diving or ice climbing (frozen waterfalls). In the summer months, with up to 16.5 hours of sunlight, a variety of camping and water activities are available. In both season, wildlife is abundant and photographic opportunities abound. And in all seasons, the hot springs await to soothe and refresh the weary traveler.

Let us a little permit Nature to take her own way; she better understands her own affairs than we. – Michel de Montaigne

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold

For 200 years we’ve been conquering Nature. Now we’re beating it to death. – Tom McMillan

You forget that the fruits belong to all and that the land belongs to no one. – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Also on this day:

Mutiny on the Discovery – In 1611, Henry Hudson’s crew mutinies.
Clackity clack – In 1868, an improved typewriter was patented.
Lorena and John – In 1993, domestic violence made the world headlines.