National Parks Creation Controversy

Above the landing area on Bonaventure Island looking out to Akademik Ioffe

Amidst such delights laid out in the form of National Parks that we have visited across Canada on this voyage, it is easy to forget the great controversies that have accompanied their establishment.

The Canadian people hereabouts are quick to point out the atrocities carried out by the British and New Englanders in what they call the deportation of the Acadians but seem somewhat laissez-fare when it comes to the heartache they have caused their own people as they created a network of National Parks.

Abandoned houses litter the island of Bonadventure left by the residents after Quebec forced them to leave in order that they could turn the entire island into a park.

Gros Morne for example became a national park in the 1970’s, The Newfoundland Government has always encouraged the development of national parks as part of a rural economic development strategy. But it has not always been easy on those whose homes they possess forcibly.

In 1973, the province agreed with the federal government to support the park by resettling 175 families of twelve communities to make way for the park. Much bitterness and public controversy ensued as many people were forced to move to nearby communities such as Rocky Harbour, Cow Head, Woody Point, and Norris Point.

Protest led to National Parks Board adopting a new policy on the development of new parks in 1979 based on a commitment to earning more local public support and using no expropriation of local people’s property.

Gros Morne National Park went on to develop becoming an impressive sit of natural beauty and geological significance. It was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988, and continues to serve as a major engine of the local economy.

We are grateful to Destination Canada, Air Canada and ship operators One Ocean Expeditions for kindly hosting us on this trip