I should like to say a few words about our national parks under this item. I am particularly interested in it, because for many years I have been in a business in which I have been closely in contact with people who visit our parks from year to year and I have been very much impressed with their reports. I am prompted to speak on this item particularly as it relates to the tourist traffic.
On November 7 of this year, a Mr. A. O. Seymour, of Montreal, speaking at a meeting of the members of the Canadian Association of Tourists and Publicity Bureaux, predicted that some 26,000,000 United States anglers and hunters with more than four billion dollars to spend annually on their hobbies will be in the North American tourist market within a few years. This figure may or may not be exaggerated; I hope it is true, and in support of that I was pleased indeed to see a statement made by the minister of health at the same meeting outlining a new programme of federal activity in the tourist field, including the further development of our national parks. That is a commendable project. I do not think we can go too far in the expansion of
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our national parks across Canada, because they are so closely linked with the great tourist industry. I should like to bring before the members of the house some important facts which I believe will be of interest. Often we are tempted to become more or less complacent and sit back and think someone else will do the work. We do not regard our parks as important as they really are.
From a small beginning nearly sixty years ago Canada's national parks have expanded until to-day there are some twenty-six parks beckoning visitors to every province. They contain about 30,000 square miles, all under federal ownership and administration, and they are fairly well spread across Canada, with four in British Columbia, six in Alberta, one in Saskatchewan, two in Manitoba, five in Ontario, two in Quebec, one in New Brunswick, one in Prince Edward Island and four in Nova Scotia. In addition, I am told that recently gome 10,000 square miles have been set aside adjacent to the Alaska highway in the Yukon territory, as well as two sites offered by the province of Quebec and one by the province of New Brunswick. I believe that discussions are proceeding at the present time for a national park to be located partly in the province of Ontario in my own constituency of Leeds and partly in New York state. If it becomes a reality it will to a great extent be unique, and with its beautiful setting be another link in this great chain of show places across Canada. I hope to have more to say about that later on. Our present system of parks, even without these proposed extensions, is one of the finest and largest in the world. The parks include regions of outstanding beauty, natural phenomena, historic sites, wild bird and animal life. They conserve the country's wild creatures under natural conditions, and provide places for vacationing, no matter in what phase of outdoor life the visitor may be interested. There is, however, a great lack of accommodation in some of these parks for the casual visitor of moderate means, and also a shortage of small roadside parks with sanitary and cooking facilities.
I submit that more small parks should be established. If I may use for example my own constituency of Leeds, there is the famous chain of Itideau lakes. People travel thousands of miles to fish and hunt and enjoy the beautiful scenery, but absolutely no national park exists in the area where tourists can feel free to recuperate and receive the hospitality of our people. In the area there are several ideal spots suitable for small, well-equipped parks, and I am sure there are many such
places across Canada. I hope the government will give some consideration to these matters at the earliest opportunity.
To bring out my point, which is the importance of increasing the number of these parks across Canada, and especially the upkeep of those already in use, I am going again to refer to my own St. Lawrence islands national parks, principally located in my own constituency of Leeds. One of the most picturesque regions on the north American continent is the fifty-mile stretch of the St. Lawrence river between Kingston and Brockville. Along this section of great inland waterways its waters are studded with upwards of 1,700 beautiful islands varying in size from less than an acre to several square miles, and separated one from another by picturesque channels. These islands are clothed with groves of pine, oak, maple and birch, which rise above the bluffs of granite and limestone to cast shadows and deeper colour across the emerald waters. Nature has undoubtedly created here one of her masterpieces in river landscape.
For nearly three-quarters of a century the Thousand Islands, as they are called, have been a paradise for the summer visitor, so much so that most of the islands are now privately owned. However, as early as 1904 the* government of Canada in their wisdom set aside as national recreational areas a number of these islands which now form the St. Lawrence Islands national park. AJt the present time the park is composed of thirteen islands accessible from rivers and towns along the St. 'Lawrence river and mainland area at Mallorytown landing. On many of these islands improvements have been carried out and conveniences provided for visitors. Attractively designed pavilions and shelters have been erected, outdoor camp stoves, tables, benches, and, as a rule, firewood provided, and wharves and boat landings constructed to facilitate approach. Several of these islands have bathing beaches, and excellent fishing may be enjoyed in the surrounding waters. These parks have for many years supplied recreation for thousands of people from many countries. From my summer camp I am able to see three of the islands which form this group of parks, and therefore I have a first-hand impression of the activity about them. Hundreds of boats anchor at the wharves, some just overnight, some for days, some for weeks, and many times when they are caught in a storm. Believe me, I have a pretty fair idea of the value of such parks in the St. Lawrence.
Having said this, I wish to bring before this committee the deplorable condition of these
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parks and docks at the present time. I believe the same condition applies to several of these parks across Canada. I do not offer this, to any great extent at least, in the way of criticism, because I am cognizant of the shortage of material and labour during the war years, also the high water which' has taken its toll in the way of heavy damage to wharves. However, now that hostilities have ceased, I submit that no time should be lost in restoring these parks and wharves to their original usefulness and beauty. I believe this is urgent for, as I see it, we must be ready to receive and provide recreation and entertainment for the vast numbers of visitors moving from one province to another, and the tremendous influx of people from other countries which we are bound to have very shortly, now that the condition of peace again exists.
We' must not look, at this great tourist industry purely from a monetary point of view; we must meet these people with a sense of genuine welcome, and treat them in a realistic manner while they are our guests. Our national parks were established, in the words of one of our great statesmen, "to recuperate our people and to recoup our treasury." Let there be no possibility of , misunderstandings, but let the greatest sense of friendship prevail with these people from all provinces and from all lands.
In conclusion, may I say that all across Canada nature has provided us with the most beautiful settings in the world for national parks and playgrounds-gifts that cannot be set by hands-and no government can or will sit idly by and allow any of these parks to deteriorate when a nominal expenditure will keep up and expand these beautiful show places that present a "welcome" to people of our own country, and particularly to people from other countries, which will leave with them a lasting remembrance of the greatest country on God's green earth-Canada!
Some time during the discussion I am sure the minister will be good enough to comment on the suggestions which I have made.
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