History of Algonquin Provincial Park
History of Algonquin Provincial Park


Algonquin Park was established in 1893 as a result of concerns over the depletion of Ontario's forests and wildlife. In addition, government officials were troubled about the many farms, and the associated land clearing, pushing closer and closer to the headwaters of major watersheds on the rugged Algonquin Highlands.

Through the work of James Dickson, an Ontario Land Surveyor, and Alexander Kirkwood, Chief Clerk in the Land Sales Division of the Ontario Department of Crown Lands, the idea of a "National Forest and Park" located in the Algonquin Highlands was set in motion.

In 1892, A Royal Commission for Forest Preservation and National Park was established to study the idea of establishing a national forest and park. A year later on May 27, 1893, the Ontario Legislature passed the Algonquin Park Act setting aside 3755 km2 for:

  • The preservation of the streams, lakes and watercourses of the headwater of those rivers which have their source in the Park;
  • The maintenance of the Park in a state of nature as far as possible, having regard to existing interests; and the preservation of the native forests therein and of their indigenous woods as nearly as practicable;
  • To protect the fish, insectivorous and other birds, game and furbearing animals therein, and to encourage their growth and increase;
  • To provide a field for experiments in and practice of systematic forestry upon a limited scale;
  • To secure as a sanitarium or place of health resort; and
  • To secure the benefits which the retention of a large block of forest would confer upon the climate and water-course of the surrounding portions of the province.

Today, Algonquin Park has more than doubled in size to its current 7725 km2 and is subject to pressures which were unforeseen by its founders. But just as when the Park was created over a century ago, Algonquin Park continues to serve as an important and special place for all who have visited it. It was the foresight of individuals such as Dickson, Kirkwood, and the Ontario Government that were crucial in establishing Algonquin Park.

Suggested Reading
Educators: Learn more about Algonquin’s habitats, download readings and worksheets from the Educator Resources section of the Web Site, or you may also learn more through the following publications:

A Chronology of Algonquin Park History
In this booklet you will find the bare facts and events of much of Algonquin Park's history which are presented in chronological order. References are included so that the booklet may serve as a companion to other reading you may wish to do about Algonquin Park.

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A Pictorial History of Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin's natural beauty stands in such contrast to the man-made environment in which we live today, that many of us assume the Park we see now is exactly the way it has always been. People have been associated with this area for over 4500 years, and many of the physical signs are still evident today. An astonishing amount of the Park's history has been recorded on film, and we can still appreciate today such colourful periods as the pioneer loggers, the early rangers, the grand hotels and the railways. This book contains 85 of the best and most representative historical photographs in the Park's archives.

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Algonquin Story
The Friends of Algonquin Park are pleased to announce the reprinting of Algonquin Story. Written by the late Audrey Saunders Miller (1913 - 1993), this book was first issued in 1946 and served as the only published repository of the Park's early history for twenty-eight years until the late Ottelyn Addison produced her Early Days in Algonquin Park in 1974. An index of people and places mentioned in the text, and new maps have been added. Since the late 1970's when the last copies of Algonquin Story were sold, an entire generation has missed the opportunity to read first-hand tales that were gathered by Audrey Saunders at the end of Algonquin Park's first fifty years. With this reprinted edition comes a remedy.

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