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.
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:
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