With warm weather finally upon us, and summer just around the corner, Manitoba’s beautiful parks and natural landscapes beckon.
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On the occasion of its 50th anniversary, HTFC Planning & Design is hosting a series of conversations about the landmark plans and places that have shaped our province over the last five decades.
The focus will be on pivotal moments, when new ideas altered the course of development and influenced how we see ourselves and our communities.
Each article will follow the changing public discourse around these moments over the last half-century, and examine them within the context of the wider social, cultural and political debates of the day to draw lessons for the future.
For many, especially those of us who live in cities and towns, Manitoba’s parks provide a vital connection — or escape— to the great outdoors.
Iconic parks like the Whiteshell and Riding Mountain, and other treasures like Spruce Woods and Hecla Grindstone, provide the backdrop for cherished memories with family and friends.
We take parks for granted — assuming they are as timeless and everlasting as the landscape itself. But parks are a relatively modern invention, shaped by human interests and priorities as much as by the natural elements.
The history of parks in Manitoba has evolved considerably over the past half century from the recreational leisure grounds of the Whiteshell in the 1960s, to ecological preserves with interpretive learning elements, to new forms of digitally augmented park experiences today.
The way we plan, design and manage parks has changed, too. Where parks were once created by governmental decree, today there is a recognition of the need to work co-operatively with local communities to develop parks that protect ecological and cultural values.
Canada’s newest World Heritage Site, Pimachiowin Aki, located on the east side of Lake Winnipeg, formed and managed jointly by four area First Nations together with the Manitoba and Ontario provincial governments, is an exciting example of a protected area that links ecological stewardship with cultural preservation and public education.
1893: Winnipeg Parks Board formed
1895: Turtle Mountain, Riding Mountain and Spruce Woods established as federal forest reserves to ensure supply of building materials.
1906: Duck Mountain and Porcupine Mountain forest reserves established.
1923: Sandilands Forest Reserve established.
1930: Turtle Mountain, Duck Mountain and Spruce Woods federal forest reserves transferred to province.
1930: Whiteshell Provincial Forest established.
1954: Belair and Agassiz provincial forests established.
1956: Northwest Angle Provincial Forest established.
1960: Manitoba’s first Provincial Parks Act passes, focused on recreational uses.
1961: Whiteshell, Turtle Mountain, Grand Beach, Duck Mountain and Spruce Woods reserves become provincial parks.
1963: Clearwater Lake and Grass River provincial parks established.
1964: Asessippi and Birds Hill provincial parks established.
1969: Whiteshell Management Plan.
1972: Conservation-oriented Provincial Park Lands Act.
1974: Beaudry and Hecla/Grindstone provincial parks established.
1976: Nopiming Provincial Park established.
1980: Whiteshell Carrying Capacity Study.
1981: Cat Hills Provincial Forest established.
1983: Hecla/Grindstone Plan
1984: Brightstone Sand Hill Provincial Forest established.
1985: System plan for Manitoba’s parks, to balance “preservation and consumption” activities.
1987: Manitoba’s first wilderness park established: Atikaki.
1992: Natural Lands and Special Places Strategy protects 18 natural regions.
1993: Provincial Parks Act expanded to include four classifications: wilderness park, natural park, recreation park and heritage park.
1995: Caribou River, Sand Lakes and Numaykoos Lake Provincial Parks established.
1997: Amisk Provincial Park Reserve established.
2000: In 2000 and 2001, nine new park reserves were established, totally 190,000 hectares.
2007: Duff Roblin Park Plan established.
2011: Little Limestone Lake Provincial Park established.
2015: Upper Fort Garry Provincial Park established.
2016: Brokenhead Wetland Interpretive Trail opens.
2017: Goose Island and Grand Island Provincial Parks established.