An early map of Al­berta’s Banff National Park

An early map of Ban , Canada’s rst and most fa­mous national park

Canadian Geographic - - CONTENTS - *with files from Erika Rein­hardt, ar­chiv­ist, Li­brary and Ar­chives Canada By Harry Wil­son*

MCCARDELL-MCCABE National Park doesn’t ex­actly trip off the tongue. But then it was never likely that the pow­ers-that-be in late 19th-cen­tury Canada were go­ing to name what would be­come the na­tion’s first national park after the Cana­dian Pa­cific Rail­way work­ers who stum­bled across Banff’s now fa­mous hot springs in 1883 — a “dis­cov­ery” (First Na­tions had long been aware of the waters) that was the cat­a­lyst for the for­ma­tion of the coun­try’s national parks sys­tem. In­deed, two years after broth­ers Wil­liam and Thomas Mccardell and Frank Mccabe ex­plored the springs at the base of Sul­phur Moun­tain, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment es­tab­lished a 26-square-kilo­me­tre pro­tected area there, the name of which, while util­i­tar­ian, was also a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the lack of imag­i­na­tion that of­ten plagues bu­reau­cra­cies the world over: Hot Springs Re­serve. The feds’ in­ten­tion was twofold: to pre­serve the un­de­ni­ably en­tranc­ing land­scape (Wil­liam Mccardell had de­scribed the cave por­tion of the springs as be­ing “like some fan­tas­tic dream from a tale of the Ara­bian Nights”) and, with the CPR, to de­velop the area into a tourist des­ti­na­tion to help make the rail­way prof­itable. In 1887, the re­serve was penul­ti­mately re­named — in a does-what-it-says-on-thetin style, of course — Rocky Moun­tains Park and ex­panded to 674 square kilo­me­tres. In 1888, the Banff Springs Ho­tel was com­pleted, and tourists be­gan stream­ing into the re­gion, which the CPR pro­moted as Canada’s Alps, tak­ing a page out of the spa tourism book that had proved so pop­u­lar in Europe. The map shown here, the first topo­graph­i­cal sur­vey of Rocky Moun­tains Park, was printed the same year and shows the bur­geon­ing tourist in­fra­struc­ture around the Banff town­site — roads, trails, the Banff San­i­tar­ium [sic], the newly com­pleted ho­tel, the hot springs at Cave and Basin and the Up­per Hot Springs. By 1895, the moun­tain re­serves that would be­come Yoho, Glacier and Water­ton Lakes national parks had been es­tab­lished, draw­ing still more tourists west. With the for­ma­tion in 1911 of the Do­min­ion Parks Branch — the pre­cur­sor to Parks Canada and the first national parks ad­min­is­tra­tion in the world — pro­tect­ing the spa­ces now so revered in our col­lec­tive con­scious­ness be­came a coastto-coast-to-coast ef­fort. Now that’s a le­gacy the Mccardell broth­ers and Mccabe would no doubt be proud of.

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