Happy birthday to all of British Columbia’s parks

This year is a very special year for B.C. Parks. On March 1, 2011 B.C. Parks will be celebrating its 100 birthday for the anniversary of the creation of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.

Tweedsmuir Park is located on the door step of the Lakes District and is British Columbia’s largest provincial park covering a total area of 981

Tweedsmuir Park is located on the door step of the Lakes District and is British Columbia’s largest provincial park covering a total area of 981

This year is a very special year for B.C. Parks. On March 1, 2011 B.C. Parks will be celebrating its 100 birthday for the anniversary of the creation of Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island.

Strathcona Provincial Park was established in 1911 and was the first provincial park in the province. According to B.C. Parks, the park was named for Donald Alexander Smith, first Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal. He was a Canadian pioneer and involved in the construction of the Canadian Pacific railway line.

The park covers over 250,000 hectares of forests, mountains and waterways.

B.C. was the first western province to begin establishing provincial parks due to a rise in population and prosperity in the early 1900’s.

By the 1930’s a total of 13 provincial parks were established and another 50 areas in the province were reserved for public recreation, including B.C.’s largest park, Tweedsmuir Park.

On May 24, 1938 Tweedsmuir Provincial Park was established.

It was named for the 15 Governor General of Canada, John Buchan, Baron Tweedsmuir of Elsfield and B.C. Parks say it was inhabited by the Nuxall and Carrier First Nations for thousands of years.

Tweedsmuir Park is located on the door step of the Lakes District and spans a total of 981,000 hectares.

Between 1951 and 1957 over 70 roadside parks were established in B.C., these parks were designed to be easily accessible to the traveling public.

As of 2011, 13.5 million hectares of B.C.’s land base is protected. There are more than 340 campgrounds province wide in the B.C. Park’s system.

B.C. Parks have celebrations and events planned across the province this year in order to celebrate the 100 birthday milestone and are working in conjunction with many communities, First Nations, youth, arts and heritage groups as well as tourism groups to bring celebrations into communities.

B.C. Parks also say that people can celebrate the anniversary by visiting a local park, camping, hiking, sightseeing or wildlife viewing.

“The B.C. Parks centennial in 2011 is an opportunity to bring British Columbians together to celebrate the role, both past and present that our province’s parks have played in making British Columbia world renowned,” said Minister of Environment, Murray Coell.

“More importantly, I encourage everyone to join in and help build a legacy for future generations, who in their time will take up the challenge to share in the stewardship of the natural and cultural resources that we all recognize and value in what is a world class parks system,” he added.

Local events planned for 2011 include the Tweedsmuir Trek. The trek is an annual event which started in 1989. The Tweedsmuir Trek is held by the Rotary Club of Burns Lake as part of their contribution to the International Exchange Program.

Visiting students from around the world are taken by boat into the park to experience the area.

Annually, local students along with Rotarians from the Burns Lake club as well as B.C. Parks staff act as hosts for exchange students in order to discover the area. During 2011 exchange students will also be able to celebrate the 100 anniversary of the provincial parks system during the Tweedsmuir Trek.

The Tweedsmuir Trek starts Aug. 19, 2011 and ends Aug. 24, 2011.

The Lakes District also has a number of other provincial parks on its doorstep including the Burns Lake Provincial Park, which was established in 2001, the EF Wilson Park, established in 1953, and the Dead Man’s Island Provincial Park which was established in 1933.

Also in the area is the Babine Lake Marine Provincial Park which covers 37 hectares of land, including 16 campsites. The park was established in 1993 and is open from May through to September.

The Francois Lake Provincial Park, established in 1999 covers a total of 7,214 hectares and offers fishing, hiking, horseback riding opportunities, swimming and a number of picnic areas.

The Uncha Mountain Red Hills Provincial Park, established in 2001 covers 9,421 hectares of forest land. According to B.C. Parks the Uncha Mountain Provincial Park offers visitors an opportunity to view rare plants and numerous wildlife communities.

The Sutherland Provincial Park, located along the Sutherland River and Babine Lake spans an area that covers 18,394 hectares. The park offers visitors a variety of activities including fishing, canoeing and hiking.

B.C. Parks say the anniversary year is a perfect time to get out and explore provincial parks and celebrate 100 years of conservation.