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The roots of Banff National Park

The Story

In the fall of 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway construction workers discovered hot springs in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. Two years later, the federal government established a protected area called the Banff Hot Springs Reserve and created Canad's first national park. This 1985 report from CBC-TV's This Land: A Passion for Parks explores the origins of the park.

Medium: Television
Program: This Land
Broadcast Date: June 6, 1985
Host: John Foster
Duration: 4:43

Did You know?

• The three railway workers who discovered the hot springs at the base of Sulphur Mountain were William McCardell, Thomas McCardell and Frank McCabe.

• The government of Canada didn't want to stop the commercialization of Banff as much as it wanted to benefit directly. As John Foster explains in this clip, "There was a feeling at the time that the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) would bring the tourists to the mountains and that the country and the railway would benefit from the revenues which followed."

• In 1886 the Grand View Villa and bathhouse, later known as the Grand View Hotel, was built near the hot springs. Between 1901 and 1961 the building was twice destroyed by fire, rebuilt and modified several times. 

• Established in 1885, Banff National Park is Canada's oldest national park. By Prime Minister John A. Macdonald's decree, it was made a small, protected reserve that covered 26 square kilometres (10.04 square miles). In 1887 the area was increased to 673 square kilometres (259.84 square miles) and named Rocky Mountains Park.





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