Canada's national parks are protected areas established under federal legislation to preserve Canada's natural heritage. Canadians live in a land rich in natural beauty, from great northern landscapes and huge swaths of boreal forest, to temperate rainforests and prairie grasslands.
An ecological reserve is a sub-category within the range of protected areas, and often one that is most protected from human activity.
Signal Hill, overlooking the harbour of St John's, Nfld, was for many years the centre of the town's defences.
Torngat Mountains National Park (established in 2008) encompasses 9700 km2 of Labrador north of Saglek Fiord. Torngat - in Inuktitut, Torngait - refers to one of the most powerful of Inuit spirits believed to dwell in these mountains.
Ukkusiksalik National Park, Nunavut, size 20 500 km2, established in 2003, is located on the northwest side of Hudson Bay.
Tuktut Nogait National Park (established in 1998, 18 181 km2) was created through the efforts of the Inuit of Paulatuk, NWT.
A 1981 agreement between the governments of Canada and Saskatchewan provided for the future establishment of Grasslands National Park, which will eventually encompass 906.4 km2. More than 60% of the lands required for the park have already been acquired on a "willing-seller willing-buyer" basis.
Jasper National Park (established in 1907, size 10 878 km2) rests amid the unforgettable splendour of the Rocky Mountains.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is located in the southern Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the BC mainland. Created in 2003 and formally established in 2010, the park encompasses 36 km2 of land and 26 km2 of adjacent waters.
Located on the Cumberland Peninsula of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Auyuittuq National Park (established 2001, 19 089 km2) was Canada's first national park located north of the Arctic Circle. It was first set up as a national park reserve in 1976 and established as a national park through the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Initially known as Northern Yukon National Park, it was given an Inuvialuit name in 1992. Ivvavik means "place of giving birth and raising young" in reference to the Porcupine Caribou herd that has its calving grounds along the Beaufort Sea coast.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park (established 1936) stretches across the northern tip of Cape Breton Island.
Terra Nova National Park (est 1957, 399.9 km2), Canada's most easterly national park, is located on Bonavista Bay, Nfld. Terra Nova is the Latin form of the name of the island, Newfoundland.
Centred on the wide Thomsen River valley on Banks Island, Aulavik National Park (set aside 1992, 12 200 km2) has an Inuvialuktun name that means "where people travel." The name was suggested by one of the elders of Sachs Harbour, the only community on the island.
Natural History Most of the park islands are the summits of ancient hills of the Frontenac Axis, a strip of Precambrian granite connecting the Canadian Shield with the Adirondack Mountains in New York State.
Bruce Peninsula National Park (established 1987, 156 km2) consists of a former provincial park and private lands acquired on a "willing buyer-willing seller" basis. Over 75% of the total area of the park has been acquired.
Quttinirpaaq National Park (established 1988, 37 775 km2) is Canada's second-largest national park (after Wood Buffalo National Park).
A portion of the Old Crow Plain (locally called the Old Crow Flats) was set aside, through the settlement of the Vuntut Gwitchin comprehensive land claim in 1993, for Vuntut National Park (established 1995, 4345 km2).
Wood Buffalo National Park (established in 1922, 44 802 km2) was established to protect the last herd of wood bison. Canada's largest national park straddles the Alberta/NWT border. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983.
Waterton Lakes National Park (established 1895, 505 km2) is situated in the southwestern corner of Alberta on the Canada-US border. In 1932, this park was united with Montana's Glacier National Park to create the world's first international peace park.
Prince Edward Island National Park (est 1937, 21.5 km2) is a narrow strip of coastline stretching over 40 km along the north shore of PEI.
Point Pelee National Park (est 1918, 15 km2) is located at the tip of Point Pelee, a long peninsula jutting abruptly into Lake Erie near Leamington, Ont, the southernmost tip of Canada's mainland.
Elk Island National Park (established 1913, 194 km2) is a sanctuary of rolling woodlands and meadows dotted with lakes, bogs and ponds, 48 km east of Edmonton.
Kluane National Park and Reserve (est 1972, 22 013.3 km2) is an area of unclimbed peaks, vast ice fields, clear lakes, glaciers and spectacular wildlife.
The wildlife is diverse. The park's marshes, bogs and shallow lakes support more species of reptiles and amphibians than occur anywhere else in Atlantic Canada, including such rarities as the ribbon snake and Blanding's turtle.