Gatineau Park is an oddball in the Canadian Park System



Currently Gatineau Park is administered by the National Capital Commission funded by the Canadian taxpayers. The park is 361 sq. km. (139 sq. mi) that extends north and south from the city of Gatineau, a mere few minutes from the home of Monique and Norm where we were staying.

The Government of Canada maintains a conference centre at Meech Lake, in the park. It is known as Wilson House. It was the site of the famously failed Meech Lake accords which were a dismally failed attempt to reform the Constitution of Canada in 1987 under the “leadership’ of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. I remember those times well and was very disappointed they were not approved. I feared that failure might lead to the break-up of Canada. Later I realized there were very good reasons for it to fail. Elijah Harper an MLA in Manitoba was instrumental in that failure when he attended a historic vote in the Manitoba legislature, coached by my old tax professor (yes tax professor) Jack London. Carrying an eagle feather he voted no, thus preventing Manitoba’s government from getting unanimous approval needed at the time in order to meet some forgotten deadline. Harper voted no, because indigenous peoples had not been consulted. In typical Canadian political arrogance at the time the premiers of Canada together with the Prime Minister tried to enact substantial changes to aboriginal rights without even consulting them! Never again, would indigenous people acquiesce to such arrogance.

Gatineau Park is unusual as well because it is not part of the National Park system and therefore does not benefit from protections available under the National Parks Act. There have been in the past significant controversies about the administration of the park that are ongoing. Because it is not part of the parks system there are private residences within it and some of those residents contribute to extensive erosion of shorelines at places like Meech Lake, as well as other lakes.

I never get enough maple leaves. I love the shape of the leaves and the astonishing array of autumn colours. No 2 are ever the same.

I was also not impressed by the numerous roads within the park. Too often it looks like part of a city, not a national park. That is a pity, in my opinion. Nevertheless the park is marked by astounding beauty particularly in autumn when the forest hills blaze with an unreal palette of colours.

Champlain lookout over the glorious Ottawa valley

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