The history of Ontario’s provincial parks goes back over a hundred years when, in 1893 Algonquin Park, Ontario’s first provincial park was created as a forest reserve, preserving the provinces' fish and game and to be used for public use. In 1913 The Parks Act sets aside land not suitable for agriculture or settlement. By 1978 Cabinet had approved Planning and Management Policies giving Ontario one of the world’s leading and most innovative parks planning systems. The Ontario Parks system is often used as the model for other parks systems in North America and is one of the best in the world. This can be attributed to its delicate balance of recreation, preservation, and conservation. By 1983 this new planning system leads to the creation of 155 new parks. This new planning system leads to the designation of 155 new parks by 1983 and by 2001 there are 280 parks in Ontario encompassing over 7.1 million hectares of land or roughly 9% of the total province, or roughly the size of Nova Scotia. Ontario Parks' mandate is to ensure that significant natural, cultural, and recreational environments are protected and that these areas allow and encourage recreational activities for visitors. As of 2006, Ontario Parks manages 69 recreational parks, 4 historical parks, 67 natural environment parks, 93 natural reserves, 29 waterway parks, and 8 wilderness reserves.Almost 10 million people visit Ontario’s Provincial Parks annually.
Provincial Parks in Southern Ontario
For the purpose of this website only Operating Parks in the Southern Ontario Region are featured, Operating Parks charge fees, offer facilities and services for visitors and have staff on site. Non-Operating Parks do not charge fees or have staff on site and only limited facilities. For more information on Provincial Parks visit: http://www.ontarioparks.com/english/index.html