“reserved and set apart” Banff National Park
William Wordsworth wrote in 1810 that the English Lake District should be preserved as a national property for “every[one]…who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.” His idea influenced the rise of national parks around the world, including the foundation of Banff National Park in Canada in 1885, and guided the way landscape was imagined and framed across much of the Canadian Pacific Northwest.
Canada became a nation in 1867. Four years later in 1871, the colony of British Columbia joined the confederation of Canada on the condition that a railway would be built to connect it with the rest of the country. During its construction, two important ingredients emerged to create a national park: beautiful mountain scenery and the discovery of hot springs at Banff. In the spirit of Wordsworth, the Canadian government’s Rocky Mountain Park Act in 1887 officially described the lands around the hot springs as "reserved and set apart as a public park and pleasure ground for the advantage and enjoyment of the people of Canada.”
These ideas were institutionalised by two of Canada’s Governor Generals, Lord Dufferin and Lord Lorne, who were also influential members of the National Trust in the late nineteenth century. They supported nature reserves both in Canada and in Britain and promoted the notion that local public landscapes expressed a natural connection to empire.
On display here are promotional postcards selected from SFU Library’s Special Collections. As was the case in Wordsworth Country, postcards were as important as trains, and later automobiles, in making the landscapes of public parks accessible to everyone.
"Panorama of the Bow Valley, Banff," J. Howard A. Chapman, Victoria, BC, 1911.
Hand-coloured photograph of Banff Springs Hotel and Bow Valley, Banff, Canadian Rockies . The Coast Publishing Co., Vancouver, B.C.; Imprime en Allemagne [Germany].
The Banff Springs Hotel, built in 1885, was one of many tourist hotels constructed along the transcontinental rail route by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR).
"Panorama of the Bow River Falls at Tunnel Mt., Banff," J. Howard A. Chapman, Victoria, BC; V. Multi-card fold-out view from top of river bank.
Visit the British Columbia Postcards Collection website to view additional items in the collection.