Taking the Air

Ideas and Change in Canada's National Parks

Table of contents



List of Abbreviations

Introduction: The Meaning of National Parks and the Contexts of Change

Background to the Postwar Era: A Brief History of Canada’s National Parks

National Parks and the Era of State Initiative, 1955-70

National Parks and Public Participation, 1970-79

National Parks and the Initiatives of Organized Interests, 1984-93

Repossession by the State: National Parks and "Reinvented" Government

National Parks and the Giving of Meaning





In Taking the Air, Paul Kopas takes a comprehensive approach to the policy aspects of the management of parks and protected areas. He scrutinizes the policy-making process for national parks since the mid-1950s and interrogates the rationale and policies that have governed their administration. He argues that national parks and park policy reflect not only environmental concerns but also the political and social attitudes of bureaucrats, citizens, interest groups, Aboriginal peoples, and legal authorities. He explores how the goals of each group have been shaped by the historical context of park policy, influencing the shape and weight of their contributions.


This well-written account of the origins and administration of our national parks begins with a challenging assertion that “national parks are about meaning” and goes on to analyse what this meaning might be. […] Forest professionals will find most interest in the chapters detailing the growth and impact of public participation in management decisions during the 1970s and 1980s.

- Roy Strang

This book scrutinizes the policy-making process for national parks since the mid-1950s and integrates the rationale and policies that have governed park administration. … In the context of Canadian nation-building and environmental policy, this book will be useful to policy analysts, planners, academics, and students in fields ranging from environmental studies to tourism and recreation. It will also interest general readers concerned with Canada’s parks and the environment.

- APADE, 2007