Better know a Canadian functionary: the CEO of Parks Canada and its antecedents

Canada’s first national park, Banff National Park, was founded in 1885. At the time, it was administered through the Dominion Lands Bureau of the Department of the Interior. After five more national parks were founded (Glacier, Yoho, Waterton Lakes, Thousand Islands and Jasper) their responsibility was transferred to the Forestry and Irrigation Branch in 1908 before the Dominion Forest Reserves and Parks Act of 1911 established the independent Dominion Parks Branch, the first standalone national parks authority in the world. (The USA’s National Parks Service was founded by act of Congress in 1916.) The Dominion Parks Branch went on to take control of Canada’s national historic sites when it founded the Advisory Board for Historic Site Preservation in 1919 (later renamed the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada); its first site was a place near Port Dover, ON, where Lake Erie was claimed for France in 1670.

The national parks administrator has had many renamings. From the original Dominion Parks Branch in 1911, it was known as the Canadian National Parks Branch in 1921, the National Parks Branch in 1926, the National Parks Bureau in 1936, the National Parks Service in 1947, the National and Historic Sites Division in January 1950, back to the National Parks Branch in November 1950, the National and Historic Resources Branch in 1965, the National and Historic Parks Branch in 1966, the Parks Canada Program in 1973, the Canadian Parks Services Branch in 1984, and the Parks Canada Agency in 1998. It was a part of the Department of the Interior until 1936, when it moved to the Department of Mines and Resources, then to the Department of Resources and Development in 1950, the Department of Northern Affairs and Natural Resources in 1953, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs in 1966, the Department of the Environment in 1979, the Department of Canadian Heritage in 1994, and back to Environment Canada in 2003.

The heads of the incarnations of Parks Canada have been known as the Commissioner (1911-36), the Controller (1936-50), the Chief (Jan-Nov 1950), the Director (1950-1973), the Director-General (1973-98) and the CEO (since 1998). Those people have been:

James Bernard Harkin, 1911-36.
Frank H.H. Williamson, 1936-41.
James Smart, 1941-53.
James A. Hutchinson, 1953-57.
J.K.B. Coleman, 1957-68.
John I. Nicol, 1968-78.
Al Davidson, 1978-85.
J.D. Collinson, 1985-90.
Aimée Lefebvre-Anglin, 1990-93.
Tom Lee, 1993-2002.
Alan Latourelle, 2002-now.


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