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Working for Wildlife

Working for Wildlife: The Beginning of Preservation in Canada

Copyright Date: 1998
Pages: 300
  • Book Info
    Working for Wildlife
    Book Description:

    Foster shows how a small band of dedicated civil servants transformed their own goals of preserving endangered animals into active government policy. The definitive history of the beginnings of wildlife conservation in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8366-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword to the Second Edition
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Lorne Hammond

    Janet Foster and her husband, John, make outstanding nature films to take viewers ‘to the wild country.’ Their renowned visual work and related books allow urban people to keep company with the land and its wildlife. Imbued with respect and a deep commitment to wildlife, the Fosters have worked hard to educate and remind us of our responsibilities to nature. How fortunate we are to have such people in our midst.

    Historians know Janet as the author of this classic in Canadian environmental history, based on her York University doctorate.Working for Wildlife: The Beginning of Preservation in Canadafirst...

  5. Preface to the Second Edition
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Preface to the 1978 Edition
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    ‘We have only realized very late the importance of great truths – that the conservation of our game is as vital a subject for consideration and attention as is the conservation of any other of our natural resources.’¹ These words were spoken in 1919 by Arthur Meighen, Minister of the Interior, at the opening of a national conference in Ottawa on The Conservation of Game, Fur-Bearing Animals, and Other Wild Life. Such a statement, with all of its inherent wisdom, would have been unthinkable in 1885, yet it was reasonable and timely in 1919. Over a period of thirty-four years,...

  8. 2 Parks, Resources, and the Role of Wildlife
    (pp. 16-54)

    Although the government’s concern for wildlife preservation was slow in developing, there was a strong interest in the subject of natural resources in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Two movements were under way in North America during this period in which the Canadian government was directly involved: the establishment of national parks and the conservation of natural resources. The government’s policies in dealing with these new issues not only highlighted its attitude towards ‘wildlands’ and conservation generally, but also demonstrated a lack of knowledge and concern for wildlife. A brief exploration of both the origin of national parks...

  9. 3 Preservation: The Beginning of an Idea
    (pp. 55-73)

    Howard Douglas was appointed Superintendent of Rocky Mountains Park in 1897 and was among the first in government to comprehend the role and importance of wildlife in a dominion park. As Superintendent of Canada’s first national park, he was in a good strategic position to influence government thinking about wildlife preservation.

    There seemed little in Douglas’s background to qualify him for the office of Park Superintendent or to foretell his developing interest and concern for Canada’s wildlife species. Born in Halton, Ontario, in 1853, he worked on the family farm until he was twenty-one, but his real interests lay in...

  10. 4 Towards Better Administration
    (pp. 74-94)

    The administration of Canada’s national parks had become much more complex by 1911. From 1887, when Rocky Mountains Park was established, until 1908, the parks had been administered by their individual park superintendents under the direction and authority of the Minister of the Interior. This was a satisfactory arrangement, since there were only a few, small parks in the late nineteenth century. By 1908, however, there were six, and they were all proving to be of significant national, and international, importance. Accordingly, they were placed, for administrative purposes, under the Forestry Branch and came under the supervision of Forestry Superintendent...

  11. 5 Taking the Initiative
    (pp. 95-119)

    One of the major problems to confront the Parks Branch after 1912 was the declining number of pronghorn antelope on the Canadian prairies. The animals, believed by some writers to have been once as numerous as the buffalo, ranged in Canada on the grassland territory between Manitoba and the Rocky Mountains, and as far north as Edmonton, Alberta.¹ During the nineteenth century, their numbers rapidly declined with the spread of prairie settlement and loss of range land, the building of railways that hindered the animals’ natural migrations, and increasing man-made range fires and indiscriminate shooting by whites and Indians alike....

  12. 6 Protecting an International Resource
    (pp. 120-154)

    The Migratory Birds Convention Act, passed in 1917, was a landmark in the evolution of the Canadian government’s role in wildlife protection. During the previous years, a few specific endangered wildlife species – plains bison, antelope, and wood buffalo – had been successfully protected by the federal government, but such protection had not resulted in a continuing policy for wildlife preservation. In Canada, most public lands, with the exception of national parks and military reserves, came under provincial jurisdiction as defined by the British North America Act. As provincial governments handled their own game administration, there had been little apparent...

  13. 7 New Responsibilities
    (pp. 155-177)

    The job of protecting migratory birds was by no means finished once the Convention Act passed Parliament and the Regulations under the Act were drawn up. It soon became evident that even greater federal intervention was needed to ensure migratory bird protection under the international treaty. Throughout the months of negotiation on the bird protection issue, both Gordon Hewitt and James Harkin had hoped that the various provincial governments would bring their game legislation into harmony with provisions under the Bird Act. With the exception of British Columbia, all the provincial governments had responded favourably to the proposal for bird...

  14. 8 The Sanctuary Idea Broadened
    (pp. 178-198)

    The International Migratory Bird Treaty went a long way towards giving a measure of protection to birds that travelled thousands of miles on their spring and fall migrations. But in both Canada and the United States certain species required greater and more specific protection, and the sanctuary idea that had been of growing interest even while the migratory bird treaty was under negotiation continued to develop.

    The sanctuary idea was not new. Ever since the establishment of national parks in the nineteenth century, the beneficial effects of protection for bird and mammal species had become increasingly apparent. Howard Douglas, as...

  15. 9 Wildlife Conservation Comes of Age
    (pp. 199-219)

    Early in the negotiations between Canada and the United States for migratory bird protection, James Harkin had suggested to the Deputy Minister of the Interior that the government call a convention with the provincial governments to discuss fully the proposed international treaty. Harkin knew provincial approval had to be secured before any treaty was passed, and he told William Cory in 1913 that an informal, round-table discussion between federal and provincial officials would be the best means of achieving agreement.¹ But the convention was never held. The American draft proposal arrived in Ottawa before Harkin’s suggestion could be explored further...

  16. 10 Epilogue
    (pp. 220-224)

    Although the 1922 Dominion Provincial Conference on Wild Life Protection had marked the recognition by government of wildlife’s value, it was to be many more years before well-planned, well-funded government programs for wildlife conservation were to be developed. Public awareness of the importance of wildlife and a growing concern for the environment was also to take many more years to develop. In this respect, Americans were far ahead of Canadians. Both the conservation and preservation movements began in the United States at the turn of the century and since then American naturalists, conservationists, scientists, politicians, and concerned citizens have willingly...

  17. Appendix: The Migratory Birds Convention Act
    (pp. 225-236)
  18. Notes
    (pp. 237-260)
  19. Note on Sources, 1978 Edition
    (pp. 261-264)
  20. Bibliography, 1978 Edition
    (pp. 265-272)
  21. Afterword to the Second Edition, with an Update on Sources
    (pp. 273-286)

    Working for Wildlifeholds up remarkably well. It does what Janet Foster intended it to do, provide a prologue to studying the history of wildlife preservation in Canada. While its primary focus is to deal with events at the federal level between 1885 and 1922, it also suggests directions for research for those interested in understanding our past. The original Note on Sources and Bibliography, while still useful, have become dated. This afterword is intended to supplement that information with a brief selective summary of more recent work and to offer a few comments about current and future directions for...

  22. Index
    (pp. 287-297)