My years with CPAWS

by Gordon Nelson

My years with CPAWS extend back to 1964 and its beginnings as the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada (NPPAC).  As President from about 1970 to 1974 I had numerous memorable experiences.  Outstanding among them was the holding of the first National Parks Conference, jointly with U of Calgary and NPPAC in 1968.  Knowledgeable people participated from around the world, Europe, South American, the U.S., Alaska, Africa and many parts of Canada.  This event helped put NPPAC on the map and got national and international publicity, notably through the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).  Proceedings were published and set the stage for more research and evidence-based work on park and wildland issues by NPPAC and later CPAWS.   The dinner was held in the Palliser, at the time the traditional grand western hotel, four or five storeys with a bar on the top.  And some hitching posts still standing, not many streets away.

I also vividly remember deciding on inaugurating the Harkin award with one of the founders of NPPAC, Al Frame, and Gavin Henderson, then Executive Director.  The first award was given to Jean Chretien at a well attended ceremony held, as I recall, at the Royal York Hotel.  In making the presentation I turned the wrong way and Chretien and I spent a few minutes searching for one another on the platform!

It has been a pleasure to participate for so many years in NPPAC/CPAWS and to see its contributions grow in stature and importance.