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2013 CPAWS J.B. Harkin National Conservation Award Recipient: John Marsh

  • Published on Feb 01 2013 |
  • This article is tagged as: harkin

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society is pleased to confer the J. B. Harkin Medal for Conservation on John Marsh for his extraordinary commitment to parks, wilderness and large landscape conservation, and for the sharing as an educator and mentor of his love for wild places.

For over 50 years, John made and continues to make strong conservation contributions at the local, regional, national and international level, preparing scientific reports to support conservation in these areas. Research and expeditions in Glacier National Park, Selkirk and Monashee Mountains, as well as over 20 presentations, books and articles have contributed significantly to conservation efforts.

John was an early strong proponent of wilderness in Canada, writing articles and making presentations in national publications such as the 1968 and 1980 proceedings of the Canadian National Parks Today and Tomorrow conferences and the 2001 Wilderness Britain conference in Leeds, U.K.  He taught Wilderness Resource Management at Trent University, 1980-2007.  He was an early voice for marine parks with Jon Lien of Newfoundland and Bob Graham of Waterloo.  As a Trent University Professor he led in development of a master’s degree in Canadian Heritage and Development Studies and founded and directed the Trails Study Unit, a resource centre for thousands of trails across Canada. 

John has taken a strong interest in education and interpretation programs in Canada and elsewhere. He was instrumental in the establishment 37 years ago of Interpretation Canada, which involves promotion of direct involvement with cultural and natural heritage. He has spoken and written frequently about protected areas, wilderness and ecotourism in Canada, the Middle East, China, Chile and U.K.  He was heavily involved in the 1989 Master Plan for Parks and Recreation in Peterborough and contributed to protection of Ganaraska Forest, Crowe River Conservation Area and the Trent-Severn Waterway. 

John is a lifelong member of CPAWS.  He was a founding member in 1967 of the Calgary Chapter of National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada (NPPAC), now Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS).  He served on the national board from 1977 - 1984 and as President 1979-1982.  John creatively edited Park News from 1978 -1985, with special publications on The Land Speaks and Snow War.  John served, among other roles, as director of Ontario’s Kawartha Heritage Conservancy, 2003-2006, and provincial appointee to the Advisory Board on the Kawartha Highlands Signature Site (Provincial Park 2003-2005).  John's strong and enduring legacy will be the influence he has had through his words, writings and actions with his students, and the many individuals  he has 'touched' throughout his lifetime.