Our history

The history of CPAWS is inextricably linked with the history of the wilderness protection movement in Canada, and with the history of Canada’s national parks themselves.

Initially known as the National and Provincial Parks Association of Canada (NPPAC), CPAWS was formed in 1963 with a focus on revitalizing Canada’s appreciation for wilderness parks. At that time, aside from a few naturalist clubs, not a single national conservation organization in Canada dealt exclusively with wilderness protection. The emergence of the NPPAC also gave conservationists a vehicle through which to promote an aesthetic and ecologically-centered conservation ethic. Since then our role and national network has expanded significantly.

Through the years, CPAWS has been, and continues to be, a key citizens’ group in many decisions relating to the establishment of new parks and wilderness areas, and in obtaining significant conservation outcomes through land-use planning processes in many parts of Canada. Through history our name has been strongly associated with iconic Canadian parks such as Banff, Nahanni, Algonqion, Quetico and Tatshenshini, and with establishing the Muskwa-Kehcnika Management Area. We’ve also had a significant role in many other successful conservation efforts as well, ranging from the establishment of the Forest Stewardship Council to designing land-use planning processes that result in nature protection through a variety of mechanisms.

CPAWS has also been at the forefront of the drive to establish marine protected areas in Canada and played a leading role in the passage of the National Marine Conservation Areas Act, which continues to be Canada’s leading voice for parks and protected areas management.

Our Growth

The establishment of our regional chapters was the beginning of the path toward building the grassroots, volunteer-drive, activist support base that has been the driving force behind so many of our campaigns across the country.

  • Northern Alberta chapter (formerly the Edmonton Chapter) formed in 1968
  • Southern Alberta chapter (formerly the Calgary/Banff Chapter) formed in 1969
  • Manitoba chapter formed in 1970
  • Ottawa Valley chapter formed 1970
  • Saskatchewan chapter formed in 1977
  • British Columbia chapter formed in 1977
  • Wildlands League chapter (formerly Algonquin Wildlands League) formed in 1980
  • Yukon chapter formed in 1991
  • Nova Scotia chapter formed in 1991
  • Northwest Territories formed in 1966
  • SNAP Quebec chapter formed in 2001
  • Newfoundland and Labrador chapter formed in 2003
  • New Brunswick chapter formed in 2004
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CPAWS Presidents
Mr. Frederick A. Wade
Mr. A. P. Frame
Dr. J. Gordon Nelson
Mr. Robin Fraser
Dr. John Marsh
Dr. David Henry
Mr. Bob Peart
Mr. Ted Mosquin
Mr. Harvey Locke
Mr. Juri Peepre
Mr. David Thomson
Ms. Stephanie Cairns
Ms. Sherri Watson
Mr. Oliver Kent
Mr. Michael Robinson
2015- Present