Back in February I explained how I am using interactive timelines to more easily analyze the develop of state and provincial park systems in the United States and Canada. In “Visualizing a Park System: Creating an Interactive Timeline,” I explained how I developed a label/colour system (see below) and mapped the development of Pennsylvania’s state park system temporally.

Timeline Categories

At the time I was interested to see how this method would work for my other three park system case studies: Ontario, Idaho, and Alberta. I am currently halfway through creating a timeline for Ontario. I am finding the task to be more difficult for Ontario than it was for Pennsylvania for three main reasons:

  1. Ontario has over 250 provincial parks, over one hundred more than Pennsylvania.
  2. Background information on individual Ontario parks is harder to find, particularly for those in the nature reserve and natural environment classes. (Does this lack of information say something about the Ontario park system?)
  3. I have found it necessary to create two timelines for Ontario. One that organizes the parks by the Ontario Parks six-tier classification system (wilderness, nature reserve, cultural heritage, natural environment, waterway, and recreational) and one that seeks to organize the parks by the type of land that they were created on like I did for Pennsylvania’s park system. The second timeline is proving difficult to complete because of the lack of information on each park.

One of the main differences between Ontario and Pennsylvania that I am noticing so far is the number of parks that were created for purely conservation/preservation reasons.

As I showed in the first post, in Pennsylvania the number of parks created for preservation (RED) is very low and only begins to pick up in the 1980s:

Timeline Capture III

Timeline Capture IV

Timeline Capture VI

In contrast, the Ontario park system seems to have a much larger portion of parks created to preserve a specific landscape or natural landmark:

Ontario Conservation Park

In my opinion, this shows one of two things. First possibility is that it is accurate and it demonstrates the fact that Ontario was working with a much larger and less-developed land base than Pennsylvania. Secondly, it could demonstrate that Ontario Parks are not as forthright with the history of industrial and other land uses on their park lands as Pennsylvania is on their official park system website and more research is necessary to create a more accurate portrayal of the development of Ontario’s park system.

As I said, I’m only halfway through Ontario’s timeline. I’ll write a follow-up once it is complete.

Published by Jessica M. DeWitt

Dr. Jessica M. DeWitt is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States. She is passionate about the use of digital technologies to bridge the gap between the public and researchers. In addition to her community and professional work, she offers various editing and social media consultancy services.

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