Kouchibouguac National Park, situated on the east coast in Kouchibouguac, was established in 1969 to protect delicate sand dunes and bogs. At that time, regulations required the relocation of all permanent residents for a park to be founded. The majority of these residents were Acadians, descendants of those who had been deported by the British in the 18th century. Consequently, Parks Canada faced significant challenges in expropriating land from numerous property owners who resided in seven communities, totaling around 215 families and over 1,200 individuals.
Officials viewed these residents as impoverished and believed they would benefit from starting anew elsewhere. The government condescendingly developed courses to help them lead more productive lives, thinking this would rehabilitate them. However, the residents resisted, causing the park to be shut down multiple times. One notable figure was Jackie Vautour, who became a folk hero after his home was bulldozed in 1976 and he returned to squat on the land in 1978.
Each year, the park’s diverse activities draw thousands of visitors. Kouchibouguac offers various attractions, such as bogs, a boardwalk trail, hiking and bicycle trails, campgrounds, canoe and boat launches, and the Cap-St-Louis fishing port. Kelly’s Beach, an expansive sand dune, is popular among naturists seeking privacy and seclusion. Nonetheless, the park’s beauty cannot erase the anguish of former residents, whose story is now shared in a permanent exhibit at the Visitor Centre.
The park’s name is derived from the Mi’kmaq language, as reflected in the Kouchibouguac River, which translates to “river of the long tides.” This naming decision was met with opposition from local Acadians who desired a name that better represented their identity, such as Claire-Fontaine, one of the obliterated communities.
In response to the park’s controversy, Parks Canada amended its regulations to ensure no one would ever again face forced relocation.
Kouchibouguac National Park is open year-round.
This post has already been read 2308 times!