Notes for an address celebrating the opening of Thousand Islands National Park

May 25, 2013

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great pleasure that I am here with you today as we celebrate Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.

I am delighted to be here representing the Honourable Peter Kent, Canada’s Minister of Environment and Minister responsible for Parks Canada.

Minister Kent has asked me to convey his best regards and to tell you how proud he is of our government’s role in the stewardship and presentation of Canada’s treasured natural and historic places

We are in the traditional summer home of Haudenosaunee and Mississauga Anishinaabe, a place where nature and culture intermingle, a place of northern wilderness, just a few hours from major urban centres like Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa.

The Thousand Islands region is of significant importance in the natural and cultural makeup of our nation.

It is internationally recognized by UNESCO for its biodiversity,

it offers some of the best fresh water scuba diving anywhere,

it has a rich culture that can be dated back thousands of years,

and it continues to attract visitors by the tens of thousands every summer.

This park, the first national park of Canada east of the Rockies, created as a result of the efforts from residents of the Thousand Islands and with support from the Mohawk community, was established in 1904.

To the Mohawk, this area is known as Tsitkawenoton (Geet-ga-way-NO-doo), which means “many islands.”

With the arrival of Europeans, the name Thousand Islands was added to world maps, and for the past 109 years, to local people like you, and me, this park has been Thousand Islands National Park.

And now, we are even more proud to open our season for the first time officially as Thousand Islands National Park!

Tourism is a vital economic driver for our region and it supports many small and locally owned family businesses.

Nationally, Parks Canada is the largest tourism provider in Canada.

Our country’s national parks and national historic sites form key cornerstones of small town tourism industries from coast to coast to coast.

The growth potential for Canadian tourism is huge, based on the projected increase in international travellers over the next few years.

Total global travellers are expected to reach some 1.6 billion by 2020, and Canada has a competitive advantage.

We provide a safe place for people to travel and offer some of the world’s best natural and cultural sites and experiences. Among these are the Thousand Islands.

About 98 per cent of Canada’s tourism sector is made up of small and medium-sized businesses such as boat tour operators, campground owners, marina operators and others.

Just take a look at our local communities in the Thousand Islands and how many businesses here are dedicated to the tourism industry.

Thousand Islands National Park, with its new name, is now better positioned to take advantage of an internationally recognized brand to support, complement, and contribute to the local tourism economy.

Parks Canada is providing a totally new and innovative way to experience camping at Thousand Islands National Park by installing five oTENTik tents throughout the park.

An oTENTik is a hybrid between a tent and a rustic cabin. It easily accommodates up to six people and includes comfortable beds, wooden floors, tables and chairs, a barbeque, solar lighting and unforgettable views -   yet another way for visitors to our region to enjoy our Park and benefit from our hospitality.

The oTENTik accommodations on park islands provide an ideal base camp and private retreat for paddlers exploring the Thousand Islands, or some extra living space for boaters who want to share a getaway with friends and family.

I invite you to take a moment today to explore the oTENTik that is here at Mallorytown Landing. It is located back along the path to the left of the boat launch. It is a great spot for the many cyclists, who travel along the parkway path every summer, to stop and spend a night.

Here at Mallorytown Landing, the park offers short and engaging opportunities for locals and families who have taken a moment to get off the 401.

For these motorists, Thousand Islands National Park offers a relaxing space to play on the breezy banks of the St. Lawrence River.

From picnics to family reunions to an impromptu outing, Mallorytown Landing has all the ingredients for family fun. These ingredients contribute to visitors wanting to come back and even stay longer.

And people who stay longer in the Thousand Islands support local businesses. Local businesses create jobs, and jobs allow our communities to prosper.

The investments the Government of Canada is making here at Thousand Islands National Park translates into even larger investments for dozens of small and medium family-operated businesses throughout the Thousand Islands region, helping our communities prosper

Enjoy your time here at Thousand Islands National Park and thank you for all your contributions to helping our community continue to be appreciated and cherished by visitors from the world over.

Thank you.