A compact little book about the big picture of Prince Edward Island National Park is about to make its debut in honour of the park’s 75th anniversary.
Prince Edward Island National Park: Past and Present, which is being launched by Parks Canada, the Parks and People Association and Acorn Press on July 11, showcases a timeless collection of then-and-now snapshots as well as stunning landscape and wildlife images.
“What we wanted to do was create a memento that celebrated 75 years of P.E.I. National Park,” says Frances Gertsch, manager of visitor experience for P.E.I. National Park.
The idea for the book came out of some brainstorming sessions last year about possible projects, activities and celebrations relating to the 75th anniversary of the park.
“We had two audiences in mind: one was the visitor to P.E.I. National Park who is really excited about their experience (here) . . . and they want a memento . . . ,” Gertsch says.
“The other audience for the book was people who had been part of the P.E.I. National Park over the last 75 years, whether it’s through family holidays or they’ve worked here (in the park), something that says, ‘Wow, this is a special year and this really is a special place and a place that I have a great connection with.
“We also looked at the market and looked at books that have been successful with the market that we have, which is visitors to P.E.I. and people
in P.E.I. and thought, ‘What makes the most sense?’ And we’ve seen books like this be quite successful . . .”
The $16.95 price of the book itself was also deemed as one that people would be comfortable to pay for a permanent photographic piece of P.E.I. National Park history.
The book features 77 pages of photos taken by leading Canadian photographers John Sylvester, Stephen Desroches and Barrett and MacKay as well images from the Public Archives and Records Office of P.E.I., Library and Archives Canada, the David and Michelle Thompson Collection and the L.M. Montgomery Collection at the University of Guelph.
“We wanted to make sure we had the diversity of the natural and cultural heritage, all of the parts of the park. And so we started with a really broad range of photos to choose from and then as we narrowed it down we were looking for specific images that might tell a piece of the story that wasn’t there already and so we brought in a local photographer (to shoot those),” Gertsch says.
One of the diverse features of the park is Dalvay-By-The-Sea.
“Dalvay-By-The-Sea National Historic Site is within P.E.I. National Park; it has been since the establishment of the park ad so it was part of the story that we really wanted to tell about the park,” Gertsch says.
“And so we’ve got a section on Dalvay and we’ve got a section on Greenwich, which is the most recently established (section) of the park, and Green Gables (National Historic Site) and Green Gables Golf Course, they’re all included in there because they’re part of that story and they’re part of the national park. . . .”
The natural and cultural history of P.E.I. National Park is also explained through small snippets of storytelling text throughout the book as well.
“We looked at a number of places and stories that we felt were important to tell (but) we didn’t want it to be a really text-heavy book. What we were looking at was to draw that emotion and connection out that people have to the place and that’s really easily done with personal memories and personal connections and the awe-inspiring images that we see in the book,” Gertsch says.
“And there are some stories that we thought should be told about Dalvay, about Green Gables, about the golf course, about Greenwich, and so there are small blurbs, even about tourism and the role that the national park has played in tourism on Prince Edward Island . . .
“They tell the story and hopefully they inspire people to want to learn a little bit more or want to go back to that place and rekindle that connection.”