Canada's National Parks are offering free admission to everyone around the world this year to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary. This means that you and your children can boat on historic canals, snorkel with seals, watch whales, swim with salmon for science, meander through salt plains, attend a kite workshop, listen to maritime music, attend an art retreat through Art in the Park or join an artist residency program and so much more under the starry Canadian sky. National parks are a great place to find happiness for the whole family (and this article is a part of a series called the Whole Family Happiness Project).
Canada boasts thirty-nine National Parks and eight National Park Reserves, Parks Canada's website explains the parks this way: "National Parks are a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations. National Parks have existed in Canada for well over a century." Free admission this year permits individuals a Discovery Pass which is good for admission to all of Canada's National Parks, Historic Sites, and Maritime Conservation Areas from coast to coast.
Parks Canada really does offer something for everyone. Youthful travelers can volunteer to participate in archaeological projects, to count butterflies, to monitor frogs and at-risk animal species or to lend a hand with period costume restoration. Families can pretend to work for the Hudson Bay company in the 1800s at Fort Langley Historical Site and try their hands at blacksmithing and barrel-making. Or they can mountain bike through Jasper National Park.
Or if food and drink are more your thing, you can whiskey taste at Fort Wellington National Historic Site or rum taste at Fortress Louisbourg National Historic Site or learn to lobster boil at Cape Breton Highlands National Park while watching the sun set over the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
And of course Canada's National Parks offers accommodations from rustic camp sites to all-inclusive resorts--many of which are extremely sustainable, environmentally friendly and carbon neutral. The geometry and design of the buildings are worth noting, as they range from tents to cubes to cocoons to water-droplet-shaped dwellings, as can be seen on this slide show: