On November 1, 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the creation of a new park in the Porcupine Hills area, the second new provincial park created in the last five years.
The Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport solicited input from stakeholder groups on a potential name for the new park, and groups overwhelmingly supported the concept of naming the park "Porcupine Hills Provincial Park."
This name follows Geographic Names Board of Canada naming conventions which give priority to names well established in local use and descriptive of the area.
The public was welcome to provide comment on the proposed park name until March 30, 2018.
The two park blocks (formerly referred to as Woody River Block and McBride Lake Block) will be named at a later date, as part of the upcoming park management process. Until those names are decided, legislation will simply refer to the two blocks as the East and West blocks. The park management planning process, which will begin in fall 2018, can identify a clear set of naming conventions to acknowledge First Nations historical and current use of the area for one or both of the blocks and/or specific geographic features within the park.
About the Proposed Park
Over the last six years, the Ministry of Parks, Culture and Sport has consulted with First Nations and Métis communities as well as cottagers, campers and surrounding communities about a proposed provincial park in the Porcupine Hills area.
The Porcupine Hills area is located about four hours driving distance from both Regina and Saskatoon. It is along the Manitoba border, just south of Hudson Bay. The proposed park will consist of two blocks, each with its own unique landscape and cultural features. The East block is covered with dense evergreen forests and lakes, several campgrounds, a cottage subdivision and a year-round lodge. It incorporates the existing Woody River Recreation Site plus additional Crown land. The West block has a mixture of open grasslands and mixed aspen, birch and White Spruce forest cover. This block has a number of smaller lakes, two campgrounds and three cottage subdivisions. It incorporates four recreation sites - McBride Lake, Pepaw Lake, Parr Hill Lake and Saginas Lake – as well as surrounding Crown land.
The Porcupine Hills, and in particular the West block section, has a rich cultural history for Aboriginal people. There are no electrified campsites or paved roads within the two blocks, and that's how we plan to keep it. Camping, fishing and hunting are important to the area and fall is busy with hunters seeking bear, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. Hunting will continue as it does today once the park is designated. In the winter months, snowmobiling is also quite popular, with several groomed trails available.
As part of the 1998 Pasquia/Porcupine Integrated Forest Land Use Plan led by the Ministry of Environment, these two blocks of land were removed from the Forest Management Agreement for the purpose of exploring park dedication. Government has sought input from both the public and Aboriginal communities and will continue to work with local groups to conserve the rich cultural, natural and recreational resources. More detailed work with local groups will inform the management planning process once the park is designated.
Dedication as a provincial park will help to raise awareness of the area's significance for the benefit and enjoyment of our residents and visitors alike and will result in an additional 25,800 hectares (63,750 acres) of Crown land being protected as park land.
The input and feedback received from stakeholder groups for naming of the park very clearly pointed the name being "Porcupine Hills Provincial Park". This option follows the Geographic Names Board of Canada's Principles and Procedures for Geographical Naming; primarily – priority is given to names well established in local use.
The question of naming the two separated blocks of the park was also put forward to groups for suggestions. We did receive clear feedback that the two blocks should be named individually, but received a variety of feedback on options for naming those blocks. In particular, a name for the west block seems to require more discussion. It was felt that there is no need to rush into naming of these blocks and that perhaps this work is better to be completed through the park management planning process where we can meet face-to-face with a variety of groups and come to agreement on the best names. In the meantime, the blocks will simply be referred to in the legislation by their location (East and West Blocks). These aren't names that will be used locally, but rather geographical descriptions to help in distinguishing the two blocks in legislation.