MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada

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Mabel (MB) Williams was a file clerk when she joined the newly created Dominion Parks Branch, the precursor to Parks Canada, in 1911. Within a decade she was the agency's lead writer of promotional material, and the author of a series of guidebooks that would be the centerpiece for tourism promotion of the national parks, of the Canadian Rockies, and of Canada itself. Soon she was in charge of most of the bureau's publicity work in both print and film. But when her entire female staff was laid off early in the Depression, she resigned in solidarity. Williams spent the rest of her life struggling to make it as an author, succeeding only when she returned to the subject of parks.

MB: Living and Writing the Early Years of Parks Canada is an archive and exhibit that tells the story of an extraordinary, ordinary Canadian. In doing so, it deepens our understanding of a defining era in Canada's environmental history - offering insights, for example, about the development of the national park system and about the life of Grey Owl. What anchors the site is an unusually rich and varied collection of sources from MB's life: more than 30 personal letters, recently archived and as yet little used by historians; 9 published guidebooks, long out-of-print; and an oral interview from 1969, never before heard.