New Park Honours the Legacy of Environmentalist Bob Hunter

Journalist. Conservationist. Rebel. Hero. Bob Hunter was all these things and more. Now, a stunningly beautiful tract of land in Markham has been named in his honor.

The Bob Hunter Memorial Park was officially opened on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Markham.

“More than anything else, Bob Hunter cared about our natural world and the creatures that live in it,” said Brian Denney, CEO, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA).

“It’s fitting that a piece of land as breathtaking as this should be named for him and the work he did to preserve nature. We’re thrilled to see the realization of a dream to honor a man who selflessly did so much for so many.”

Opening ceremony for Bob Hunter Memorial Park
Photo courtesy of City of Markham

In 2005, the Ontario Government announced that it would create a park named for the well-known activist, founding member of Greenpeace and popular television broadcaster in the Rouge River watershed.

In 2010, the Regional Municipality of York gave $6 million to the Rouge Park Alliance and TRCA to restore and develop the Bob Hunter Memorial Park. The funding was part of a larger project being implemented by York Region in Markham.

“We’re proud to have helped create this park – a testament to the work Bob Hunter did and a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his entire life to protecting the environment,” said Wayne Emmerson, York Region Chairman and CEO.

“Finding parkland like this, in the middle of an urban setting, is extremely rare. It is the perfect way to say thank you to him and to his family.”

Opening ceremony for Bob Hunter Memorial Park
Photo courtesy of City of Markham

Led by TRCA, the restoration work included the construction of 6 km of trail, the planting of shrubs and wildflowers, and the creation of numerous wetlands and meadows.

“Bob Hunter was one of the leading and earliest environmental activists,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

“His efforts helped to promote many of the environmental policies in place today, and the need for more sustainable approaches to growth and development,” he added.

“We’re very proud that this park in Markham is dedicated to such a remarkable man, and thankful to our partners who made this possible.”

Montage of images from opening of Bob Hunter Memorial Park
Photos courtesy of City of Markham

Bordered to the north by the 407, to the south by Steeles Avenue, to the west by the Canadian Pacific Railway line and to the east by little Rouge Creek, the park is 192.678 hectares (476.119 acres) in size and will provide a gateway into Rouge National Urban Park once TRCA completes the transfer of lands to Parks Canada.

“We are grateful to be a part of the celebrations,” said Pam Veinotte, Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park.

“We are also deeply honored and proud that these lands, recognizing the legacy of Bob Hunter, will in the future become part of Canada’s first national urban park.”