Parks Canada (French: Parcs Canada), also known as the Parks Canada Agency (French:Agence Parcs Canada), is a Government of Canada agency that is mandated to protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada's natural and cultural heritage and foster public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure their ecological and commemorative integrity for present and future generations. Parks Canada manages 42 National Parks (including seven National Park Reserves), three National Marine Conservation Areas, one National Landmark, and 167 National Historic Sites of Canada.
Parks Canada was established in 1911 as the Dominion Parks Branch under the Department of the Interior, becoming the world's first national park service. Since then it has been formerly known as the National Parks Branch, and the Canadian Parks Service. Parks Canada activities are regulated under the provisions of the Canada National Parks Act, which was enacted in 1930, and amended in 2000.
Also known as the Parks Canada Agency since its establishment as a separate service agency in 1998, Parks Canada now falls under the responsibility of Environment Canada. Before 2003, Parks Canada (under this and various names) fell under the jurisdiction of the Department of Canadian Heritage, where it had been since 1994. From 1979 to 1994, Parks Canada was part of the Department of Environment, and before it was part of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (1966 to 1978), and the Department of the Interior. With the organizational shifts and political leadership in Canada, the priorities of Parks Canada have shifted over the years more towards conservation and away from development. Starting in the 1960s, Parks Canada has also moved to decentralize its operations.