Gannets on Bonaventure Island, 1968
Canadian National Railways
Les Amis des Jardins de Métis Collection
Long before there were parks, there were places of such great natural value that citizens and organizations sought to protect them. The nesting site of the gannets on Bonaventure Island was recognized for its importance long before it was formally protected.
Bird watchers and bird enthusiasts have often led the path to conservation. Organizations like the Province of Quebec Society for the Protection of Birds worked to build awareness of the need to protect birds and their habitats. A bird sanctuary was established on the island in 1919 to protect the birds and their nesting site from disruption and control the collecting of eggs that was a common local practice. The government employed a guardian to stand watch. V.C. Wynne-Edwards, author of the first pamphlet of the birds of Percé, remarked that protection had resulted in an explosion in the gannet population.
Bonaventure Island is today the home to the largest population of gannets in the world – testimony to the preservationists who long ago recognized the importance of protecting a species by protecting their home.