Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada

Places

3. Specific Guidelines: Places

3.1 Extra-Territorial Commemorations
3.2 Commemoration of Cemeteries
3.3 Churches and Buildings Still in Religious Use
3.4 Archaeological Sites
3.5 Facades of Historical Structures Integrated into Modern Developments
3.6 Identification of Historic Districts of National Significance
3.7 Identification of Schools of National Significance
3.8 Monuments Which Themselves Have Commemorative Purpose
3.9 Commemoration of Movable Heritage Property
3.10 Identification of Parks and Gardens of National Significance
3.11 Identification of Rural Historic Districts of National Significance
3.12 Country Grain Elevators
3.13 Assessing Sites Associated with Persons of National Historic Significance
3.14 Built Heritage of the Modern Era
3.15 Framework for Identifying and Assessing Settlement Patterns
3.16 Historic Engineering Landmarks
3.17 Assessing the National Historic Significance of Lighthouses
3.18 Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes
3.19 Shipwrecks of National Historic Significance in Canada

3.1 Extra-Territorial Commemorations

In 1960, the Board considered a proposal for the Government of Canada to take over the General Simcoe family burial ground at Wolford in the United Kingdom.

It was moved, seconded and carried,

That the Board deem it not advisable to recommend historical commemorations outside the boundaries of Canada.

The Board continues to not recommend the designations of sites that are not on Canadian soil, however, the Board has recommended the commemoration of persons and events outside of Canadian territory.

3.2 Commemoration of Cemeteries

Prior to 1990, the Board had long held a policy of not recommending the commemoration of grave sites, save for those of the Fathers of Confederation and those of archaeological significance. The Board recommended in October 1969:

that, in view of the fact that Board [guidelines] excludes from commemoration graves, except for those of Fathers of Confederation, no action can be taken with respect to the Old Loyalist Burial Ground, Saint John, N.B.

In June 1990:

The Board then reaffirmed its long?standing interest in the commemoration of cemeteries and graves of archaeological significance and of the graves of the Fathers of Confederation. Further, following discussion, the Board recommended that its [guidelines] respecting the commemoration of cemeteries be expanded as follows:

that the Board consider eligible for commemoration only those cemeteries which are exceptional examples of designed or cultural landscapes in accordance with the following criteria;

1) it is a cemetery representing a nationally significant trend in cemetery design;

2) it is a cemetery containing a concentration of noteworthy mausolea, monuments, markers or horticultural specimens;

3) it is a cemetery which is an exceptional example of a landscape expressing a distinctive cultural tradition.

3.3 Churches and Buildings Still in Religious Use

For a number of years, churches and other buildings still used for religious purposes were excluded from commemoration; however, in June 1970, the Board recommended that:

in the consideration of churches and other buildings still in use for religious purposes the same [guidelines] of historic and/or architectural significance as in the case of other matters coming before the Board should apply, and that commemoration of such structures should normally be by plaquing only, with the possibility of architectural advice being provided when necessary; only in cases of outstanding historical and/or architectural significance should a recommendation for financial assistance be made.

This recommendation was further refined in June 1976, and in June 1977, when the Board recommended:

that the June 1976 recommendations, which, in summary, state that all religious buildings should be evaluated as any other building using the [guidelines] already established by the Board, be reaffirmed;

that these [guidelines] be applied in a judicious manner so as to provide proper selection of religious buildings for commemoration;

that the following definition of a religious property be adopted:

A religious property is a building whose greater part is in active and frequent use either for public religious worship, or by a religious community or for other religious purposes, whether or not secular events also occur within that building. Any other building which is adjoining or adjacent to it, perceived as part of the same architectural complex, under the same (or related) ownership, and of related use shall be considered as a portion of the same religious property;
that it resist any suggestion to establish quotas based on denominational or regional consideration.

Current guidelines do not, of course, preclude churches and other buildings still used for religious purposes from commemoration.

3.4 Archaeological Sites

In June 1978:
Concerning archaeological sites in general, the Board recommended that a declaration of national significance be based on one or more of the following [guidelines]:

a) substantive evidence that a particular site is unique, or

b) that it satisfactorily represents a particular culture, or a specific phase in the development of a particular cultural sequence, or

c) that it is a good typical example, or

d) that it otherwise conforms to general Board [guidelines] touching the selection of historic sites for national recognition.

3.5 Facades of Historical Structures Integrated into Modern Developments

In November 1986:

The Board then turned to the question of whether facades integrated into modern developments were suitable subjects for commemoration and, if so, under what conditions. Following discussion, the Board expressed its opinion that when the facade of a structure alone is retained, the integrity of the building that once existed has to all intents and purposes been destroyed. Consequently, it recommended that

the facades of historical structures incorporated into contemporary developments are not suitable subjects for commemoration at the federal level, save for those facades that could be considered, in and of themselves, to be of exceptional significance.*

* i.e., facades that are intrinsically works of art of major significance or those that represent a significant technological innovation.

3.6 Identification of Historic Districts of National Significance

In November 1987, the Board adopted the following definition and guidelines:

Historic districts are geographically defined areas which create a special sense of time and place through buildings, structures and open spaces modified by human use and which are united by past events and use and/or aesthetically, by architecture and plan.

1) Historic districts constitute appropriate subjects for commemoration, and those of national significance will include one or more of the following:

a) a group of buildings, structures and open spaces, none of which singly need be of national architectural significance, but which, when taken together, comprise a harmonious representation of one or more styles or constructions, building types or periods;

b) a group of buildings, structures and open spaces, none of which may be of individual historical significance, but which together comprise an outstanding example of structures of technological or social significance;

c) a group of buildings, structures and open spaces which share uncommonly strong associations with individuals, events or themes of national significance.

2) Above all, an historic district of national significance must have a "sense of history": intrusive elements must be minimal, and the district's historic characteristics must predominate and set it apart from the area that immediately surrounds it.

3) A commemorated historic district will be subject to periodic review in order to ensure that those elements which define its integrity and national significance are being reasonably maintained.

3.7 Identification of Schools of National Significance

In November 1988, the Board agreed that:

in order to be considered for possible commemoration on grounds of national historic and/or architectural significance, a school, be it rural public, urban public, private or [Aboriginal] must meet one or more of the [specific guidelines] which follow.

1) The school building or complex (and its setting) retains its integrity and is representative of type, particularly in the relationship of form to function.

2) The school building or complex (and its setting) retains its integrity and is representative of significant developments or changes in educational practices and theory which found expression through architectural design.

3) The school building or complex is a superior example of an architectural style prominent in the context of Canadian architecture.

4) The school building or complex is of national historic significance by virtue of its associations with:

a) prominent Canadian educators;
b) important and innovative educational practices;
c) a number of individuals who, over time, graduated from it and gained prominence in later life.

3.8 Monuments Which Themselves Have Commemorative Purpose

In November 1989, the Board considered the possible significance of the Welsford-Parker Monument in Halifax, deferred from the previous June.

Following considerable discussion, the Board recommended that:

as a matter of policy, it not consider commemorating monuments unless those monuments were, intrinsically, works of art or architecture of national historic and/or architectural significance.

The Board shared the Committee's belief, however, that it would be entirely appropriate for it to make a monument the focus of a commemoration of a nationally significant aspect of Canadian history, if the monument were closely associated with the subject of commemoration and appeared to be the most appropriate location at which to recognize its significance. In such cases, it was suggested that the commemorative plaque be erected on a plinth or stand so as not to detract from the monument itself.

3.9 Commemoration of Movable Heritage Property

In July 2003, the Board replaced the former 1991 guidelines with the following:
Nominations of large-scale movable heritage properties, particularly those that are in essence fixed at a specific place (excepting movement related to conservation), will be evaluated against the Board's standard criteria for sites of national historic significance. Only on an exceptional basis would large-scale movable heritage properties that remain mobile and easily moved, or frequently moved for reasons not related to conservation, be considered candidates for national commemoration, and then more probably as "events."

3.10 Identification of Parks and Gardens of National Significance

In November 1994, the Board recommended that:

A park or a garden may be considered of national significance because of:

1) the excellence of its aesthetic qualities;

2) unique or remarkable characteristics of style(s) or type(s) which speak to an important period or periods in the history of Canada or of horticulture;

3) unique or remarkable characteristics reflecting important ethno?cultural traditions which speak to an important period or periods in the history of Canada;

4) the importance of its influence over time or a given region of the country by virtue of its age, style, type, etc.;

5) the presence of horticultural specimens of exceptional rarity or value;

6) exceptional ecological interest or value;

7) associations with events or individuals of national historic significance;

8) the importance of the architect(s), designer(s), or horticulturalist(s) associated with it.

The Board stated, however, that it expected the case for national commemoration of any garden or park would not rest solely on one of the eight guidelines adopted, save in the most exceptional of circumstances.

Further, with respect to guidelines 7) and 8) above, the Board felt that normally it would be more appropriate to recognize gardens and parks whose national significance derived from their associative values with individuals (architects/designers) or events of national significance through commemoration of the individuals or events themselves at the garden or park in question.

3.11 Identification of Rural Historic Districts of National Significance

In November 1994, the Board adopted the following:

Definition
Rural historic districts are geographically definable areas within a rural environment which create a special sense of time and place through significant concentrations, linkages and continuity of landscape components which are united and/or modified by the process of human use and past events.

[Guidelines] Rural historic districts of national significance:

1) contain a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of landscape components, which when taken together comprise an exceptional representation and/or embody the distinctive characteristics of types, periods, or methods of land occupation and use, illustrating the dynamics of human interaction with the landscape over time; and/or

2) contain a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of landscape components, which when taken together comprise an outstanding example of a landscape of technological or social significance; and/or

3) contain a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of landscape components which share common associations with individuals or events of national significance.

3.12 Country Grain Elevators

In November 1995, the Board adopted the following:

A row of country grain elevators may be considered to be of national significance if:

1) the row is comprised of three or more adjacent elevators;

2) all the elevators in the row were built before 1965;

3) all the elevators in the row are substantially intact, mechanically and architecturally;

4) the row of elevators is accessible and stands on a rail line in a rural context within a grain growing region;

5) the row has some symbolic value in the region.

The Committee and the Board agreed ... that there might well be elevators brought forward for consideration, either individually or in groups, which did not meet the above [guidelines], but, which, because of technological, architectural or historical importance, clearly merited review. They also agreed that, should such situations arise, it would be reasonable to assess them on an individual basis . . .

The members then discussed the importance of attempting to ensure that any rows of country grain elevators designated by the Board had a chance of surviving intact over the long term.

3.13 Assessing

The following guidelines first adopted in June 1996, and later amended in June 2001:

1: The National Significance of the Associated Individual

1.1 The national significance of an individual should be the key to designating places associated with them; the nominated sites must communicate that significance effectively.

1.2 A nominated site should be assessed for all its pertinent associative and physical values.

2: Types of Association and their Evaluation

2.1 For a site to be designated for its association with a nationally significant person, the nature of the association will be important, and will be one or a combination of the following:

  • A site directly and importantly associated with a person's productive life often best represents his or her significant national contribution.
  • A birthplace, a childhood home, or a site associated with a person's formative or retirement years should relate persuasively to the national significance of the person.
  • A site that is attributed to be the source of inspiration for an individual's life work requires scholarly judgement of that relationship.
  • A site associated with a consequential event in a person's life must be demonstrably related to his national significance.
  • A site that has become a memorial (that is, that has symbolic or emotive associations with a nationally significant person) must demonstrably speak to the significance of the person in the eyes of posterity.

2.2 When a nominated site is reviewed for its association with a nationally significant person, all sites prominently associated with the individual will be compared, with a view to choosing the site(s) that best tell(s) the national historic significance of the individual.

2.3 Where the associated individual is the designer of the site, and their national significance lies with that aspect of their lives, then the nominated site should be evaluated for physical as much as associative values.

3: Related Commemorations at One or More Places

3.1 A long, complex or multi-faceted life can warrant more than one commemoration, provided nationally significant aspects of that life are reflected in each of the commemorations.

4: The Test of Integrity

4.1 A site must retain sufficient integrity or authenticity to convey the spirit of the place, and/or to tell the story of the national significance of the person.

4.2 The richness of association of the individual, or the closeness of the identification of the individual with the nominated site, may override degrees of physical modifications to the site.

4.3 A site that has symbolic and emotive associations with a nationally significant person may be designated for that association where the degree of compelling emotive attachment is established by research and analysis.

3.14 Built Heritage of the Modern Era

In November 1997, the Board recommended the following guidelines:

A building, ensemble or site that was created during the modern era may be considered of national significance if it is in a condition that respects the integrity of its original design, materials, workmanship, function and/or setting, insofar as each of these was an important part of its overall intentions and its present character; and

1) it is an outstanding illustration of at least one of the three following cultural phenomena and at least a representative if less than an outstanding illustration of the other two cultural phenomena of its time:

a) changing social, political and/or economic conditions;
b) rapid technological advances;
c) new expressions of form and/or responses to functional demands; or

2) it represents a precedent that had a significant impact on subsequent buildings, ensembles, or sites.

Under normal circumstances, the Board will not consider a building, ensemble, or site that meets the above [guidelines] unless five years have passed since the death of those responsible for its design.

3.15 Framework for Identifying and Assessing Settlement Patterns

In November 1997:

The Board noted that this paper provided a useful and clear elaboration of [guidelines] for a multifarious subject and requested that any future briefing materials on priority sub?themes related to settlement patterns follow this framework.

The Board then accepted (with minor changes as bolded below) the subtypes of the categorical framework for settlement patterns proposed in Mr Mills paper as well as the [guidelines] for settlement pattern commemoration.

The subtypes are: Patterns of Distribution; Dispersed Rural Settlement; Nucleated Settlement Patterns -Hamlets and Villages; and, Nucleated Settlement Patterns-Towns and Cities.

The [guidelines] proposed to provide a conjectural framework for identifying settlement patterns of possible national significance are: Historical/ Precontact Associations; Representative Characteristics; and, Resource Integrity and Completeness.

The definitions, characteristics, subtypes and specific guidelines for identifying and assessing settlement patterns are found in the report entitled "Canadian Settlement Patterns, Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Framework Study" (Fall 1997).

3.16 Historic Engineering Landmarks

In November 1997, "Historic Engineering Landmarks Project, Consultations on Prioritizing Sites for Potential Commemoration" was presented to the Board, which approved the following:

Resources will be assessed primarily for their engineering significance, but also for their historical significance with respect to their impact on Canadian history and Canada's development. A forty-year rule is also applied to preclude the selection of engineering landmarks of the present era.

To merit inclusion on the list of engineering landmarks, a site has to meet one or more of the following guidelines:

  • embody an outstanding engineering achievement;
  • be intrinsically of outstanding importance by virtue of its physical properties;
  • be a significant innovation or invention, or illustrate a highly significant technological advance;
  • be a highly significant Canadian adoption or adaptation;
  • be a highly challenging feat of construction;
  • be the largest of its kind at the time of construction, where the scale alone constituted a major advance in engineering;
  • have had a significant impact on the development of a major region in Canada;
  • have particularly important symbolic value as an engineering and/or technical achievement to Canadians or to a particular Canadian cultural community;
  • be an excellent and early example, or a rare or unique surviving example, of a once-common type of engineering work that played a significant role in the history of Canadian engineering; and/or
  • be representative of a significant class or type of engineering project, where there is no extant exceptional site to consider for inclusion.

3.17 Assessing the National Historic Significance of Lighthouses

In December 1998, the Board approved the following guidelines:

A lighthouse or light station may be considered of potential national historic significance if its current physical context and historic integrity respect or potentially respect its ability to meet two or more of the following guidelines:

1) It illustrates a nationally important historical theme in maritime navigation.
2) It is an important engineering achievement related to its primary functions.
3) It is a superior or representative example of an architectural type.
4) It is nationally symbolic of the Canadian maritime tradition.

3.18 Aboriginal Cultural Landscapes

In June 1999, the Board recommended the following definition and guidelines:

An Aboriginal cultural landscape is a place valued by an Aboriginal group (or groups) because of their long and complex relationship with that land. It expresses their unity with the natural and spiritual environment. It embodies their traditional knowledge of spirits, places, land uses and ecology. Material remains of the association may be prominent, but will often be minimal or absent....

1) The long associated Aboriginal group or groups have participated in the identification of the place and its significance, concur in the selection of the place, and support designation.

2) Spiritual, cultural, economic, social and environmental aspects of the group's association with the identified place,

including continuity and traditions, illustrate its historical significance.

3) The interrelated cultural and natural attributes of the identified place make it a significant cultural landscape.

4) The cultural and natural attributes that embody the significance of the place are identified through traditional knowledge of the associated Aboriginal group(s).

5) The cultural and natural attributes that embody the significance of the place may be additionally comprehended by results of academic scholarship.

On the matter of self-definition by Aboriginal groups, the Board felt that appropriate consultations would alleviate any concerns about overlapping interests in a given area by different Aboriginal groups. It was agreed that the Board must be satisfied that there is agreement by all interested parties, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, before considering a cultural landscape for its historic significance.

3.19 Shipwrecks of National Historic Significance in Canada

In December 2000, the Board recommended:

For designation purposes, shipwreck shall mean an artifact representing a ship, boat, vessel or craft, whatever its type, which is deemed to have sunk, been driven aground, run aground or wrecked, and has been abandoned, thus putting an end to its career.

The shipwreck will be submerged and possibly embedded in an ocean, lake or waterway floor, be lying or buried in a tidal flat, beach or any other type of shore, including a modified ancient shore.

The physical condition of the shipwreck may vary. The shipwreck may be in one piece or in the form of remains spread out over a large area. In the latter case, a shipwreck may be nominated as an archaeological site or as archaeological remains, depending on the approach necessary to document it.

Included in the definition of shipwreck or shipwreck site will be the vestiges associated with the structure, cargo, equipment, human remains and personal effects of occupants, fragmented remains associated with these items and any natural accretions following the shipwreck. By extension, a shipwreck designated an archaeological site will include the preceding elements and even any natural accretions following the shipwreck, which may help to reconstitute the context of the wreck's evolution and to clarify its specific attributes.

Learn more about Evaluating Shipwrecks of National Historic Significance in Canada.