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Guide to the Preparation of Commemorative Integrity Statements

2.4 Effective Communication of the Reasons for Designation as a National Historic Site

2.4.1 Introduction

Protection is only one part of commemorative integrity. As the National Historic Sites Policy states (p. 78), “Protection and presentation are fundamental to commemoration, since without protection there can be no historic site to be enjoyed, and without presentation there can be no understanding of why the site is important to our history and, hence, to all Canadians.”

This section of the CIS should identify the reasons for designation which must be communicated in order for the public to understand why the site is important. This section should also identify any additional essential information required to ensure the understanding of these reasons. It provides guidance, through objectives, on the effective communication of these messages.

2.4.1.1 Definition

The reasons for designation express, in the form of messages, why this place was designated a national historic site.

2.4.1.2 Describing Reasons for Designation

The reasons for designation are derived from the Statement of Commemorative Intent. In most situations there will be one message for each of the reasons contained in the Statement of Commemorative Intent.

For example, there are two points in the SOCI for Skoki Ski Lodge NHSC: Skoki Ski Lodge was designated a national historic site in 1992. The reasons for designation, as derived from the 1992 HSMBC minute, are:

  • it is constructed in the Rustic Design Tradition, and ;
  • it is associated with tourism development and outdoor recreation in the national parks.

Therefore, there are two reasons for designation for this site:

  • Skoki Ski Lodge is constructed in the Rustic Design Tradition
  • Skoki Ski Lodge is associated with tourism development and outdoor recreation in the national parks.
2.4.2 Context Messages
2.4.2.1 Definition

Context messages are those messages that are essential to understanding the reasons for designation of the site. For example, one cannot appreciate the national historic significance of Skoki Ski Lodge without understanding what is meant by the Rustic Design Tradition. This is an essential context message.

2.4.2.2 Describing Context Messages

Context messages should be included with each reason for designation where they are needed to understand these reasons.

While context messages are essential to understanding the reasons for designation, they are not reasons for national significance.

Context messages should always be written in full sentences and not as topic headings or phrases.

The following example illustrates the relationship between the reasons for designation and context messages:

The reason for designation for Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station NHSC is:

  • The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station played a role in the Canadian contribution to the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.

This reason for designation is further explained by the following context messages:

  • International Geophysical Year was an international project of concentrated, coordinated exploration of the earth and its cosmic environment.
  • Cosmic ray research was an important part of the International Geophysical Year.
  • Canadian scientists made an important contribution to that research.
  • The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was the most important Canadian station.
2.4.2.3 This is a National Historic Site

Those who come in contact with national historic sites need to understand the concept of national historic site designation in order to fully appreciate the site’s importance. Consequently, there is a standard context message relating to the designation.

The designation of Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station as a national historic site is explained by the following standard context message:

  • Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station is a national historic site, a place designated by the Government of Canada as a site of importance to all Canadians because of its national historic significance.
2.4.3 Objectives for Effective Communication

This section should describe the objectives for the effective communication of the reasons for the site’s designation.

In the second element of commemorative integrity, the audience to be reached is defined as the public. This includes on-site and virtual visitors, as well as stakeholders. The audience also includes the site stewards: owners, managers and staff.

Effective communication means that the overall heritage presentation program for a site, in terms of all methods used to reach the public, conveys the reasons for the site’s designation. It also implies that those who experience heritage presentation understand these reasons. It is not sufficient to merely present the reasons for designation to the public; efforts must be made to ensure the public understands them. The success of heritage presentation programming should be monitored to ensure its effectiveness.

2.4.3.1 Identifying Objectives for Effective Communication

The objectives for the effective communication of the reasons for designation will read as follows:

The reasons for designation as a national historic site are effectively communicated to the public when:

  • the overall heritage presentation experience conveys the reasons for designation as a national historic site.
  • visitors and the site stewards understand the reasons for designation as a national historic site.
  • management decisions are based on adequate and sound information and are made in accordance with the principles and practice of the CRM Policy.

Site-specific objectives relating to messaging may be needed. These can be added as required. The objectives should be prepared in accordance with section 2.3.3 - Objectives for Cultural Resources.

An example of a site specific messaging objective is:

  • visitors appreciate and understand differing contemporary views and later interpretations of the history and events associated with the site’s national historic significance (This should be used at a site like Batoche, where history and events are complex or disputed).

Site-specific objectives should be written as goals, not as management activities which may lead to the goal. Instead of writing “a heritage communication strategy is developed and implemented,” the objective should be that visitors understand the reasons for designation as a national historic site.