Conclusion

The laws pertaining to archaeology in Canada reflect certain basic realities.

  • Items left by previous generations, in the soil or underwater, are often the best clues that Canadians will ever have to help us understand how countless generations lived.

  • In certain crucial respects, the soil of Canada is itself an archive — often the only archive — of our collective past.

  • This is a factor which the land planning process must take into account.

  • Furthermore, when the soil gives up its secrets accidentally (revealing artifacts or, more dramatically, human remains), this represents a remarkable and precious opportunity to learn about the past. It is the policy of Canada, and of all the provinces and territories, to take maximum advantage of such opportunities.

This is what the laws in Canada do. Despite occasional divergences in wording, they disclose a common legislative intent: that archaeology is important to Canada, and that Canadians should not abuse their archaeological heritage any more than they would tear pages out of their family history. Although the statutes governing archaeology continue to evolve, they are the essential framework for future efforts to protect and understand this important part of Canada's heritage.