Principle

Most people think of archaeological investigation as being synonymous with digging. Although that is often the case, it is not invariably so.

  • Some investigations do not touch the soil, because they focus exclusively on a visual investigation of what is on or above the soil, or protruding from it.

  • Still other investigations are conducted with equipment which produces information without touching the soil (e.g., metal detectors).
Are Investigations That Dig into the Soil the Only Ones That Require a Permit?

The answer depends on the location.

  • In the three westernmost provinces (Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia), archaeological exploration requires a permit if it will disturb the soil.

  • Under the laws of the other provinces and territories, all archaeological exploration must be authorized, whether it disturbs the soil or not.

In addition, every provincial and territorial government has an established format for applications and the filing of reports for authorized archaeological research. These are obligatory. That authorization will depend, in part, on the archaeologist showing credentials which would be acceptable to that province or territory.

On federal lands, the Parks Canada Agency and the Department of National Defence have procedures similar to those of the provincial and territorial governments. For other federal departments, however, the decision will be up to the discretion of the relevant land manager of that department.