The Permit Process

Every provincial and territorial government foresees a process to obtain permission to do archaeological research.

There are distinctions as alluded to earlier.

  • In three provinces (British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan),49 this permission is required only if the applicant intends to dig or "disturb" the site; if the soil is not going to be disturbed, no such permission is strictly necessary as long as no archaeological object is moved or altered.

  • In all other provinces and territories, any archaeological searching requires permission from provincial authorities, whether the soil is disturbed or not.50

  • This authorization is invariably called a "permit" in every jurisdiction — except in both Ontario and New Brunswick where it may be either a "permit" or a "licence."51

The task of obtaining this documentation is usually up to the archaeologist, who should be able to produce it on demand, and certainly before work begins.

At the federal level:

  • The Parks Canada Agency has its own archaeological service that handles archaeological matters under the Agency's jurisdiction, namely in national parks and the national historic sites administered by the Agency. It also has an advisory role, on request, to other federal land managers.

  • The Department of National Defence has its own procedures, which generally dovetail with provincial and territorial procedures.

  • Otherwise, archaeological research on federally owned or regulated land is handled by the land managers of the relevant federal department, in an essentially discretionary way.