Did you know?

  • Parks Canada cares for approximately 31 million historical and archaeological objects representing over 11,000 years of human history?
  • The collection consists of 50 years of research and is truly a national collection representing all aspects of Canada’s history from coast to coast to coast.
  • Parks Canada is responsible for protecting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage and showcasing significant examples of our heritage nationally. That is why Parks Canada primarily exhibits the objects under its care at national parks and historic sites in every province and territory

Together under one roof

The artifact collection is an integral part of interpretation, exhibits, and other programming used to share the stories of Parks Canada’s national historic sites, national parks and national marine conservation areas with visitors.

Parks Canada currently manages and operates six collection storage facilities located in five cities - Winnipeg, Cornwall, Ottawa, Quebec City and Dartmouth and is working on moving artifacts to a new collections facility that will be purpose-built for Parks Canada in Gatineau, Quebec.

Why a new building?

Excluding Dartmouth, the existing storage facilities do not meet environmental and security standards. As a result, approximately 60 percent of the 31 million artifacts under Parks Canada’s care are under threat due to inappropriate environmental storage conditions and lack of appropriate security.

Upon consolidation, the collection will be stored in the Gatineau facility specifically designed for collection storage and managed by a national team of collection specialists.

The Dartmouth Archaeology Laboratory in Nova Scotia is the only building that will store artifacts as it meets the required conservation and security standards.

Accessing artifacts

Sample of fragments included in artifact collection.

Parks Canada will continue to exhibit the objects under its care at Parks Canada places in every province and territory. Artifacts located in national parks and historic sites will remain in their present locations to share the stories of these fascinating places with visitors.

Parks Canada will also continue to work with cultural and educational institutions to ensure that the historical and archaeological objects in the collection remain accessible for research, educational, ceremonial and exhibit purposes. Coupled with Parks Canada's loans program, the same level of access to the collection will be maintained, if not enhanced.

Over 95 percent of the archeological collection consists of fragments including stone chips from the manufacture of stone tools, nails and ceramic fragments and window glass shards. Artifacts such as these are not, for the most part, suitable for display but are important and of high interest to researchers and archaeologists.

Building design and construction

Through a Request for Proposal (RFP), Parks Canada has engaged architects to design the new facility for Parks Canada’s national collection of artifacts in Gatineau, Quebec. The contract was awarded to a joint-architectural venture between Moriyama and Teshima Architects (Ottawa, Toronto) and NFOE Architects (Montreal).

The new facility will be designed and constructed to comply with the Canada Green Building Council, LEED-NC Gold standard, or better.

Parks Canada is working hard to protect Canada’s important artifacts. Based on preliminary estimates, construction should commence in 2019 and be completed by 2020. The collection will move once the facility is operational.

Safeguarding Indigenous objects and documents

Parks Canada recognizes that Indigenous and cultural groups have a vested interest in the objects and associated documentation in the collection.

Throughout this process, Parks Canada is committed to working with its partners and all interested parties, and remains open to discussion and proposals regarding access, care and handling of this important collection.

Stay up to date

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates on this project! Check out #OurVaults to see a small sample of the artifacts.