Reviews of existing designations
Over the course of the past 100 years, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) has recommended more than 2,200 designations of national historic significance. The Board recognizes the enormous shifts in historical understanding that have occurred over the past century and acknowledges that it needs to be attentive to these shifts. The HSMBC and Parks Canada are working to address questions raised about existing designations and plaque texts.
The Framework for History and Commemoration outlines the HSMBC’s approach for the careful review of existing national historic designations. A review is generally triggered for one of the following reasons - outdated language or terminology, absence of a significant layer of history, factual errors, controversial beliefs and behaviours, or significant new knowledge or scholarship. A review could result in revisions to the reasons for designation of national historic significance, as well as revisions to the plaque text.
Here are some examples of designations and plaques that have been reviewed.
- The Rideau Canal National Historic Site of Canada was originally designated as an engineering achievement. Following a public request, new knowledge provided the foundation for including the contributions of different groups of labourers who built the canal.
- Parks Canada worked with the local First Nation to modify the name and the reasons for national significance of the fur trade post Obadjiwan-Fort-Témiscamingue National Historic Site of Canada. The revised reasons include the role of Indigenous Peoples in the fur trade and their long history at this place before Europeans arrived.
- The designation of Georges Island National Historic Site of Canada was originally focused on its role as a naval base in the British Empire. The reasons for national historic significance of this island in Halifax Harbour have been expanded to recognise it as a centre for the detention and deportation of Acadians in 1755.
- The local Métis community requested an addition to the plaque text for Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux National Historic Person, to include her role in the establishment of the Métis Community of Fort Providence amongst her other accomplishments.
These examples show how a designation can evolve to reflect new knowledge and current public understanding of the historical person, place or event.
Request a review
To request a review of a designation, members of the public can contact Parks Canada’s Secretariat for the HSMBC at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please identify the HSMBC designation or plaque in which you are interested and provide a brief description of your concerns. While Parks Canada’s goal is to complete this work as quickly possible, these reviews are undertaken as time and resources permit.
Designations which are currently being processed for review are identified on the Directory of Federal Heritage Designations.