Any aspect of Canada's human history may be considered for designation of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration. To be considered for designation, a place, person or event must have had a nationally significant impact on the history of Canada, or must illustrate a nationally important aspect of Canadian human history. Do you know of a person, place or event that is important to the history of Canada? If so, please consider submitting a nomination.

Every year, the secretariat of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) receives several new nominations, most of which are submitted by the public. Designations of national historic significance are usually commemorated with a bronze plaque installed in a location that has a historical association with the designated subject and is accessible to the public.

This page summarizes the nomination process from the beginning when someone submits their request to the end when the Minister has made a recommendation and the requester is informed.


Nomination

Prepare and submit a nomination

To nominate a subject for national historic designation, you do not need to carry out extensive historical research or analyses. Just provide the necessary information to guide the research and Parks Canada's historians or archaeologists will conduct the work. 

To verify if a place, person or event has already been designated, you can check the Directory of Federal Historic Designations, where all designated places, people and events of national historic significance are listed. Information on other types of designation may be found in the Historic Designations in Canada section.

  • Step 1 — Review the criteria and guidelines and see if the person, place or event that you'd like to nominate qualifies.
  • Step 2 — Gather information for the nomination. The nomination can be any format you wish. It should include all of the required information. Submitting a complete nomination will speed the evaluation period.
  • Step 3 — Submit your nomination to clmhc-hsmbc@pc.gc.ca or by mail. There is no deadline to submit a nomination and any additional information available after the application has been sent can still be forwarded to the HSMBC secretariat. Unless specifically requested, documents submitted are not returned.

It may take at least two years or more from the time a nomination is received to when the Minister makes a decision following the Board’s recommendation. The HSMBC’s meeting agenda is planned about a year in advance and the Board meets twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Please see the Review of nominations section for more details.

Basic criteria to nominate a subject for national historical designation

Following are the basic criteria which must be met for a subject to be designated for national historic significance. It is recommended that you also consult the more detailed criteria and guidelines that have been developed.

National historic person

Basic criteria

Persons that qualify for national historic significance will meet the following criteria:

  • a person (or persons) may be designated of national historic significance if that person(s) individually or as the representative(s) of a group made a lasting contribution to the history of Canada
  • persons deceased for at least twenty-five years may be considered for designation of national historic significance, with the exception of prime ministers, who are eligible for commemoration immediately upon death
National historic site designations

Basic criteria

Places that qualify for national historic significance will meet the following criteria:

  • a place may be designated of national historic significance by virtue of a direct association with a nationally significant aspect of the history of Canada. An archaeological site, structure, building, group of buildings, district, or cultural landscape of potential national historic significance will:
    • illustrate an exceptional creative achievement in concept and design, technology and/or planning, or a significant stage in the development of Canada; or
    • illustrate or symbolize in whole or in part a cultural tradition, a way of life, or ideas important in the development of Canada; or
    • be most explicitly and meaningfully associated or identified with persons who are deemed of national historic importance; or
    • be most explicitly and meaningfully associated or identified with events that are deemed of national historic importance.
  • buildings, ensembles of buildings, and sites that are 40 years of age or older may be considered for designation of national historic significance.
  • a place must be in a condition that respects the integrity of its design, materials, workmanship, function and/or setting to be considered for designation of national historic significance, insofar as any of these elements are essential to understand its significance.
  • the boundaries of a place must be clearly defined for it to be considered for national historic site designation.
  • large-scale movable heritage properties that would not normally be considered suitable for museum display may be considered for designation of national historic significance.
National historic event

Basic criteria

Events that qualify for national historic significance will meet the following criteria:

  • an event may be designated of national historic significance if it represents a defining action, episode, movement, or experience in Canadian history.
  • events that occurred at least 40 years ago may be considered for designation of national historic significance. Historic events that continue into the more recent past will be evaluated on the basis of what occurred at least 40 years ago.

Required information for all nominations

Nominations must include the requirements listed below and may be submitted either by mail or email.

Identification of the applicant
  • Full name
  • Organization/company affiliation (if applicable)
  • Address
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • How did you hear about this program?
Identification of the subject
  • Identify whether you are submitting a place, person or event for nomination.
  • Indicate important dates, such as the dates a building or structure was designed, constructed and altered, the date of birth and death of a person, or the parameters of an event.
  • For places, please provide the complete street address of the property. If this is not possible, please provide geographical coordinates.
Documentation and suggestions for more in-depth research
  • Suggestions for research are useful and may include historical sources, photograph collections, documents, bibliographic references, books, and contact persons (please provide names, addresses and telephone numbers).
  • Mention any other existing evaluations, studies or heritage designations.
Basic criteria
  • Ensure the subject to be nominated meets the basic criteria for a national historic person, site, or event (see above).

Special requirements for sites

Consent of the property owner(s)

  • The written consent of the property / landowner(s) is required if the applicant is not the property or landowner; otherwise, the HSMBC will not consider the application for designation.
  • If a place belongs to a large number of owners, as in the case of districts, consent may take the form of a municipal resolution supporting the application.
  • Before the HSMBC begins evaluating a potential national historic site designation related to the history of Indigenous Peoples and located on land subject to pending or ongoing land claims, all such claims must first be settled and land ownership clearly established.

Additional suggested information for sites

Boundaries of the site proposed for designation
  • Describe clearly and precisely the boundaries of the historic property being proposed for designation. A sketch map must accompany the nomination clearly delineating the descriptive boundaries of the historic property. Where possible, provide a legal description and survey map on which the historic property is located. The boundaries of the historic property submitted for designation need not be the same as the legal boundaries of the property on which it is located.
Components of the site
  • Identify all major built and/or natural components of the property. This is particularly important when submitting a district or cultural landscape for consideration.
Site condition
  • Describe the condition of the site, identifying any existing or potential threats to the integrity of the site.
Additional documentation
  • Include in your application recent photographs of the buildings (four sides) as well as interior and exterior details. Please also include plans and elevations as well as an aerial view, if available.

Review of nominations

When a nomination is received, Parks Canada’s HSMBC secretariat first checks that it contains all the required information. If the nomination is complete, it is sent on to Parks Canada’s historians or archaeologists, where preliminary research is conducted to ensure that it meets the criteria and guidelines and that there is sufficient documentation for a report to be prepared for the Board.

 
Review process

At the completion of this initial review, the secretariat contacts the applicant to convey the decision as to whether or not the nomination will be submitted to the Board. If so, the date of the meeting at which the nomination will be considered will be confirmed.

An assigned historian then prepares a report on the subject and visits the location of the site if the subject is a place. The report is then tabled at the next meeting of the Board.

At their biannual meeting, the Board reviews the report and issues a recommendation, or asks for clarifications on certain aspects of the nomination. When clarifications are required, the subject will be resubmitted at a subsequent meeting.

Because of the advisory role of the Board, their meetings are held in camera (not open to the public). The Board's recommendations are recorded in the minutes and sent on to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change for their approval.

The Board's recommendations remain confidential until the Minister approves them. Although the secretariat can share the contents of meetings' agendas with the public, they cannot reveal the recommendations, research documents or excerpts of meeting minutes. All such documents become public and can be distributed once the Minister has approved them and announced the designation.

Appeal process

If an unfavourable recommendation is made by the Board, the subject may be resubmitted if new, significant information is discovered or if applicable criteria or guidelines change.

Reconsideration of a subject can also be requested 15 or more years later.


After designation approval

After the Minister approves the designation of a new subject of national historic significance, the proponent will receive a notification of the new designation and the new subject will be announced publicly.

Designations of national historic significance are usually commemorated with a bronze plaque installed in a location that is closely related to the designated subject and accessible to the public. Parks Canada works with the proponent to organize a plaque unveiling ceremony.


Nominations not recommended for designation

Once the Minister has made a decision on designation, the secretariat will notify the proponent that their nomination was unsuccessful.


Criteria and guidelines for evaluating the national historic significance of a subject

The booklet Criteria and Guidelines for evaluating subjects of potential national historic significance (PDF, 0.5 MB) lists the detailed HSMBC criteria and guidelines to date.