2. Commemorative Integrity of the Site

2.1 Parks Canada's Objectives

As a federal government agency responsible for preserving and promoting the country’s cultural and natural heritage, one of Parks Canada’s objectives is:

“To foster appreciation, enjoyment and understanding of Canada’s historic canals by maintaining navigation; by managing cultural and natural resources for the purposes of protection and presentation; and by encouraging appropriate uses.”5

Parks Canada must keep a close watch over the judicious use of historic canals so that their utilization does not adversely affect the protection of heritage resources. In collaboration with interested groups and citizens, Parks Canada must promote the understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of heritage values associated with the historic canals.

With this objective in mind, the Historic Canals Policy specifies the following guiding principles:

  • Maintain through navigation as an integral part of the heritage value of historic canals and safeguard their structures, mechanisms and operating procedures;

  • Manage historic canals systematically so as to provide for the protection, presentation and appropriate use of cultural and natural resources in addition to maintaining navigation;

  • Protect cultural resources that fall under the responsibility of Parks Canada, in accordance with the Cultural Resource Management Policy, by following its principles of value, public interest, understanding, respect and integrity6;

  • Promote use that is appropriate and compatible with visitors’ enjoyment and appreciation of the land and water resources in every season, while respecting the heritage value of the historic canals and ensuring public safety;

  • Co-operate with departments, groups, organizations and citizens interested in pursuing such objectives;

  • Encourage local governments and other organizations to integrate the protection of the heritage character of the cultural landscapes formed by the canals and adjacent lands into plans, zoning regulations and programs.

In order to follow through on its mandate, Parks Canada also adopted a series of strategic objectives to guide its activities over the next five to ten years. These strategic objectives include the following:

  • Assure the commemorative integrity of national historic sites;7

  • Inform Canadians and international visitors about Canadian heritage, explain commemorative integrity and help Canadians to better appreciate systems of historic sites, (including historic canals), national parks and marine conservation areas;

  • Provide visitors with appropriate services so that they can enjoy protected heritage areas, while ensuring that negative impacts are kept to a minimum.

Respecting the commemorative integrity of sites recognized for their national historic significance is one of Parks Canada’s fundamental objectives. The commemorative integrity statement serves as a planning and management tool for these sites. The statement specifies a site’s commemorative intent, describes the cultural resources found there, attributes value, and identifies messages linked to its national historic significance that must be communicated to the public. The commemorative integrity statement also sets objectives to be reached in terms of protecting cultural resources and communicating messages related to the site’s national historic significance. In short, the commemorative integrity statement constitutes a frame of reference that defines the desired state for the site. The gap between this goal and the site’s current state then provides a basis for defining specific management measures aimed at conservation and presentation.

5 CANADIAN HERITAGE, PARKS CANADA. Guiding Principles and Operational Policies, Department of Supplies and Services Canada, 1994, p. 83.

6 CANADIAN HERITAGE, PARKS CANADA. Guiding Principles and Operational Policies, Department of Supply and Services Canada, 1994, op. cit., p. 104.

7 Commemorative integrity is a term used to describe the health or wholeness of a national historic site. A state of commemorative integrity can be said to exist when the resources that symbolize or represent a site’s importance are not impaired or under threat; when the reasons for the site’s national historic significance are effectively communicated to the public; when the site’s heritage values are respected by all whose decisions and actions affect the site.

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