All Parks Canada consultations and formal engagement on management plans are suspended until further notice

The health and safety of Canadians, visitors, and Parks Canada team members is of the utmost importance to the Agency. Parks Canada is following the advice of public health experts and implementing measures to support Canada’s efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and reduce risks to employees and visitors.

As a result, Parks Canada has also suspended all public consultations and formal engagement with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples on management plans until further notice.

Management plans are developed through consultation and input from various people and organizations, including Indigenous peoples, local and regional residents, visitors, and the public.

The Agency is currently focusing its efforts on critical operations. There is, therefore, limited capacity to undertake full and meaningful management planning consultations at this time. Parks Canada also recognizes that the focus of the Canadian public, Indigenous partners and our stakeholders is on public health and safety and the economy.

Parks Canada is committed to resuming all management planning activities, including public consultations and formal engagement with stakeholders and Indigenous peoples, once operations return to normal and capacity allows.

An invitation to take part

Parks Canada is reviewing its management objectives and strategies for Canso Islands National Historic Site and we want to hear from you. We will be holding public consultations until August 30, 2019. We encourage you to take part in this process by sharing your ideas and thoughts.

The purpose of these consultations is to give the public, Indigenous communities, municipality, partners, and community stakeholders an opportunity to get involved in the decision-making process of managing a national historic site.

The management statement will guide the governance of this historic site over the next 10 years. It will provide direction for the protection of cultural and natural resources as well as for visitor experience, outreach, and education.

Parks Canada’s Mandate

On behalf of the people of Canada, we protect and present nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and foster public understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations.


Canso Islands National Historic Site is commemorated because Canso Islands constituted an important fishing base for the French in the 16th and 17th centuries and for the British in the first half of the 18th century. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended Canso as a site of national historic significance in 1925. In 1962, the Board recommended recognition of the prominent archaeological site in the Canso area, the fort at Grassy Island, as being of national historic significance. In 2001, the Board recommended that the site be known as Canso Islands National Historic Site and include the islands that constituted Canso in its historic sense, and that Grassy Island National Historic Site be renamed Grassy Island Fort National Historic Site.

The Mi’kmaq people had a historical presence on these islands for fishing and transportation. Nine pre-contact Indigenous artifacts are part of the archaeological collection for the site. The Mi’kmaq also played an important role, along with the French, in overtaking the fortifications during King George’s War in 1744. Although Parks Canada has compiled some information related to the importance of the sites to the Mi’kmaq, our current understanding is limited and further understanding of the significance of these sites needs to be explored as part of relationship building moving forward.

Canso Islands National Historic Sites are located adjacent to the community of Canso, within the Municipality of the County of Guysborough. Tourism is an important emerging sector regionally and the site plays an important role in the tourism offer for Canso.

Past Management Strategies

In the past, extensive management plans were required for all national historic sites. Four years ago, Parks Canada changed the planning process to allow for more flexibility for sites with less complex management requirements. Plans for sites such as Canso Islands National Historic Site are now directed through management statements. 

Management statements are strategic, shorter in length, and results-oriented. They include key strategies and goals, outlining a basic level of management that is not anticipated to change. They do not require a vision or strategic direction.

They guide management decisions and actions at heritage places, and serve as key accountability documents to Indigenous peoples and Canadians. These statements are one-page documents that often require ministerial approval and tabling in Parliament, as is the case with the Canso Islands National Historic management statement.

Management goals are developed through consultation and input from various people and organizations, including Indigenous peoples, local residents, visitors, stakeholders and partners as well as the dedicated team at Parks Canada.

Proposed Management Approach

Parks Canada’s aim is to continue to grow relationships and pursue partnerships that offer opportunities for discovery of the sites and build an appreciation and understanding for their story.  

Parks Canada is committed to the commemorative integrity of Canso Islands National Historic Site through respect and protection for the designated place, the in situ cultural resources, historic objects and the landscapes.  

Proposed Management Goals

Building Relationships with Indigenous Peoples: Parks Canada respects Indigenous rights, including those identified within peace and friendship treaties, when building mutually beneficial relationships with Indigenous communities, a priority for the Parks Canada Agency. In managing Canso Islands National Historic Site, Parks Canada currently engages the Parks Canada Unama’ki Mi’kmaq Advisory Committee to incorporate traditional knowledge, values and the cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples. Areas of interest moving forward include cross-promotional visitor experience activities, involvement in cultural resource management activities, and potential employment or contracting opportunities.

Building Relationships with Local/Regional Partners: By working together with key stakeholders, including the Canso Historical Society, Canso Area Development Association and the Municipality of the County of Guysborough, Parks Canada maximizes opportunities to reveal the story of the sites and provides enhanced services.

Resource Conservation: Parks Canada protects cultural resources at its heritage places in accordance with its Cultural Resource Management Policy and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. This includes basic monitoring of the state of cultural resources, and documentation of interventions at the site. At Canso Islands National Historic Site, the focus is on ensuring that the cultural resources are not impaired or threatened, that investments are made where they are most impactful for the benefit of Canadians, and that messages about Canso Islands National Historic Sites historical significance are conveyed.

Public Understanding and Appreciation: Parks Canada provides information about the significance of Canso Islands National Historic Site on its website, through social media and on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. Parks Canada also delivers related outreach activities, as well as promotional information available at regional visitor information centres. 

Site Maintenance: Parks Canada maintains the property it administers so as to respect the site’s heritage values, present a positive image to the public, and reflect the Parks Canada brand.
Strategic environmental assessment

In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals (2010), a strategic environmental assessment is conducted on all management statements tabled in Parliament. The strategic environmental assessment for Canso Islands National Historic Site assessed the potential effects on natural and cultural resources and visitor experience. The strategic environmental assessment concluded that the proposed management statement for Canso Islands National Historic Site would have positive effects on cultural resources and visitor experience. Potential environmental effects on vegetation species at risk, migratory birds and water quality were identified but the effects can be mitigated through project-level impact assessments when necessary. The statement supports the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy goal of Connecting Canadians with Nature. There are no important negative environmental effects anticipated from management statement implementation. 

What do you think?

The present document summarizes and presents the site, its managerial goals and strategies. Now it’s your turn to take part in the discussion! Here is your chance to add to the conversation and help us develop Canso Islands National Historic Site’s management statement. Your knowledge of the area, your experience with the site, and the future you envision for it are important to us.

How to take part

We would like to hear your views, opinions and suggestions on the future of this treasured place. Please send your comments to us at by August 30, 2019 or by mail to: 

Public Consultations – Canso Islands National Historic Site
Parks Canada Agency
259 Park Service Road
Louisbourg, NS B1C 2L2
Please do not hesitate to contact us at 902-295-2069 if you have any questions or would like further information on the public consultation.

Thank you for your cooperation!