Invitation to Participate

Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site has begun the process of reviewing its management plan. We invite you to participate by sharing your viewpoint and your suggestions as part of the public consultation period to be held from May 15 to June 30, 2019. The purpose of this consultation is to engage Canadians, partners, community stakeholders, and neighbours in the decision-making for the management direction of the national historic site.

This newsletter proposes elements to update the vision, as well as two key strategies, objectives, and targets for Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site. Join the Parks Canada team in developing a common vision and continuing to protect and promote the discovery of this unique national historic site.

Parks Canada staff
Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site

Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site

235 John St. North in Gravenhurst Ontario.

A little bit of history…

  • Built in 1880, it is the birthplace of Dr. Norman Bethune.
  • The site is an authentic Canadian living memorial to Bethune.
  • The site captures the symbolic significance of Dr. Bethune to international audiences in China and in Spain.
  • The historic house’s intact original features and adjacent visitor centre and grounds interpret the national historic significance of Dr. Norman Bethune.

In the present day…

  • Bethune Memorial House is open to the public from May until November.
  • A new visitor centre opened in 2012.
  • The site is a busy place where interactive, compelling, and provocative programs captivate a diverse range of audiences, delivered by passionate, knowledgeable, and inspiring Parks Canada staff.
  • New visitor experiences include a First World War Activity Area, guided tour options, and new exhibits.
  • Improvements to access include a new wheelchair lift and paved pathways.
  • Visitation increased 52% between 2013 and 2016.
  • National Indigenous Peoples Day was celebrated in 2018 with Moon River Métis.

Vision for 2035
In the future, Bethune Memorial House will…

  • Be an important international meeting place for networks of people to share stories, ideas and inspiration related to Bethune’s legacy.
  • Foster respectful relationships with local, international and Indigenous communities to present meaningful programming that resonates with all visitors.
  • Use the stories of Bethune’s achievements to inspire others to look beyond their differences and collaborate for a better world.
  • Move visitors, volunteers and partners to act as proud ambassadors of Bethune’s achievements and humanitarian ideals.
  • Tailor experiences, with the help of stakeholders and partners, to engage visitors in interactive, compelling, and provocative programs throughout the year.

What is a Management Plan?

A management plan is a forward-looking document that provides a vision for a national park or national historic site at its future best and the strategies for getting there. The new management plan for Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site will guide decisions and actions in protecting, presenting and operating the site.

Parks Canada 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.

Parks Canada Vision

Canada’s treasured natural and historic places will be a living legacy, connecting hearts and minds to a stronger, deeper understanding of the very essence of Canada.


The Key Strategies

The following two key strategies with corresponding objectives and targets explain how Parks Canada intends to achieve its vision for Bethune Memorial House over the next ten years.

Key strategy 1:

Facilitating a personal connection to the Bethune legacy for all visitors

This strategy aims at actively managing the site during peak times, and the diverse expectations of visitors. The site will continue to offer relevant, outstanding and tailored experiences that respond to visitor needs. Visitor experiences will be flexible and adapt to crowd sizes and visitor types, ranging from small groups to larger audiences, and will encourage visitors to become ambassadors of the site.

What Does Success Look Like?

  • Visitor satisfaction remains at 90% or higher.
  • A volunteer offer is developed in which people are inspired to stay connected with and support the work of the site.
  • Richer, enhanced opportunities to experience the site will be offered outside of peak times.
  • Needs and expectations of visitors are reflected in programming and a wider range of visitor experiences are made available.
  • Responsive admission systems are in place to address the site’s fluctuating visitor patterns.
  • Efficient and adaptable facilities and processes are continuously evaluated for visitor flow, comfort, exits, routing, accessibility etc.
  • Cultural resources and landscapes are well protected, contribute to the site’s stories, and enhance visitor programming.
  • More historic objects and stakeholder gifts are identified and displayed in appropriate locations to tell the site’s stories.

Key strategy 2:

Partnering strategically to benefit visitors and Bethune Memorial House

With this strategy, the site aims to develop partnerships that:

  • Maintain and improve the quality of the visitor experience offer;
  • Build support beyond the boundaries of the site;
  • Capitalise on the credibility accrued by the Bethune legacy to connect Parks Canada with broader audiences, in particular, those of Chinese descent.

What Does Success Look Like?

  • New partnerships enhance visitor experiences, promote the site, and facilitate international opportunities.
  • A clearly defined partnering strategy enables the site to manage a range of requests.
  • Programs and outreach have been adapted for key audiences, such as schools, to increase visits outside of peak periods.
  • Marketing initiatives that address seasonal visitor patterns are in place.
  • Volunteer opportunities are available for people to further connect with Bethune’s legacy.
  • The site is regularly featured in social, new, and/or traditional media.
  • Relationships are established and ongoing dialogue with Indigenous partners is occurring regularly, to discover mutual objectives.
  • Indigenous relationships and interests are understood and work has begun in presenting shared messages, such as Bethune’s Métis heritage and other stories.

We Want to Hear From You!

You have an opportunity to contribute to the future by helping to develop the new management plan for Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site.

Share your views with us about the proposed management approach, vision and key strategies.

You can share your ideas:

  • By participating in person at the public open house on June 3rd, 2019 at the Bethune Memorial House Visitor Centre or
  • By emailing your comments to: or
  • By mail: Public Consultations – Bethune Memorial House NHS
    235 John Street North
    Gravenhurst, Ontario
    P1P 1G4

You have until June 30, 2019 to share your opinion, comments, or ideas. If you have any questions, would like more information or a full copy of the draft Management Plan, please contact us.

Visit the Parks Canada website at