7. Specific Guidelines: Procedure

7.1 Original Fabric on the Ground Floors of Buildings
7.2 Deferred Matters
7.3 National Historic Sites Whose Commemorative Integrity Has Been Destroyed
7.4 Preparation of Submissions to the [Status of Designations] Committee
7.5 Determining Designated Place
7.6 Changing the Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance
7.7 Guidelines for Establishing Names for National Historic Sites
7.8 Guidelines for Establishing Names for National Historic Persons and National Historic Events
7.9 Guiding Principles on the Application of Oral History in Submission Reports to the HSMBC on Aboriginal Peoples’ History
7.10 Establishing the Order of Names of Aboriginal Persons and Groups in Designations and Plaque Inscriptions

7.1 Original Fabric on the Ground Floors of Buildings

In June 1988, the Board recommended that:
as a guideline for future deliberations, the Board stated that the survival of original street-level entries and of original fabric on the ground floors of buildings brought forward for consideration were factors of such importance that the lack of either on a structure would seriously affect that structure's potential for designation.

In November 1988, the Board reiterated its above recommendation, and:
emphasized that, in future, architectural papers should clearly identify contemporary fabric in buildings when it was felt that the nature and extent of the use of new materials might be a determining factor in determining the significance of the structure in question.

7.2 Deferred Matters

In the context of a discussion of Fort Whoop-Up, Alberta, in November 1989, the Board noted that:
often, matters are deferred in order that additional material may be brought together on the subject which will permit the Board to objectively assess its national significance and put forward a recommendation to the Minister, in that regard. As the practice of waiting for formal Ministerial approval of all Board recommendations often resulted in lengthy delays in the resubmission of deferred items to the Board, which seemed to it to be unnecessary, it recommended that the Minister consider deferred items to constitute non-recommendations of the Board, in order that such items might be followed up in advance of his/her approval of the minutes in which they appear.

7.3 National Historic Sites Whose Commemorative Integrity Has Been Destroyed

In December 2002, the Board received a discussion paper that explored various approaches to the treatment of national historic sites that have lost their commemorative integrity and recommended that:

On the advice of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, the Minister may transfer a National Historic Site of Canada (NHSC) from the official list of NHSC to a list of NHSC whose commemorative integrity has been destroyed. Such action will rarely be undertaken and then only when:

  1. the commemorative integrity of the site has been destroyed through loss or impairment of the resources directly related to the reasons for designation, or
  2. the reasons for designation of a national historic site can no longer be effectively communicated to the public.

7.4 Preparation of Submissions to the [Status of Designations] Committee

In December 2000, the Board approved the following guidelines:

  1. In considering a proposal to clarify the designated place of an existing national historic site, the current Board will use a strict constructionist approach to interpreting Board recommendations of record (i.e. recommendations from previously approved Minutes of Board meetings), insofar as they relate to designated place.
  2. In considering new proposals to expand the designated place of an existing national historic site, the Board will not be constrained by recommendations of record, but will treat each new proposal on its merits, and with the understanding that the owner(s) of property directly affected by the proposed expansion of the designated place would need to give their consent.
  3. In the interests of efficiency and of documenting decisions regarding designated place and commemorative intent, submissions should consist of a briefing note format, with the most essential information and analysis in a short paper, and additional material, chiefly Board Minutes, any preceding Agenda Paper or Submission Report, and maps or plans, in appendices.
  4. The Parks Canada multi-disciplinary team will assess the feasibility of organizing the issues which require the Committees attention according to province/territory, table these issues by province/territory, and arrange to have the Board member of the relevant province or territory attend the Committees meetings.
  5. In light of the time-sensitive nature of many of the requests that will be brought forward for clarification, Parks Canada will determine an approach to expediting the Committees recommendations for review and approval by the Minister.

7.5 Determining Designated Place

In the Fall of 1999, with amendments in June 2001, the Board approved the following guidelines:

1) The approved Board Minute is considered the definitive statement of the Board's intent;

2) If the approved Minute refers to a description in an Agenda Paper or Submission Report relating to the extent of the "designated place," then that description should be consulted;

3) A plaque inscription will not be used to determine the "designated place";

4) The reasons given for national significance do not determine the "designated place";

5) The "designated place" is the place that was considered by the Board at the time it made its recommendation, unless otherwise specified in the Minute; and,

6) When the boundaries of a national historic site were not defined at the time of designation, and the physical feature named in the recommendation of national historic significance was located on a single legally-defined property at the time of designation, the boundaries of the designated place are deemed to be the boundaries of the property at that time, subject to the Scope and Exceptions statement that accompanies this guideline.


  • Date and wording of the designation: the national historic site was designated before 1999; it was not assigned boundaries at the time of designation, but instead was designated by name.
  • Property boundaries at the time of designation: at the time of designation, the whole of the nationally significant feature (or features) was located on a single, legally-defined property or parcel of land, or on adjoining properties owned by the same person or persons.
  • Current property boundaries: since the time of designation, the property has not been subdivided or had its boundaries redrawn in a way that affects ownership of the feature named in the designation.


General exceptions: for reasons of size and complexity, several types of properties are excluded from the application of this guideline. These exceptions relate to sites where the designated feature forms all or part of any of the following:

  • An institutional complex, such as a university, hospital, ecclesiastical precinct, or airport;
  • Defence works, notably forts, and sites of military operations, such as battlefields;
  • A trading post, whether styled a "fort" or not;
  • A fairground;
  • A linear route or property (e.g. railway stations, roundhouses, dams, bridges, aqueducts, canals and trails);
  • A Canadian Forces Base;
  • A First Nations Reserve;
  • Lands administered by Parks Canada;
  • An extensive property, such as an estate or an industrial complex, which was subdivided before designation in a manner that left potential Level One resources (either above or below ground) outside the administered place;
  • Sites designated for their archaeological value, or as cultural landscapes of associative value.

Special exception: vessels which are considered to be "places", shipwrecks, and moveable cultural heritage objects are also excluded. In some cases (e.g. Alexander Graham Bell museum collection) the objects themselves are Level One cultural resources.

7.6 Changing the Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance

In December 2002, the Board approved the procedures as follows:

  • Approved Minutes will continue to be used to determine the existence of designations and to determine the category to which they belong. Changes to the Directory will therefore be based on scrutiny of approved Minutes. Plaque texts, departmental publications and administrative correspondence may be consulted for context and corroboration, but will not be used to overrule the Minutes.
  • When research confirms the existence of an administrative error in the Directory, an administrative process will be followed to correct it. That process will employ the interdisciplinary team which oversees reports to the Status of Designations Committee (SDC).
  • The SDC will be informed in a brief note of each correction to the Directory which arises from administrative error in the past and which results in a change in the number of designations in any category. This note will be the official confirmation of the change.
  • Changes arising from ambiguity or new knowledge will continue to receive the Board's attention through formal reports to the SDC.

7.7 Guidelines for Establishing Names for National Historic Sites

In December 2003, the Board approved the guidelines as follows:

Four principles will be taken into account when site names are chosen; these are (i) well-established usage, (ii) historic usage, (iii) communication of the reasons for designation, and (iv) brevity and clarity. Ideally, Parks Canada and site owners will submit names which conform to all these principles. Often, though, it will be necessary for one or more principles to prevail over the others. The four principles are stated and explained in the first four proposed guidelines. The last two proposed guidelines deal with the use of official geographical names, and with the official status of names of national historic sites.

  1. When a proposed or recommended national historic site already has an established name, that name should be used, unless there are good reasons to the contrary.


    1. This principle is particularly appropriate when a site has had the same name throughout most of its recorded history. Established names may be one or more of the following: the name on the owner's publications or Web site; a name carved onto a building on the site, or written on a permanent sign; a name well-established in local usage. When there are variants of an established name, the full legal name will not necessarily be the best choice, especially if this is long, or generally not known in its locality; the choice shall be made in accordance with these guidelines as a whole.
    2. Bar U Ranch NHSC (Longview, Alberta), Fort Wellington NHSC (Prescott, Ontario) and Kicking Horse Pass NHSC (Yoho National Park of Canada, British Columbia) are examples of sites whose names were well established before they were designated as national historic sites.
    3. For sites not administered by Parks Canada, it is preferable for Parks Canada and the partner to use the same name. For example, the Emily Carr House NHSC in Victoria, British Columbia, is called Emily Carr House by its owner. However, if the name used by the site's owners or stakeholders communicates a different message than does the Board designation, the Board may recommend a different name. In the case of the Old Woodstock Town Hall NHSC (Woodstock, Ontario), the partner's name for the site is the Woodstock Museum. Since the Board designation clearly refers not to the museum, but to the architecture and former function of the town hall itself, Parks Canada uses a different name than does the partner. In cases when a partner uses a different name than the official one, Parks Canada will use the generic "National Historic Site of Canada" ("lieu historique national du Canada") only with the Board-approved specific, and will encourage the partner to follow the same practice.
    4. A commercial name will not be used, even if it is the name used by the owner, unless this name reflects the reason for designation.
      1. Maplelawn and Gardens NHSC (Ottawa, Ontario) is currently operated as a business called the Keg Manor. This name reflects its current use rather than its historic significance. In this case, the historic name of the house, Maplelawn, is used by the Board and Parks Canada.
      2. Commercial names can be used, however, when they are directly related to the national significance of the site. For example, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery NHSC (Richmond, British Columbia) or the Empress Hotel NHSC (Victoria, British Columbia) incorporate commercial names.
  2. When a site's current or established name is not appropriate, for one reason or another, a historic name may be the best choice.

    1. A historic name may be preferable in cases where a change in use or ownership has established a new name for a building or site. The Former Vancouver Law Courts NHSC, for example, currently houses the Vancouver Art Gallery, which is how the building is now known. The HSMBC name reflects the building's historic significance rather than its current function.
    2. The advantage of a historic name is that it will continue to be appropriate over time even if the owner or use of the site changes.
    3. When a site has had several names over time, and a choice must be made among these names, the name most closely associated with the site's national historic significance is generally preferable.
  3. When possible, names should communicate the reasons for the designation of national historic significance.

    1. Marconi Wireless Station NHSC (Port Morien, Nova Scotia), Riel House NHSC (Winnipeg, Manitoba) and St. John's WWII Coastal Defenses NHSC (St. John's, Newfoundland) are examples of names that clearly communicate the commemorative intent of the designation.
    2. A commemorative name may be appropriate for sites that are not associated with an established place name. In the past, for example, a number of descriptive, thematic names have been used, such as First Homestead in Western Canada NHSC (Portage La Prairie, Manitoba) or First Oil Wells in Canada NHSC (Oil Springs, Ontario)
    3. For certain types of designations, however, it is difficult to convey explicitly the commemorative intent in the site name:
      • when the designation arises through a thematic study, particularly an architectural study.
      • A site designated as "one of the finest examples of Carpenters' Gothic on the West Coast of Canada," for example, is not named Carpenters' Gothic NHSC, but rather Church of Our Lord NHSC (Victoria, British Colombia).
      • when there are multiple reasons for national significance, requiring an arbitrary choice.
      • Rocky Mountain House NHSC was recognized in 1926 for "its connection with early trade, discovery and exploration towards the westward." This was supplemented as follows in 1968: "and to interpret three major themes: the fur trade, David Thompson, and the role of the Peigan (Blackfoot) Indians."
      • when the factors that underpin national significance are too complex or abstract to express in a few words.

        St. Mary's Basilica NHSC (Halifax, Nova Scotia) was recognized "because of its central role in the religious history of Nova Scotia and more particularly because of its association with individuals and events that played a central role in the emancipation of Roman Catholics in the Province and in Canada."
  4. An ideal name is brief, clear and pleasing.

    1. All official names must include the generic "National Historic Site of Canada" ("lieu historique national du Canada"). In addition, official site names will normally appear as plaque titles. For the specific part, then, brevity is of particular importance.
    2. It will normally not be necessary to specify locality, religious denominations, or similar identifiers in a site's official name. In exceptional cases, such words may be required to avoid confusion at a local or national level. For example, in the case of St. John the Baptist Anglican Cathedral NHSC (St. John's, Newfoundland) and St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Basilica NHSC (St. John's, Newfoundland), religious denominations are specified to distinguish between two sites with the same name, in the same locality.

      Even if it is not part of the official name, this type of identifier may still be included in the descriptive note in the Directory of Designations.
    3. Dual or alternate names will be avoided in the future. The Directory of Designations, for example, currently contains entries such as Malahat Building / Old Victoria Custom House NHSC (Victoria, British Columbia), consisting of two names of apparently equal status. Rarely, separate aspects of a site's history may be jointly reflected in a double-barrelled name joined by a long dash, for example, Port-la-Joye – Fort Amherst NHSC (Rocky Point, Prince Edward Island). In addition, it will sometimes be appropriate to use the conjunction "and" to link two places that are physically separate but jointly designated, for example, Arvia'juaq and Qikiqtaarjuk NHSC (Arviat, Nunavut).
    4. It is preferable not to use the word "site" in the specific part of the name, given that "National Historic Site of Canada" will always be part of the official name.
    5. "National Historic Site of Canada" is the only approved generic, and terms such as "National Historic District" or "National Rural Historic District" will not be used, either as a generic or within the specific.
  5. When the name of a designation incorporates a geographic name approved by the Geographical Names Board of Canada, that approved form will normally be used.

    1. The Geographical Names Board of Canada (GNBC) is the national body which coordinates all matters affecting geographical nomenclature in Canada. Geographical name decisions approved by the appropriate federal, provincial or territorial authority become official decisions of the GNBC (Order-in-Council P.C. 2000-83).
    2. The GNBC-approved form of a geographic name should be used when it is part of the name of a designation. For example, the Smiths Falls Bascule Bridge NHSC incorporates the name of a settled place in Ontario, which has been approved by the GNBC as Smiths Falls (rather than Smyth's Falls or Smith's Falls, even though these forms were used in early official documents).
    3. When a different, or earlier, form of a name than the one approved by the GNBC is used, it must be justified on historic grounds, or be part of an established name.
  6. All official forms of names of designated national historic sites will be explicitly part of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada's advice to the Minister.

    1. Names of designations will be among the details of the commemoration, which will be recommended by the Board to the Minister, and, when approved, will be the official names of these sites. Changes to official names will similarly require a Ministerially approved recommendation of the Board.
    2. All names of designations will have an official form in each of the official languages of Canada. These versions are not considered to be multiple names, but two forms of a single name, and they will be derived using established toponymic and translation rules. The Board may, at its discretion, recommend adoption of further forms of the name in another language that is directly related to the reasons for the commemoration.
    3. The present guidelines provide direction concerning the choice of names for future national historic sites, and name changes to existing designations, if required. These names will be considered official names.

      Names, which have been explicitly addressed by the Board in the past, are also considered to be official. For example, in 1995 the Board recommended that the name Atherley Narrows Fish Weirs National Historic Site be changed to Mnjikaning Fish Weirs National Historic Site (Atherley, Ontario).


  1. Names will be researched and documented at the time of preparation of submission reports. All submission reports will contain a documented statement of the proposed name(s) for designation. This should include the current name as well as previous names by which the site has been known and, when appropriate, should reflect consultation with site owners or stakeholders.
  2. Submission reports will provide the proposed name(s) only in the language of the paper. All required language forms of the name will be included in the Board minutes. The appropriate toponymic and translation authorities will be consulted in the derivation of the translated forms.
  3. Name changes must be approved by the HSMBC.

7.8 Guidelines for Establishing Names for National Historic Sites and National Historic Events

In June 2005, the Board approved the following guidelines:

Designation names for national historic persons will be established based on the following considerations:

(1) usage in the person's lifetime;
(2) usage in the scholarly literature;
(3) popular and / or community usage.

When there are multiple choices, the name most closely associated with the reasons for designation will be chosen.

When there is a possibility of confusion, designation names for national historic events will use words that suggest an event (action), or the nature of the designation, rather than a place.

The Board added that:

as far as titles are concerned, it prefers to use the name by which the person was known during the activities related to his or her national historic significance. For example, Baron Sydenham, the governor general who implemented the Union of the Canadas in 1840, and was designated as a National Historic Person in 1926, should be identified in the "List of Designations of National Historic Significance" as Baron Sydenham (Charles Edward Poulett Thomson).

7.9 Guiding Principles on the Application of Oral History in Submission Reports to the HSMBC on Aboriginal Peoples’ History

In June 2006, the Board approved the following guiding principles:

  • To consider oral tradition where it is useful, relevant, and reliable.
  • To consider the use of oral tradition in submission reports on a case-by-case basis.

In evaluating submission reports that contain oral tradition … the Board will consider the following:

  • In what ways does the information contribute or fail to contribute to historical understanding?
  • How well and in what manner does the oral knowledge meet internal and external tests of corroboration, consistency, and contradiction?
  • What is the relationship of the oral information to existing documentation and historiography?

With the Board’s approval of the Guiding Principles on the Application of Oral History in Submission Reports to the HSMBC on Aboriginal Peoples’ History, a section, the Oral History Context Statement, was added to submission reports containing oral history. The context statement provides more in depth information on the following:

  • details of the consultation process;
  • the names of interviewees, including contextual information about their role as storytellers and/or their relationship to the submission;
  • a brief rationale for the use of oral information and an explanation of the methodology used in its collection, interpretation and validation;
  • a brief description of the cultural context in which the oral history occurs, including its origins, its variations, its function and role in that society, and its ownership, if any.

An Oral History Context Statement was included in the following submission reports: Catherine Beaulieu Bouvier Lamoureux, Chief Kw’eh, Charles Francis, Mary Francis Webb, T’äw Tà’är, Mi’kmaq and the Opening of Newfoundland’s Interior (1851-1890), Lucille Clifton (‘Wii Nii Puun).

7.10 Establishing the Order of Names of Aboriginal Persons and Groups in Designations and Plaque Inscriptions

In December 2010, the Board approved the following guidelines:

The order in which the names of an Aboriginal person are presented will be established according to the following guidelines:

  • When the name of the designation includes two or more names, including one Aboriginal name and one European name, the Aboriginal name will be shown first;
  • If the designated person is known under another name in scholarly works or common usage, and if this name is required for public understanding, it will be shown in parentheses after the [Indigenous] name;
  • When the name of an [Indigenous] person appears in an inscription, the [Indigenous] name will be shown first, and if the person is known by another name in scholarly works and common usage and this name is required for public understanding, it will be shown in parentheses after the [Indigenous] name.

The order of presentation of the names of [Indigenous] groups will be determined on the basis of the following guidelines:

  • The name that the [Indigenous] group uses will be shown first;
  • When a term for designating an [Indigenous] group found in scholarly works and common usage is different from the name that the group uses, and is necessary for public understanding, this term will be shown in parentheses after the name used by the group.

In cases where these is some reason for the order of presentation of the name of the [Indigenous] person or group differing from that suggested by the guidelines, the reason will be in indicated in the submission report.

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