The National Historic Sites Alliance supports initiatives to improve the protection of historic sites across the country, whether designated or not.

Modern Era Historic Sites in Canada

An overlooked area of commemoration in Canada is the designation of nationally signifcant places reflecting the Modern Movement in Canada. There have been initatives by DOCOMOMO International working parties to identify significant modern era places for protection. Especially active is the DOCOMOMO-Quebec working party in performing research and activities related to protecting modern sites in Quebec.

Nationally, there are several designations, but not with a sense of representative value within a system of commemoration. In the late 1990s, Parks Canada took the initiative to identify Modern Era historic sites as underrepresented; the result was a national scan of potential sites for designation.

Overview, Framework for Analysis and Criteria for Evaluation, Historic Sites nad Monuments Board of Canada, Fall 1997.

The first was the Binning Residence in West Vancouver, which has experienced serious challenges of being protected since designated. A guide of the criteria was published by Parks Canada to encourage new nominations, but only few were received.

Parks Canada, Commemorting Canada’s Built Heritage of the Modern Era, 2001.

The National Historic Sites Alliance is intertested in supporting sites for potential designation that may be of national signifcance. Here is a slideshow of Canada’s rich legacy of the Modern Era that may be worthy of commemoration.

  • Arctic Research Labratory, Igloolik, NU

An Act of Federal Legislation: a National Historic Sites Act

Unlike most G20 countries, Canada does not have comprehensive federal legislation for legal protection of National Historic Sites.

There is no recourse for sites that are threatened and moral encouragement to protect is the only tool offered to protect National Historic Sites.

The act of commemoration is a moral act and not a legal one. Consequently, it has resulted in several unfortunate losses of National Historic Sites, with few implications for intentional demolition and little hope of retaining the memory of the site.

It has also meant that attempts to protect National Historic Sites is often politically motivated and not grounded in a legal framework. Indeed, the whole process is often dependent on political will rather than a non-political legal process.

The National Historic Sites Alliance hopes that this can change with the passing of an Act of Parliament that inshrines protection in legislation.