These guidelines present Parks Canada's approach to archaeological resource management as a component of cultural resource management using the principles and practices of the Cultural Resource Management Policy (CRM Policy). This document updates and replaces the 1993 Guidelines for the Management of Archaeological Resources in the Canadian Parks Service, reflecting the organizational change and functional direction of archaeology within Parks Canada.

According to Parks Canada’s Cultural Resource Management Policy1 archaeological resources are cultural resources when they are determined to have historic value and are part of our national heritage.  They are a finite cultural resource2 often representing the only evidence of past cultures and human activity. Archaeological resources provide insight into peoples’ relationship with the environment and can provide information concerning human influences on the evolution of ecosystems and the changing ecosystem itself. On certain sites, multicultural and socioeconomic factors are a part of the complex elements that influence the analysis and understanding of past human groups and societies.

Archaeological resources cannot be duplicated or replaced if lost, damaged or destroyed, and are valued as points of physical contact with our past and as sources of knowledge about our history .

Examples of archaeological sites are stone tool manufacturing locations, campsites, shell middens, long houses, rock art sites, fishing stations, places of spiritual and religious experience, fur trade and military sites, transportation and industrial sites, battlefields, shipwrecks, villages, homesteads, dumps, trails and landscapes. Much of Canada’s human history is expressed in these remains, often in cases where little or no other evidence or information exists. Archaeological sites and collections are a key component in many National Historic Sites of Canada, are abundant in National Parks of Canada, National Park Reserves of Canada, National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada, National Marine Conservation Area Reserves and could also be found on other lands and lands underwater administered by the federal government.

Parks Canada is committed to the principles embodied in the CRM Policy and recognizes international conventions that encourage the consideration of historic values in managing archaeological resources. Parks Canada manages the rich archaeological heritage entrusted to it within the context of the CRM Policy. 

The Parks Canada Agency Act (1998) lists archaeology within its heritage protection programs. It further states that “The Agency is responsible for implementing policies of the Government of Canada that relate to National Parks, National Historic Sites, National Marine Conservation Areas and other heritage areas and heritage protection programs”. Parks Canada’s science strategy also includes archaeology in the family of cultural sciences. Parks Canada’s Archaeological Services Branch provides leadership and strategic direction to the Parks Canada archaeology function. The four Service Centres provide professional and technical expertise, implement strategic direction and are accountable for the management of national collections of archaeological material.  The Field Units are accountable for appropriate decision-making with respect to archaeological resources and  for ensuring that CRM practices are followed in the management of archaeological resources within their area of responsibility.

The subject of federal archaeology, that relates to the conduct of archaeology on federal lands and lands underwater, falls within the jurisdiction of the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency (s.4(1)(B), Parks Canada Agency Act). Subject to certain exceptions, the powers, duties and functions of the Minister as they relate to this subject-matter are exercised and performed by the Parks Canada Agency.

Parks Canada Agency is the federal government expert on the archaeological work that takes place on federal lands and federal lands underwater. The Agency’s archaeological experts provide advice, tools and information to other federal land managers on archaeology and environmental assessment to help implement the Government of Canada`s Archaeological Heritage Policy Framework (1990).

In the Guidelines, Appendices 1, 2 and 3 refer to definitions, references and value indicators, whereas Appendices 4 and 5 refer to Parks Canada and provincial–territorial contacts. Appendix 6 refers to other organizations and principles.

1 Appendix 2 contains the references cited in the text.
2 Refer to Appendix 1 for definitions.


Date modified :