The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada
Role of the Board
Since 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has been mandated to provide advice to the Government of Canada, through the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, on the designation of places, persons and events that have marked and shaped Canada. Every year, new subjects are added to the list of designations. The nominated subject must have a historical significance from a national perspective and not only from a local or regional standpoint.
Following an evaluation process and recommendation by the Board, the minister has the authority to designate a site, event or person of national historic significance.
In addition to advising on designations of national historic significance under the National Program of Historical Commemoration, the Board provides advice on the following laws and programs:
History of the Board
In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Government of Canada noted the interest of Canadians in protecting natural and cultural heritage places, which led to the creation of a network of national parks and a system of national historic sites throughout the country.
In 1919 James B. Harkin, Commissioner of the Dominion's national park system, persuaded the federal government to establish the Advisory Board for Historic Site Preservation. During the Board’s first meeting, its six members selected the official name, The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, and elected Brigadier General E. A. Cruikshank as its first chairman.
It quickly set about determining the most significant historic sites in the country. At the time, the usual commemoration took the form of a bronze plaque on a stone cairn.
In 1953 the Historic Sites and Monuments Act established the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (The Board) in law. A later amendment granted the Board the power to recommend national designation for buildings in consideration of their age or architectural design.
In 1989 the Board's mandate was extended to cover the designation of heritage railway stations. Ten years later, it was given the responsibility to commemorate the grave sites of Canadian prime ministers. In 2009, the Board was appointed the advisory committee to the Minister of the Environment for the protection of heritage lighthouses.
The Board continues to handle a significant number of applications to designate places, persons and events linked to various aspects of Canada's political, economic and social history. The Board is currently prioritizing the history of Indigenous peoples, environmental history, diversity and Canada and the world, whose designations are generally underrepresented.
The Board is composed of a representative from each province and territory (named by the Governor in Council for appointments of up to five years with the possibility of additional terms), as well as the Librarian and Archivist of Canada, an officer of the Canadian Museum of History, and the Vice-President of Parks Canada’s Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate, who also acts as the Board’s Secretary.
Candidates for board membership must meet the following criteria:
- reside in the province or territory they represent;
- have knowledge of the history of the province or territory that they represent, as well as the historical trends that shaped the development of Canada as a whole and/or knowledge of Indigenous cultural practices and traditions; and
- be available to attend at least two meetings a year of several days in duration, in addition to preparation time, as well as to officiate at plaque unveiling ceremonies a few times a year.
For more information on the appointment process of the members of the Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada, please visit the Governor in Council Appointments website.
Given the volume of work involved to carry out its mandate, the Board created a number of committees with specific responsibilities. For example, the Lighthouse Committee evaluates the reports on lighthouses and makes recommendations on their designation under the Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, the Inscriptions Committee reviews and approves texts on commemorative plaques and the Status of Designations Committee clarifies the objective of existing designations.
Dr. Joe Anderson
Dr. Joseph (Joe) Anderson is Professor of History and Associate Dean of Arts-Research, Scholarship and Community Engagement at Mount Royal University in Calgary. A dual citizen of Canada and the United States, Dr. Anderson has specialized in public and agricultural history throughout his career. He spent a decade with Living History Farms in Iowa, where he served as Director of History and Interpretation. Dr. Anderson has also served in leadership roles on the executive board of the Agricultural History Society, an international organization dedicated to promoting the interest, study, and research of the history of agriculture. His research interests include environmental and technology history, food and culture, and rural life. Dr. Anderson is the author of several publications on these topics, including his most recent book Capitalist Pigs: Pigs, Pork, and Power in America, which details the history of pigs and the pork industry in the United States.
- First appointment: June 18, 2019 to June 17, 2024
Mr. Timothy Christian
Mr. Timothy Christian is Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Alberta. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in History from the University of Alberta as well as a Master of Law degree from the University of Cambridge. As Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta, he created the Indigenous Law Students Program to encourage the recruitment of Indigenous law students. He has published extensively in the fields of constitutional, administrative and labour law, and has decades of experience in mediation, facilitation and negotiation at the provincial and federal levels, including as Chief Federal Negotiator, negotiating settlements between First Nations, provincial governments and the Government of Canada. In 2011, he retired from the practice of law and his work as a federal negotiator in 2011 and now devotes his time to historical research and writing.
- First appointment: May 19, 2018 to May 18, 2023
Ms. Diane Payment
Diane Payment is an ethnohistorian and author specializing in the history of women, Métis history and the Francophone history of Western and Northern Canada. She has an M.A. in history from the University of Ottawa and a degree in French Literature and Education from the University of Manitoba. She spent thirty years working as an historian and cultural resources specialist for the Parks Canada Agency. She is actively involved in her community, as member of the Union Nationale Métisse, past president of La Société historique de Saint-Boniface and as a member of the Manitoba Heritage Council for over a decade. Today, she continues to conduct research and is a consultant to a number of associations and media on a variety of heritage matters.
- First appointment: May 28, 2019, to May 27, 2024
Mr. Bernard Thériault
Mr. Bernard Thériault is an historian, researcher, writer and commentor. He has been retired from the New Brunswick public service since 2010, where he was the Director General for the Premier’s Cabinet. He also served as Director for Aboriginal Fisheries, Gulf Region, for Fisheries and Oceans Canada. From 1987 until 2000, Mr. Thériault served as the member of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick for the Caraquet riding. During this time, he served as the Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Aboriginal Affairs, as well as acting Minister of Education. He began his career as an historian, head conservator and Director of programs at the Village Historique Acadien, in Caraquet. He grew up in Caraquet and continues to live there today.
- First appointment: June 13, 2018, to June 12, 2023
Ms. Sarah Jerome
Ms. Sarah Jerome, an elder with the Gwich’in Nation, is actively involved in promoting the history, culture, traditions, and languages of northern people. Ms. Jerome was one of the last Gwich’in to be raised “on-the-land” and grew up at her family’s bush camp on the Peel River. She attended residential school for twelve years but returned to the land with her family during the summer months, where she continued to practice her traditional skills and language. Today, as an elder, she teaches Indigenous knowledge to youth in the Inuvik region, leading a program which explores educational pursuits, genealogy, language and culture. Ms. Jerome has extensive experience as an educator, with positions as a teacher, principal and superintendent, spanning over two decades. She was the Language Commissioner for the Northwest Territories from 2009-2013, and also a board member of the Porcupine Caribou Management Committee and Gwich’in Renewable Resource Council. She holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Saskatchewan, and an Honorary Doctorate of Law from the University of Alberta.
- First appointment: January 8, 2021, to January 7, 2026
Dr. Richard M. Alway
Chairman and Ontario Representative
An Officer of the Order of Canada, and member of the Order of Ontario,Dr. Alway holds two graduate degrees in Modern History from the University of Toronto. He is presently the Praeses of the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, and was previously the President and Vice-chancellor of the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto.Dr. Alway has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Canada and Chair of its National Programmes Committee, Chairman of the National Gallery of Canada, as Acting Director of the National Gallery of Canada, Chairman of the National Museum of Natural Sciences, and a member of the Board of the National Postal Museum. Former Chairman and CEO of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, he is currently Chairman of the C.D. Howe Memorial Foundation (Montreal) and a member of the Quebecor Ontario Advisory Board.
- First appointment: September 10, 1996, to September 9, 2001
- Second appointment: September 11, 2001, to September 10, 2006
- Third appointment: March 5, 2007, to March 4, 2012
- Fourth appointment: May 03, 2012, to May 02, 2017
- Fifth appointment: May 11, 2017, to January 10, 2018
- Sixth appointment: January 11, 2018 to January 10, 2023
Dr. Yolande Cohen
Dr. Yolande Cohen has been a Full Professor at the History Department of the Université du Québec à Montréal for almost 40 years. She is an internationally-known historian specializing in social history. Dr. Cohen has authored ten books and published over 80 articles in academic journals. Dr. Cohen is a member and past president of the Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada. She is a recipient of the Order of Québec and is a Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France. She has been involved in many community organizations, civic society groups, and municipal organizations in Montréal, where she also ran for mayor in the 1990s. Dr. Cohen obtained a Doctorat de 3e cycle at l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and the Université Paris VIII.
- First appointment: November 22, 2017, to November 21, 2022
Dr. Bill Waiser
Dr. William (Bill) Waiser is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a full-time writer, consultant, and public speaker. He spent more than three decades with the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Prior to this, he was an historian with the Parks Canada Agency, specializing in the history of the Yukon. Dr. Waiser has extensive experience participating and leading heritage boards and committees at the local, provincial, and national levels, including Canada’s History Society (publisher of Canada’s History, formerly The Beaver magazine). He has published extensively on Canadian history and is best known for Saskatchewan: A New History, which was personally presented to Queen Elizabeth II, as well as A World We Have Lost: Saskatchewan before 1905, winner of the 2016 Governor General’s literary award for non-fiction. He is a frequent contributor to radio, television, and print media. Dr. Waiser was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2017.
- First appointment: January 30, 2019 to January 29, 2024
Ms. Rae Mombourquette
Ms. Rae Mombourquette is a Tlingit Acadian citizen of Kwanlin Dün First Nation in Whitehorse, Yukon. She is a granddaughter of the Big Salmon Northern Tutchone people and great granddaughter of the Marsh Lake Tagish Kwan. Ms. Mombourquette is an Indigenous researcher specializing in Yukon First Nation heritage co-management and Yukon First Nations Self-Government Final Agreement Chapter 13 Heritage implementation. Ms. Mombourquette has over 12 years of experience working in the Yukon Heritage field, and is passionate about promoting and preserving all aspects of Canadian history. She has a B.A. in Canadian Studies from Thompson Rivers University and a certificate in Indigenous Women in Community Leadership from the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University.
- First appointment: June 1, 2021 to May 31, 2026
Ex-officio Board members
Ms. Leslie Weir
Ms. Leslie Weir assumed the position of Librarian and Archivist of Canada on August 30, 2019. Prior to joining Library and Archives Canada, Ms. Weir was the University Librarian at the University of Ottawa from 2003 to 2018. She also held positions at the National Library of Canada and the Statistics Canada Library. Ms. Weir also served as President of Canadiana.org, where she oversaw the introduction of the Heritage Project, in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada, to digitize and make openly accessible some 60 million heritage archival images. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Canadian History from Concordia University in 1976, and a Masters in Library Science from McGill University in 1979.
Dr. Dean Oliver
Dr. Oliver joined the Canadian Museum of History’s staff in 2013, after nearly fourteen years at the Canadian War Museum, the last ten as Director of Research and Exhibitions. His most recent book (with J. L. Granatstein), The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History, won the annual Charles P. Stacey Award for the best book published on Canadian military history.
Dean Oliver holds a PhD in History from York University and has taught History, Political Science and International Security. A long-time contributor to the Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs and founding editor of the Studies in Canadian Military History monograph series, he is a well-known writer, lecturer and media commentator.
Parks Canada Board member
Parks Canada provides professional and administrative services to support the Board's work, including the conduct of historical and archaeological research needed for evaluating applications and the handling of all administrative issues. It also carries out the ministerial decisions following the Board’s recommendations by organizing plaque unveiling ceremonies, installing and maintaining the commemorative plaques.
Ms. Christine Loth-Bown
With over 24 years of experience in policy development and program implementation, Ms. Loth-Bown joined Parks Canada in 2020. She began her career working in Indigenous affairs and played a key role in the development and implementation of Gathering Strength: Canada’s Aboriginal Action Plan. She held senior roles at the Canadian Tourism Commission and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the latter where she worked on policies and programs related to marine and freshwater ecosystems, as well as the development and implementation of legislation and regulations under the Fisheries Act. Ms. Loth-Bown was previously the Vice President of External Relations and Strategic Policy at the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada. She played a key leadership role in the development of the Impact Assessment Act.
Ms. Loth-Bown holds a Master of Arts in Canadian Studies from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Canadian Studies and Political Science from Glendon College, York University.
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