Manitoba Historical Society
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Directory of National Historic Designations in Manitoba

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Persons | Events | Sites


National historic sites are places of profound importance to Canada. They bear witness to our nation’s defining moments and illustrate its human creativity and cultural traditions. Each national historic site tells its own unique story, part of the greater story of Canada, contributing to a sense of time, identity, and place to our understanding of Canada as a whole.

National historic sites, located in all provinces and territories, can be found in almost any setting – from urban to rural locales, to wilderness environments. They may be sacred places, battlefields, archaeological sites, buildings or streetscapes. They can range in size from a single structure to linear canals spanning great distances. Many national historic sites are still used today for work and worship, commerce and industry, habitation and leisure.

In addition to sites, Canada also commemorates persons and events for their national historic significance. So far 1,800 places, persons and events have been commemorated by the Government of Canada. And the list keeps growing as Canada’s history unfolds.

The National Historic Sites Plan

Together, all of these commemorations make up what is known as the system of National Historic Sites of Canada. In each generation the system has evolved with the nation’s changing view of itself. Today there is a greater interest in social history reflecting the achievements and experiences of everyday Canadians.

Parks Canada monitors the system through a system plan and is now making special efforts to encourage participation and increase the representation of Aboriginal, women and enthnocultural communities’ history.

The National Historic Sites System Plan covers the entire range of Canadian human history under five broad themes:

  • Peopling the Land
  • Governing Canada
  • Developing Economies
  • Building Social and Community Life
  • Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life

Parks Canada supports the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC), the body that advises the Minister of the Environment on national historic significance. Since its creation in 1919, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada has been a significant partner within the heritage community in Canada. Members of the HSMBC are appointed by the Governor in Council. There are two representatives for each of the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, and one representative for each of the other eight provinces and the three territories. As well, the National Archivist, an officer of the Museum of Civilization, and an officer of the Department of the Environment are members.

In 2008, the Appointed Members were:

Chairman, Dr. Richard M. Alway
Alberta, Dr. Roderick Charles MacLeod
British Columbia, Dr. Harold D. Kalman
Manitoba, Dr. Robert O’Kell
New Brunswick, Ms Margot Sackett
Newfoundland and Labrador, Mr. Eric Jerrett
Northwest Territories, Ms Ingrid Diana Kritsch
Nova Scotia, Dr. David A. Sutherland
Nunavut, Mr. George Qulaut
Ontario, Dr. John Jennings & Dr. Richard M. Alway
Prince Edward Island, Mr. Leonard Cusack
Quebec, Dr. Jean-Claude Marsan & Dr. Tania Martin
Saskatchewan, Mr. Alan Duddridge
Yukon, Ms Loree Stewart

Because of the great deal of work involved in carrying out its mandate, the Board has struck a number of committees with specific areas of responsibility. Overall control is exercised by: the Executive Committee made up of the Chairperson of the Board and the Chairpersons of the other committees.

The Criteria Committee determines criteria and guidelines for evaluating the national historic importance of places, people and events.

The Cultural Communities Committee brings to the Board recommendations for commemoration of the contributions of Canada’s diverse cultural groups and Aboriginal Peoples.

The Inscriptions Committee is responsible for ensuring the appropriateness and accuracy of all plaque texts.

The Thematic Studies and System Plan Committee is responsible for reviewing the National Historic Sites System Plan and for bringing before the Board themes in Canadian history which it considers nationally significant.

The Built Environment Committee is charged with assessing the national significance of buildings, including historic districts and streetscapes, and it may recommend the selection, preservation, and interpretation of in situ resources.

The Status of Designations Committee is responsible for clarifying names, the features and boundaries of national historic sites and the intent of existing designations.

The Director General, National Historic Sites Directorate, Parks Canada Agency, acts as the Secretary of the Board. Under the Secretary’s guidance, Parks Canada conducts historical and archaeological research in support of the Board, provides a secretariat which handles administrative matters, and implements the Minister’s decisions upon the advice of the Board.

Designation Process / Overview

The HSMBC’s agenda is in large part driven by public concerns as it responds to requests that places, people or events be declared of national historic significance. Consideration of designations of national historic significance are made on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the Board’s evaluation criteria and guidelines within the context of the wide spectrum of Canada’s human history.

Each year, the Board receives well over 200 requests, of which 50 to 70 will generate research papers from the Historical Services Branch or the Archaeological Services Branch of the National Historic Sites Directorate of the Parks Canada Agency. The reports assist the Board in its deliberations. Alternatively, the applicant may elect to prepare the research paper with the assistance of the Agency.

The Board convenes biannually, usually in June and November. Depending on prior commitments and the complexity of the subject under review, up to two years may elapse between the time of application and the Board’s consideration of the subject.

Types of Designations

Any aspect of Canada’s human history may be considered for Ministerial designation of national historic significance. To be considered for designation, a place, a person or an event will have had a nationally significant impact on Canadian history, or will illustrate a nationally important aspect of Canadian human history.

Subjects that qualify for national historic significance will meet one or more of the following criteria:

1. A place may be designated of national historic significance by virtue of a direct association with a nationally significant aspect of Canadian history. An archaeological site, structure, building, group of buildings, district, or cultural landscape of potential national historic significance will:

a) illustrate an exceptional creative achievement in concept and design, technology and/or planning, or a significant stage in the development of Canada; or

b) illustrate or symbolize in whole or in part a cultural tradition, a way of life, or ideas important in the development of Canada; or

c) be most explicitly and meaningfully associated or identified with persons who are deemed of national historic importance; or

d) be most explicitly and meaningfully associated or identified with events that are deemed of national historic importance.

2. A person (or persons) may be designated of national historic significance if that person individually or as the representative of a group made an outstanding and lasting contribution to Canadian history.

3. An event may be designated of national historic significance if it represents a defining action, episode, movement, or experience in Canadian history.

General Guidelines

Considerations for designation of national historic significance are made on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with the above criteria and in the context of the wide spectrum of Canada’s human history.

An exceptional achievement or outstanding contribution clearly stands above other achievements or contributions in terms of importance and/or excellence of quality. A representative example may warrant a designation of national historic significance because it eminently typifies a nationally important aspect of Canadian history.

An explicit and meaningful association is direct and understandable, and is relevant to the reasons associated with the national significance of the associated person or event.

Uniqueness or rarity are not, in themselves, evidence of national historic significance, but may be considered in connection with the above criteria for national historic significance.

Firsts, per se, are not considered for national historic significance.

In general, only one commemoration will be made for each place, person, or event of national historic significance.


Buildings, ensembles of buildings, and sites completed by 1975 may be considered for designation of national historic significance, provided five years have passed since the death of those responsible for their design.

A place must be in a condition that respects the integrity of its design, materials, workmanship, function and/or setting to be considered for designation of national historic significance, insofar as any of these elements are essential to understand its significance.

The boundaries of a place must be clearly defined for it to be considered for designation as a national historic site.

Large-scale movable heritage properties that would not normally be considered suitable for museum display may be considered for designation of national historic significance.


Persons deceased for at least twenty-five years may be considered for designation of national historic significance, with the exception of Prime Ministers, who are eligible for commemoration immediately upon death.

EVENTS (2002)

Events that occurred at least 40 years ago may be considered for designation of national historic significance. Historic events that continue into the more recent past will be evaluated on the basis of what occurred at least 40 years ago.

When the Board has considered a submission, it makes a recommendation for commemoration to the Minister. The usual form of commemoration is the erection of a bronze plaque.

Parks Canada owns and operates 150 national historic sites. The majority of Canada’s national historic sites are not owned by the federal government but by other levels of government, organizations and individuals. These sites, known as The Family of National Historic Sites are provided with support from Parks Canada. This includes:

Basic Support

  • Consultation and expert research (submission report to HSMBC) prepared prior to designation
  • A plaque and consultation on its text
  • Listing in the Directory of Designations of National Historic Significance and access to related information.
  • Listing in the Canadian Register of Historic Places and access to related information.
  • Information on Parks Canada’s best practices such as Standards and Guidelines; Guiding Principles and Operating Policies; Guide to the Preparation of Commemorative Integrity Statements; Guide to Management Planning; Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada; Information on the Requirements of the National Historic Sites of Canada Cost-Sharing Program
  • Eligibility for financial incentives as available

Enhanced Support

  • Parks Canada may provide owners with additional access to professional and technical support when resources are available.


Manitoba’s Heritage Resources Act provides for two levels of designation: municipal and provincial. Typically, churches, schools, railway stations, fur trade posts, pioneer trails and existing homes of locally prominent people built before 1930 are considered community landmarks most appropriately protected by municipal governments. Objects, sites and existing structures which clearly demonstrate a potential to illustrate an important theme of Manitoba’s development may be possible candidates for legal protection as provincial heritage sites under The Heritage Resources Act.

Judging which sites merit designation is the responsibility of the Manitoba Heritage Council, an appointed body which advises and makes recommendation to the Minister of Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism on provincial commemoration and legal protection of sites and structures under the Heritage Resources Act.

A provincially designated heritage site cannot be damaged, destroyed, removed, repaired or developed unless a heritage permit is obtained from the Department of Culture, Heritage and Tourism. Similarly, alterations to municipal heritage sites require a heritage permit obtained from the designating municipal government. This ensures that renovations or improvements made to a site or structure are sympathetic to its architectural and/or historic nature.

More than 300 provincial and municipal sites have been designated under the legislation.

The Historic Resources Branch of Manitoba Culture, Heritage and Tourism supports communities and individuals in their efforts to identify, protect and celebrate their heritage.


The City of Winnipeg, under The City of Winnipeg Act, protects buildings through the Historical Buildings By-law 1474/77. The City of Winnipeg retains and compiles two separate yet complementary listings of heritage buildings: the Buildings Conservation List and the Historical Buildings Inventory.

The Buildings Conservation List includes structures that have been declared historic by the City of Winnipeg based on recommendations by the Historical Buildings Committee. Listed structures are classified by a grade system with Grade I buildings representing outstanding examples of architectural and historical merit, Grade II buildings representing the majority of the city’s building stock, and Grade III buildings represent moderately significant heritage examples. Since the By-law came into effect in 1977, just over 200 buildings have been placed on the Buildings Conservation List.

In order to assess the overall scope of heritage conservation in Winnipeg, a Historical Buildings Inventory has been compiled including commercial, educational, financial, public, religious, residential, and miscellaneous structures. The Inventory is a listing of buildings which have not been formally researched and evaluated, but which may have architectural or historical significance. Buildings on the Inventory can be viewed therefore, as possible candidates for inclusion on the Buildings Conservation List. As the City received permits for these buildings, the Historical Buildings Committee will evaluate and perhaps recommend designation of the structure based on their research.

The Brandon Municipal Heritage Advisory Committee was established in August, 1987 by Municipal Heritage By-law No. 5521, for the purpose of considering applications and making recommendations to City Council respecting the designation of heritage sites as municipal heritage sites, and the demolition, alteration or renovation of those sites. In the years since this committee was established, the heritage conservation movement at the local level has evolved and heritage objectives have changed. In May of 2001, The Brandon Heritage Conservation By-law No. 6644 was enacted to replace the existing by-law. The new by-law expands the mandate of the Brandon Municipal Heritage Committee to include: the promotion of public awareness and appreciation of heritage resources; the development of civic policies and programs that will conserve and enhance Brandon’s heritage sites; the development of incentive programs for heritage conservation; recognition of heritage sites and outstanding contributions to heritage conservation and tourism; and the provision of technical and professional advice to the local community.

Membership on the BMHC is comprised of two members of City Council, representatives from the various heritage stakeholder groups in the City, two members who are local building and/or landscape architects (currently in practice or retired), and citizen representatives of the City-at-large. Technical and administrative support to the Committee is also provided by Building Inspection of the Brandon and Area Planning District, the Fire Prevention Office, the General Manager of the Downtown Brandon Business Improvement District, a representative from the Community Economic Regional Services Office of Manitoba Intergovernmental Affairs and the City’s Heritage Resources Officer.

The current role of the Brandon Municipal Heritage Committee includes:

  • the maintenance of an inventory of structures that have potential architectural and/or historical significance;
  • the regulation of alternations and additions to designated structures through the heritage permit process;
  • the maintenance of a registry of municipally designated structures;
  • the assessment and evaluation of heritage structures and makes recommendations about designation to City Council; and
  • public education and outreach through the dissemination of information and ongoing communication with owners of heritage properties, contractors, realtors and the general public.

See also:

Historic Sites of Manitoba: Manitoba Plaques for Persons, Events and Sites of National Historic Significance

MHS Features

Page revised: 10 December 2011

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