Why can’t I list that on the Alberta Register of Historic Places?

A bit about exemptions.

Listing a Municipal Historic Resource on the Alberta Register of Historic Places is normally the last step in protecting a locally significant historic place. There are several types of historic places that cannot be listed on the register. Understanding which ones are ineligible will help you understand what a historic place is and understand the purpose of  designation under the Historical Resources Act.

Only sites that are protected because of the heritage value they possess are eligible for listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. The register is a database containing information on places that have been protected because of their historical or archaeological significance. The register is not a list of sites that are of historical interest – that would be the Alberta Heritage Survey Program database.

Some types of resources cannot be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. Properties that cannot be listed include:

  • a property outside municipal jurisdiction;
  • a property that cannot be designated as a historic resource pursuant to the Historical Resources Act;
  • small movable objects;
  • human remains;
  • modern reconstructions, no matter how accurate, of a historic place; or
  • a building, structure or object situated in a historic park or village (like Heritage Park in Calgary).

Cronquist House, protected by the City of Red Deer, is a Municipal Historic Resource.

What are some examples of these types of property? Sites owned by the Crown cannot be designated as municipal historic resources. So, post offices owned by Canada Post or a provincial court house cannot be listed. Certain types of property (such as cemeteries) are regulated under other provincial laws (such as the Cemeteries Act). Conflicts between the Historical Resources Act and other provincial statutes can occasionally annul the protective nature of designation. When this is the case, those sites cannot be listed because they are not, in practice, protected.

A historic place that clearly does not have heritage value cannot be listed on the Alberta Register of Historic Places. A contemporary reconstruction of a historic place, no matter how well executed, is by nature not a historic place. Reconstructions are built from the perspective of the present and use modern tools and materials. It’s unlikely that a reproduction will accurately reproduce a historic place in minute detail. Historic parks or villages are even worse in this respect. A historic park does not reproduce a historic streetscape in its original location. They are artificial groupings of buildings that have been created for purposes of interpretation.

These are only the most obvious exemptions. There are other more subjective exemptions, like birthplaces, moved resources and things less than 50 years old. I will discuss those exemptions in an upcoming blog post. If you’d like to know more about exceptions to listing on the Alberta Register of Historic Places, you can download the Evaluating Historic Places manual from the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website.

Written by: Michael Thome, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

2 comments

  1. Thanks for posting this reminder. I’m also looking forward to your info on buildings that have been moved as this is an issue that we deal with on a yearly basis.

    1. Excellent! Glad to hear that you found this blog post useful and that you are looking forward to the follow-up post.

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