The ABC’s of Heritage Conservation (Part 1 of 3)


The words of our trade can confuse and bemuse – below is a brief glossary of key terms designed to clarify and inform. 

Statements of Significance are used to understand how historic places should be conserved after a designating authority (i.e., a municipality – City, Town, Village or Municipal District, or the Government of Alberta) designates a place as a Municipal Historic Resource or a Provincial Historic Resource. 

  • Historic place:  A structure, building, group of buildings, district, landscape, archaeological site or other place that has been formally recognized for its heritage value. 
  • Statement of Significance (SoS):  A statement that briefly describes the historic place, identifies the heritage value or values associated with the place and lists the corresponding character-defining elements that must be conserved. 
  • Heritage value:  The aesthetic, historic, scientific, cultural, social or spiritual importance or significance for past, present or future generations. The heritage value of an historic place is embodied in its character-defining elements. 
  • Character-defining elements:  The materials, forms, location, spatial configurations and cultural associations or meanings that contribute to the heritage value of an historic place, which must be retained in order to preserve its heritage value. 

Village Treasures, in the Village of Mannville, is an example of a historic place. In January 2010 the Village designated it a Municipal Historic Resource. To read the Statement of Significance click here.

To learn more about the above terms or to read about additional conservation terms, please review the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. The Glossary section of the Municipal Heritage Partnership Program website is also a great resource. 

Written by: Brenda Manweiler, Municipal Heritage Services Officer (with definitions from the Standards and Guidelines).

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