Municipal Historic Resource designation refresher series: Statements of Integrity

Editor’s note: Welcome to the seventh post in a series of blog posts developed with municipalities in mind who either have or are considering undertaking Municipal Historic Resource designation. In this post, we will talk about the importance of developing Statements of Integrity, and how they help to both increase understanding and manage change to historic resources over time. You can read the previous post here.

For more information, please review the “Creating a Future” manuals available here or contact Rebecca Goodenough, Manager, Historic Places Research and Designation at or 780-431-2309.

Written by: Carlo Laforge, Heritage Conservation Adviser and Tom Ward, Manager, Heritage Conservation Advisory Services, Historic Resources Management Branch

Statements of Integrity

The process for evaluating if an historic place merits designation under the Historical Resources Act (HRA) starts with determining if and why it is significant. Then, determining whether it retains sufficient physical integrity to convey that significance. Earlier blog posts described how to develop a Statement of Significance (SOS). The next step works through whether enough of the physical features that relate to the heritage values exist, and are in acceptable condition to convey heritage values. Not all places merit designation as historic resources, especially if integrity is in question.

Below is an outline of what goes into determining integrity and how to summarize findings in a Statement of Integrity (SOI). It is important to remember that the development of an SOS and SOI are complementary processes. The information and facts discovered by each related investigation help to compliment, influence and improve each document to enable the best decision possible in terms of proceeding with a designation.

Understanding what is of value

A review of the heritage values expressed in the SOS provides the person analyzing the integrity of a place with a reminder of why it is potentially of historic significance and what details may be important. The heritage values and the period of significance are critical to keep in mind when observing and evaluating the historic place.

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Sand Paint

Sand painting is a faux finish technique that was not uncommon for exteriors of masonry buildings in the early part of the twentieth century.  By dusting sand onto paint while still tacky, painted wood or metal details were made to resemble stone.  If you guessed you were looking at magnified grains of sand in the teaser photograph above, you were right.  The photograph, taken through a binocular microscope, is actually of a sand paint sample taken from the Senator Lougheed Residence in Calgary.

Senator Lougheed Residence, Calgary
Senator Lougheed Residence, Calgary.

Sand painted wood details at the Senator Lougheed Residence, Calgary
Sand painted wood details at the Senator Lougheed Residence, Calgary.

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Application of the Standards and Guidelines to replace the cedar shingle roof on Old St. Stephen’s College

Old St. Stephen’s College, designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1983, and office of the Historic Places Stewardship Section (the authors of RETROactive), is getting a new roof. The work is compliant with the principles and recommendations outlined in the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. Below is a brief description of the conservation work that will be completed throughout April and May 2012.

The roof over the west wing and its multiple hip-roofed dormers are cited in the Statement of Significance as character-defining. The design for the cedar roof replacement may seem straight-forward at first, but when planning this work it was important to consider not only the look, but how the roof would perform. The introduction of new underlay products and flashings were examined in order to better help keep the water out and extend the service life of the roof.

For any historic place, the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada must be consulted for all proposed interventions.  In this case, a cedar shingle finish for roof surfaces, ridge caps and dormer side walls was verified as appropriate with reference to general Standards 1 to 9 and Standards 10 to 12 for rehabilitation treatments (see pages 22 and 23 in your Standards and Guidelines document).  Standard 8, in particular, confirms the replacement “in kind of any extensively deteriorated or missing parts of character-defining elements, where there are surviving prototypes.”

In addition to the replacement of the shingles, the opportunity to introduce new weatherproofing materials was presented.  Particular areas at risk with this roof were identified, which included the six dormers penetrating each side of the peaked roof, along with multiple valley and ridge flashings.  Also complicating the design is the presence of deep gutters with internal drains just behind the brick and cast-stone parapets.  A new continuous ice dam membrane underlay was proposed that would be installed from the parapet through the gutter, to the top of the dormers, lapping the membrane up the dormer sidewalls, and to the underside of window sills.  This has been likened to installing a weatherproof girdle under the shingles, covering most of the roof surface, to help protect the vulnerable complicated intersections from leaks.

The proposed introduction of new underlay material to this roof was confirmed in the Guidelines for Roofs (page 142), where it is recommended to “improve the detailing of roof elements, following recognized conservation methods, to correct faulty details.”  Such improvements, however, should be physically and visually compatible with the authentic roof detailing.

So, all the boxes are checked with regard to the west wing’s roof replacement and the protection of its heritage values.  The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada provides a defendable verification that planned work for historic places retains recognized heritage values.

Written by: Tom Ward, Manager of Heritage Conservation Advisory Services

Standards and Guidelines: Second Edition Now Available!

 Just in time for Heritage Week, the second edition of the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada has been uploaded to the Historic Places website. Check out the new edition!

What are Standards and Guidelines? 

The Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada is a pan-Canadian guide for understanding and planning interventions to historic places. The document is based on decades of evolved heritage conservation principles and practices and inspired by international heritage charters.  

Staff members from the Historic Resources Management Branch of Alberta Culture and Community Spirit have actively participated in the development of the first and second editions, in cooperation with heritage professionals from all provincial, territorial and federal agencies. It is truly a pan-Canadian guide. 

How are Standards and Guidelines used? 

In Alberta, the Standards and Guidelines can be used by anyone needing guidance on how to approach interventions to a historic place. In 2003, the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada became the official standard for evaluating interventions to Provincial Historic Resources designated under the Historical Resources Act and for heritage conservation projects eligible for cost-shared funding through the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation.  

What’s New for the Second Edition? 

The second edition has not changed the basic guiding principles found in the original document. The Standards and Guidelines have been expanded to now fully explain each of the fourteen standards and to elaborate on guidelines for archaeological resources and cultural landscapes. 

For a printed copy of the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada, contact:

Written by: Tom Ward

Manager, Heritage Conservation Advisory Services Program