Recognizing the Significance of Heritage Resources

Code: AHVS489C
Apply this course towards: Cultural Resource Management

Course description

This course guides you through the process of recognizing significance of heritage resources, mainly historic places. It guides you through methods to identify values that are associated with historic places and synthesize them into an argument of significance in other words the reason to preserve them.

Historic places are understood as "A structure, building, group of buildings, district, landscape, archaeological site or other place in Canada that has been formally recognized for its heritage value" (Glossary, Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada). It begins by exploring the context of heritage to focus on those influences that frame the exercise of determining significance. You are then guided to apply methods to determine the significance of heritage resources.

Heritage is a cultural construct that emerged from a variety of collective interests and needs. Science, politics, social and economic concerns have all influenced the definition and conservation of heritage resources at various degrees. The legacy of these influences is a rich 'collection' of places administered by government authorities and private owners.

Recognizing the significance of heritage resources is also a means to articulate the importance of a place in the landscape and for the people associated with it. While Western views of heritage have dominated the field until later in the 20th century, various professional principles, charters, and guidelines have provided the means to respect the diversity of cultural interpretations of what constitutes heritage.

In order to recognize the significance of heritage resources, it is essential to identify and work with the biases that influenced past designations (i.e. places officially recognized by an authority as having significance) as well as integrate the multiple perspectives that come into play in current definitions of heritage.

Learning objectives

  1. Articulate the different ways in which heritage value and significance can be understood.
  2. Recognize the different types of heritage resources.
  3. Identify and analyze different evaluation systems and criteria that meet program goals and stakeholder requirements.
  4. Understand the range of information sources that can and should inform a heritage evaluation; evaluate a “place” to determine its cultural heritage value, boundaries and significance.
  5. Write a statement of significance; and understand the role of determining significance in values-based heritage resource management. 


  1. Current or prior work or volunteer experience at a heritage/cultural organization or historic site would be an asset. Participants will be required to select a heritage site to which they have physical access to use as their case study. This place will be used as the basis for all of the assignments. It is the responsibility of the participant to ensure they can complete all course assignments and contribute meaningfully to all course discussions by drawing from the readings, their own previous experience and what they learn about their chosen site. Please contact the program office if you have questions.
  2. Access to a computer with a reliable internet connection.
  3. University-level research, writing, and critical thinking skills.


Dr. Marcus Letourneau, MCIP, RPP, CAHP, CIPM I

Dr. Letourneau is President of M. R. Letourneau and Associates Inc., a specialized heritage and strategic planning firm focused on creative solutions for the management of cultural heritage resources.  He is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the School of Planning and Contributing Associate for the Heritage Resources Centre at the University of Waterloo and an Instructor for the Cultural Resource Management program at the University of Victoria. He co-teaches the facilities management course for the Ontario Museum Association. As of September 2023, he serves as a Subject Matter Expert/Course Author for Algonquin College’s new Bachelor of Applied Science in Building Conservation (launching 2024).  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of ICOMOS Canada, as Chair of the Leeds and Thousand Islands MHC, and on both the Board of Directors for the Friends of Springfield House Complex and Leeds and Thousand Islands Historical Society. 

Marcus is the founder and was the Managing Principal for LHC Heritage Planning & Archaeology Inc., an Ontario-based heritage consultancy with offices in Kingston, Toronto, Ottawa, and Huntsville (2015-2023). He also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University (2013-2023), as well as the Manager for the Sustainability and Heritage Management Discipline Team (Ottawa/Kingston) and a Senior Cultural Heritage Specialist for Golder Associates Limited (2011-2015). His other positions included: co-teaching heritage planning at the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts; serving as a contract professor at Carleton University in both the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies and School of Canadian Studies (Heritage Conservation); as the senior heritage planner for the City of Kingston (2004-2011) where he worked in both the Planning & Development and Cultural Services Departments; and, in various capacities at Queen’s University at Kingston (2001-2007).  He previously served on the Executive and Board of Directors for the Ontario Association of Heritage Professionals; on the Board of Directors for Community Heritage Ontario; on the Board of Directors of the Friends of the Rideau, and on the Executive and Board of Directors for the Kingston Historical Society. 

Marcus has a PhD in Cultural/Historical Geography (Queen’s University); an MA in Cultural Geopolitics (University of Western Ontario); a BA (Hons) in Geography with a History Minor (Queen’s University); a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies (University of Waterloo); a Professional Certificate in Heritage Conservation Planning (University of Victoria); a Certificate in Museum Studies (Ontario Museum Association); and training in Marine/Foreshore Archaeology. He also completed ICCROM/WHITRAP training in China on impact assessments for heritage. In 2022, he completed ICCROM/Athabasca University training on communication and teaching skills for conservation. He is currently completing a Master of Planning degree from the University of Guelph where his research is focusing on Canada’s Commission of Conservation (1909-1921). He is a registered professional planner (MCIP, RPP), Professional Member of the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals (CAHP) and holds a CIPM I certification from the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection (IFCPP).

Marcus brings over 20 years of experience to his practice, which is particularly focused on heritage legislation, strategic planning, heritage planning and processes. He has been involved in over 300 projects either as the project director, project manager or as the senior heritage planner. He has been qualified as an expert heritage witness for the Ontario Land Tribunal (former OMB/LPAT/CRB) (heritage planning with a specialization in cultural heritage landscapes; land use planning with a specialization in heritage conservation; cultural heritage specialist, and heritage conservation), and as an expert witness for both a Superior Court Hearing and a judicial inquiry for the Public Lands Act. He co-authored the second edition of Heritage Planning (Routledge) with Dr. Hal Kalman (2020).


What participants are saying

"The methodologies and workflow processes provided valuable transferable skills."


Online format using the learning management system (LMS), Brightspace, over a 14-week period, requiring approximately 12-14 rigorous hours of coursework per week.

Students login to the course and communicate with the instructor and fellow students via the Brightspace course site. This course follows an asynchronous delivery model.

This course will use online text-based notes and/or PowerPoint presentations, forum-based discussions, individual and individual assignments, and print and online readings/resources. In addition to completing assignments and activities, participants are expected to contribute meaningfully and frequently to forum-based discussions weekly. The mode of contact with the course instructor is via email or online forums.

Attendance, participation and decorum

Whether registered as a credit or non-credit participant, you will be expected to:

  • login to the course website on a regular basis throughout each week
  • participate in class activities, and thoughtfully and articulately contribute to course forum discussions by reflecting upon assigned readings and professional experiences
  • submit course assignments on scheduled course deadline dates
  • notify course instructors of any personal leaves throughout the term that will affect class participation well in advance
  • notify the instructor of any situation that will compromise the timely submission of an assignment or activity to work out alternate arrangements well in advance of due date
  • provide work throughout the course that is effectively organized and researched, professionally presented, and well-written
  • interact with colleagues, program staff, and course instructors in a respectful and positive manner at all times


Privacy Considerations

In some cases, participants and the course instructor may discuss examples that reflect an actual situation, institution, or community. In order to create an environment where all feel free to discuss and learn from situational issues, it is asked that everyone respect the confidential nature of the institutions and communities being discussed.

While the site is password protected, note that email and course discussion forum groups are never entirely confidential and are subject to freedom of information and privacy legislation. Your use of these communication tools should reflect the public nature of the media.

We ask that you respect the copyright of any and all course materials and note that these are circulated and shared for the purposes of this course only. Further reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Personal information at the University is protected by the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) and the University’s Protection of Privacy Policy.

Disclosure of personal information to vendors, systems or services storing or accessing that information outside of Canada is restricted by s.30.1 of FIPPA.

Instructors may use a variety of educational technology in a course including internet-based technologies, or web-based applications, cloud services and social media. The use of technology is intended to enhance and/or deliver students’ education and is part of a students’ engagement at the University. Some of these technologies may collect, use, disclose, and store student and instructor personal information.

In some courses, instructors may require students to use educational technology and social media which stores personal information outside of Canada, in such cases, instructors will try to provide options (such as using an alias to register).

If students do not want their personal information stored or accessed outside of Canada, in certain rare instances, courses may not be available to them. If the course is required for the completion of a degree, alternatives will be provided.

Course Credit

1.5 units at UVic or may be taken on a non-credit basis.

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Info you should know:

Continuing Studies statement on use of educational technology

This course will require the use of Zoom and may use other education technology such as internet-based applications, cloud services, or social media. In order to complete this course you will be required to either consent to the disclosure of your personal information outside of Canada to enable use of these technologies, or work with the Division of Continuing Studies to explore other privacy protective options (such as using an alias or nickname).