Overview and Rationale

For 98 percent of the time that people have lived in British Columbia, no written records were made. Archaeological sites and oral tradition are the only vestiges of this rich history, which extends back at least 14,000 years.

Scientific study of the physical remains of past human activity is essential to understanding and appreciating cultural development in British Columbia. Archaeological sites in British Columbia may be of regional, provincial, national or international significance.

These sites are protected and managed for their historical, cultural, scientific and educational value to the general public, local communities, and First Nations.

Legislated archaeological protection in British Columbia predates the formation of the province as a colony in 1858, and the first provincial “antiquities” legislation dates to 1925. The current legislation was enacted in 1996 and is called the Heritage Conservation Act.

All provinces in Canada have similar legislation for protecting heritage resources, as do most other countries.

For more information, please see: