UNESCO – Canada
This is the third installment in which we bring these world treasures to our readers country by country. See the March-April issue for the World Heritage Sites in the United States and May-June issue for those in Mexico. Each of the hyperlinks will take you to more information.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972. There are twenty World Heritage Sites in Canada, and 14 more on the Tentative List. (There are three different types of properties possible: cultural, natural, and mixed and the criteria by which the site was unscripted on the list is shown parenthetically after the site name.) The Tentative List is an inventory of important heritage and natural sites that a country is considering for inscription on the World Heritage List. It can be updated at any time, but inclusion on the list is a prerequisite to being considered for inscription.
1 Dinosaur Provincial Park (natural)in Alberta is 18,520 acres noted for the beauty of its badland landscape and as a major fossil site. Specimens of every group of Cretaceous dinosaurs have been found here including those of 35 species dating more than 75 million years ago. (Badlands are a type of dry terrain characterized by steep slopes, minimal vegetation where softer sedimentary rocks and clay-rich soils have been extensively eroded. They are found on every continent except Antarctica, are often difficult to navigate by foot, and are unsuitable for agriculture.)
2 Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks (natural) in British Columbia and Alberta has high peaks, glaciers, lakes, waterfalls, canyons and limestone caves; the National Parks that make up this site exemplify the exceptional features of the Rocky Mountains. One of the world’s most celebrated fossil fields, the Burgess Shale Formation is located within the 5,700,430-acre site.
3 Gros Morne National Park (natural) in Newfoundland and Labrador it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada (697 sq mi). It gets its name from Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak (at 2,644 ft) located within the park, the French meaning of which is “large mountain standing alone.”
4 Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (cultural) in Alberta consists of the remains of a camp of trails and a tumulus of bones of the American bison bearing testimony to nearly 6000 years of communal hunting in which the bisons were driven over a cliff, a practice known as buffalo (or bison) jump.
5 The Historic District of Old Québec (cultural) in Quebec City, Quebec was founded by the French in the 17th century. The urban ensemble of Old Québec is the most complete example of a European fortified town north of Mexico.
6 Joggins Fossil Cliffs (natural) in Nova Scotia is a paleontological site containing the most complete terrestrial fossil record of over 350,000 million years ago including tracks of early animals and of the rainforest they lived in.
7 Kluane / Wrangell-St Elias / Glacier Bay / Tatshenshini-Alsek (natural) In British Columbia, Yukon and Alaska) is an international system of parks with the world’s largest non-polar icefield, some of the largest glaciers and a tectonically active mountain landscape. They are home to a number of species endangered elsewhere such as bears, wolves, caribou and Dall sheep.
8 Landscape of Grand-Pré (cultural) in Nova Scotia is an exceptional example of the adaptation of the first European settlers to the conditions of the North American Atlantic coast. It is also a memorial to the Acadian way of life and deportation, which started in 1755, known as the Grand Dérangement.( the forced removal by the British of the Acadian people from the present-day Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, and the present-day U.S. state of Maine).
9 L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site (cultural) in Newfoundland and Labrador are the remains of an 11th-century Viking settlement and the first and only known site of Norse presence and the earliest known European settlement in America outside of Greenland.
10 Miguasha National Park (natural) on Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec is a paleontological site considered to be the world’s most outstanding illustration of the Devonian Period known as the ‘Age of Fishes’. Dating from 370 million years ago, its significance comes from the discovery there of the highest number and best-preserved fossil specimens of the lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to the first four-legged, air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates – the tetrapods.
11 Mistaken Point (natural) in Newfoundland and Labrador is 1,400 acres which contain the oldest evidence known of early multi-cellular life on the planet with fossils calculated to be 560–575 million years old.
12 Nahanni National Park (natural) in Northwest Territories is a name derived from the indigenous Dene people (meaning ‘river of the land of our people’). It was among the world’s first four natural heritage locations to be inscribed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1978 because of its picturesque wild rivers, canyons, and waterfalls. It has four noteworthy canyons reaching 3,300 ft in depth (called First, Second, Third and Fourth Canyon).
13 Old Town Lunenburg (cultural) in Nova Scotia is a well-preserved example of 18th century British colonial urban planning, which has undergone no significant changes since its foundation, and which largely continues to fulfill the economic and social purposes for which it was designed.
14 Pimachiowin Aki (mixed) in Manitoba and Ontario is the first ‘mixed’ cultural and natural World Heritage site in Canada. It is a managed landscape of 11,000 square miles on the ancestral lands of four First Nations peoples (Poplar River First Nation, Little Grand Rapids First Nation, Pauingassi First Nation, and Bloodvein First Nation). The name means ‘land that gives life’ in Ojibwe. It is home to millions of trees, hundreds of lakes, rivers, and wetlands, over a thousand plant and animal species, and an ancient living culture that thrives today. It is the largest protected area in the North American boreal shield.
15 Red Bay Basque Whaling Station (cultural) in Red Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador as a major Basque whaling area between 1550 and the early 17th century. The discovery of three Basque whaling galleons and four small chalupas used in the capture of whales makes Red Bay one of the most precious underwater archaeological sites in the Americas.
16 Rideau Canal (cultural) in Ontario oldest continuously operated canal system in North America. It opened in 1832 as a precaution in case of war with the United States and it is still in use, with much of its original structure intact.
17 SG̱ang Gwaay (“Red Cod Island”) (cultural) in British Columbia, commonly known by its English name Ninstints, is a village site of the Haida people and part of the . Archaeological evidence shows that it has been inhabited for at least 10,000 years, and today features the largest collection of Haida totem poles in their original locations.
18 Waterton Glacier International Peace Park (natural) in Alberta and Montana is the union of Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada and Glacier National Park in the United States. Both parks have been declared Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO.
19 Wood Buffalo National Park (natural) in Alberta and Northwest Territories, at 17,300 square miles, it is (larger than Switzerland and) the largest national park of Canada and the second largest national park in the world. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada designated the site as the world’s largest dark-sky preserve to help preserve nighttime ecology for the park’s large populations of bats, night hawks and owls, as well as providing opportunities for visitors to experience the northern lights.
20 Writing-on-Stone / Áísínai’pi (cultural) in Alberta contains the greatest concentration of rock art on the North American Great Plains and is sacred to the Niitsítapi (Blackfoot) people.