Heritage Building Methodology

How were buildings chosen for placement on the Community Heritage Register when it was first created in 1998 and 2001?


  1. Identification of Potential Sites:  There were a number of previous inventory projects, including fieldwork undertaken in the 1970s for the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings, that identified over 500 sites in total. Lists of identified sites were consolidated, and other resources identified through background research were added to this list. A public nomination was undertaken and the community at large was invited to submit addresses and information for consideration. 

  2. Broadly-Based Historical Research:  Existing historical information was surveyed for relevant data regarding settlement patterns and background on specific persons and buildings. Other pertinent research sources were also identified at this point. The general history of the city was traced, and major transportation routes identified.

  3. Field Survey:  All of the identified sites were surveyed. To ensure that significant resources had not been missed early transportation routes in all areas were examined. Many of the previously identified resources were found to be altered or demolished. Those resources chosen for further study were photographed, and an inventory form was filled out that gave a physical, structural and contextual description of the resource.

  4. Focused Research: The buildings identified in the field survey were then more fully researched to identify their historical importance to the community. Municipal and archival records were examined that allowed for consistent and accurate identification. The most useful records were those held in the collection of the Nanaimo Community Archives, and the Tax Assessment Rolls from 1875, held by the City of Nanaimo. Other research sources that were consulted included relevant BC Directories from 1886, previous research conducted for the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings, historic photographs and maps located in the Provincial Archives of BC, the Vancouver Public Library Historical Photographs Division, and the City of Vancouver Archives. All of the information from these listed sources was then combined to provide the historic background for each listed building. Much additional historical information of general interest was unearthed during this process, and the status of a number of sites was reconfirmed. The completed inventory forms were then assembled as an inventory master report for further reference purposes.

  5. Final Evaluation: The inventoried buildings were then assessed as to their overall importance to the area. The following criteria were used in the evaluation of each building.

Architectural History 

  • Style/Type: Is the building's style representative of the city's significant development periods; or a building type associated with a significant industrial, institutional, commercial or transportation activity? 

  • Design: Does the building have notable or special attributes of an aesthetic or functional nature? These may include massing, proportion, materials, detail, fenestration, ornamentation, artwork, or functional layout.

  • Construction: Is the building constructed of unique or uncommon building material, or is it constructed using an early or innovative method of construction?
  • Designer/Builder: Did the buildings architect, designer, engineer and/or builder make a significant professional contribution to the city, province or nation?

Cultural History

  • Historical Association: Does the building have a direct association with a person, group, institution, event or activity that is of historical significance to the city, province or nation
  • Historical Pattern: Is the building associated with broad patterns of local area history, including development and settlement patterns, early or important transportation routes, ecological or geographic change, significant landforms, or social, political or economic trends?


  • Landscape/Site: Are there intact historical landscape or landscape features associated with the building; or a notable historical relationship between a building's site and its immediate environment, including original native trees and topographical features; or a notable use of landscaping in conjunction with an existing building?
  • Neighbourhood: Does the building exhibit continuity and compatibility with adjacent buildings
  • Visual/Symbolic Importance: Is the building a landmark structure; does it have value to the city or a local area or neighbourhood?


  • Has the building been modified or altered since its original construction?

Heritage Register Nominations

The Community Heritage Register is updated periodically, usually on an annual basis. If you would like to nominate a building, structure, or site for placement on the Register, please complete the Nomination Form and contact us directly.

Last updated: August 2, 2023

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