Preservation | Rehabilitation | Restoration

These are the three most commonly used terms to describe physical work undertaken at any culturally valuable heritage site. They are often confused with each other and misunderstood,

but are entirely seperate paths. In understanding how these differ, and by choosing one path as the "Primary Treatment" or the "Conservation Approach", one can set about providing

the most effective treatment to a task in hand. After this important step is put in place, which will guide the work to be undertaken, the paths will most likely cross in areas - which

is entirely acceptable, while maintaining the understanding of the overall guiding approach.

The following definitions are guidelines provided by the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada


Preservation involves protecting, maintaining and stabilizing the existing form, material and integrity of an historic place or individual component, while protecting its heritage value.

Preservation can include both short-term and interim measures to protect or stabilize the place, as well as long-term actions to stave off deterioration or prevent damage. This will keep

the place serviceable through routine maintenance and small repairs, rather than inoperable during intrusive interventions, extensive replacement and new construction. In archaeological

sites, Preservation can consist of creating or maintaining a stable environment for the character-defining elements to extend their physical life.


Rehabilitation involves the sensitive adaptation of an historic place or individual component for a continuing or compatible contemporary use, while protecting its heritage value.

Rehabilitation can include replacing missing historic features. The replacement may be an accurate replica of the missing feature or it may be a new design compatible with the style, era and

character of the historic place. In the context of archaeological sites, Rehabilitation allows their compatible use through actions aimed at communicating and conveying their heritage value.


Restoration involves accurately revealing, recovering or representing the state of an historic place or individual component as it appeared at a particular period in its history, while

protecting its heritage value. Restoration may include removing non character-defining features from other periods in its history and recreating missing features from the restoration period.

Restoration must be based on clear evidence and detailed knowledge of the earlier forms and materials being recovered. Restoration does not apply to archaeological sites because archaeology

does not favour one period over another. The value lies partly in the information the sites contain. In a cultural landscape, the difference must be clearly understood between ecological

restoration and restoration as a heritage conservation treatment.