Heritage Canada Foundation

The Heritage Canada Foundationwas established in 1973 under Executive Director R.A.J. Phillips and chairman Hartland M. MacDougall, with a federal endowment of $12 million, as a national organization, registered charity and trust for the federal Crown for the preservation and demonstration of the nationally significant historic, architectural, natural and scenic heritage of Canada. It was created to be Canada's national historic trust and to encourage Canadians to take an active role in preserving heritage property. The foundation is guided by its Board of Governors, composed of 12 elected members. The board usually meets 3 times a year to approve the foundation's policies and programs.

During its first 10 years, the foundation focused on the protection and use of heritage properties, stimulating provincial and territorial legislation and spearheading demonstration projects in conservation districts from St John's, Newfoundland, to Dawson City, YT. Generating public support and involvement in heritage issues has been a central goal of the foundation. In addition to producing periodicals, in English and French, the foundation administers an awards program and holds conferences throughout Canada. Since its inception, the foundation has preserved more than 75 heritage buildings through a revolving fund.

Beginning in 1978, the foundation has provided leadership and training through its Main Street program to revitalize the often-neglected cores of downtowns. Nearly 200 communities have benefited from this program. To reverse the rapid disappearance of early railway stations, the foundation steered the Heritage Railway Stations Protection Act through Parliament in 1988, saving hundreds of vulnerable buildings. At the national level, as well, the foundation has been working to improve tax laws that discriminate against heritage property. To underline the importance of heritage to Canada as a nation the foundation began campaigning for a holiday on Heritage Day, the third Monday in February. Heritage Day has also become an annual focal point for youth and community activities.

The foundation's awards program includes the Gabrielle Leger medal for lifetime contribution to heritage conservation, the Lieutenant Governor's award for an outstanding contribution provincially, and the Achievement Awards, presented in partnership with heritage organizations, for preservation and public awareness projects.