Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

HRIA Summary Stage 1

1 Historic Resources Overview Assessment

Documentary search
Direct consultation/interviews
Preliminary field reconnaissance
Prediction of historic resources potential and distribution in study area
Estimate of known and expected project
Rationale for proposed development
Recommendation of appropriate scope and strategy for detailed impact assessment
Overview report

2Detailed Impact Assessment
3Impact Management: Mitigation

Stage 1- Historic Resources Overview Assessment


An Historic Resources overview assessment is normally the initial step in the Historic Resources assessment process. The study will serve as a necessary basis for determining the level of continued involvement required within the Historic Resources assessment process.

The overview assessment is intended to:

  • identify and assess Historic Resources potential or sensitivity within the study area, and
  • recommend the appropriate methodology and scope for detailed impact assessment studies in Stage 2.

Although this may entail locating some Historic Sites in the field, a comprehensive inventory of the project area is not required at this stage.

The overview assessment will, on occasion, involve one or more supplemental objectives. For example, where detailed inventory and impact assessment are clearly required in Stage 2, it may be appropriate at this time to test the feasibility of implementing certain site survey strategies. The objective is to determine the most efficient and effective approach given local conditions.

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Documentary Search

This aspect of background research should involve a thorough review of library and archival literature and other relevant data sources. The research should include, but need not be limited to:

  • A check of extant records including the Newfoundland & Labrador Archaeological Site Inventory, the Canadian Inventory of Historic Buildings, legal land survey records, and other pertinent records and inventory files.
  • A review or summarization of all previous Historic Resources investigations or surveys in the study area, or in immediately adjacent areas.
  • A review of relevant information from published and unpublished sources on local and regional history, prehistory, architectural history, ethnohistory, cultural geography, palaeontology, and other pertinent disciplines.
  • A review of relevant paleoecological studies to assess past environmental conditions that may have influenced cultural adaptations.
  • Examination and interpretation of aerial photographs and geomorphological and pedological information as an aid for assessing potential for human habitation.

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Direct Consultation

Individuals and organizations with knowledge of the Historic Resources in the study area should be contacted where appropriate. The research objective shall be to compile information concerning the location, distribution, and significance of reported sites. In particular, interviews should be designed to elicit information which may facilitate constructing or confirming ethnographic and historic patterns of settlement, land use, and subsistence. Among those who should be consulted are local informants such as native groups, heritage societies, "Oldtimers', and specialists having local or regional expertise in the area. Specialists may include archaeologists, historians, ethnohistorians, palaeontologists, among others.

Interviews with various persons will provide the researcher with an opportunity to document public or community attitudes toward impacts on local historic resources which the proposed development may impose. These local perceptions and attitudes may have a significant bearing on resources management decision-making, and therefore must be reported. This is especially true when there is strong local interest and concern regarding the safety of a particular site, or a group of such sites. In some cases, it may be more appropriate to reserve this phase of research until Stage 2, when impacts are better understood.

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Preliminary Field Reconnaissance

The Historic Resources overview assessment may require some preliminary field reconnaissance. Preliminary reconnaissance may involve a simple overflight of the study area, or, if greater intensity is demanded, a field survey. Reconnaissance survey is intended to supplement background research and should be undertaken in the event that historical, ethnological, or other documentary sources necessary for assessing historic resources potential are insufficient or unavailable. It is also warranted in the case where many alternatives are under consideration for location of project facilities. In this case, an overview statement of resources potential in an area, based entirely on background research, may be inadequate for providing effective guidance in project planning. Historic Resources Division will provide assistance in determining the need or the appropriate intensity of preliminary field reconnaissance for specific development projects.

Reconnaissance survey should be primarily designed to provide a sufficient indication of Historic Resources potential in the study area and to identify both the need and the appropriate scope for further field studies. Although this may involve some ground reconnaissance, area coverage will usually be quite small relative to the overall size of the area being studied. The survey will seldom provide sufficient data to ensure an adequate estimate of all sites in an area. Information resulting from preliminary field reconnaissance should however,

  • confirm or refute the existence of sites reported or predicted from background
  • allow further predictions to be made about the distribution, density and potential significance of sites within the study area,
  • identify areas where sites are apparently absent, implying low or no potential,
  • verify, wherever possible, potential impacts imposed by the development projects, and
  • suggest the most appropriate survey methods or techniques to be used in an intensive field survey should such a survey be necessary.

By accomplishing these research objectives, the reconnaissance survey serves as a useful preliminary for designing and subsequently implementing a more effective and efficient site inventory survey in Stage 2.

Techniques employed in reconnaissance survey will vary depending on such factors as terram, vegetation, land use, ease of access, urbanization, the size of the project area, or the types of historic resources being sought. Where archaeological sites are anticipated, reconnaissance survey may require an on the ground inspection of selected areas. It may also be necessary for archaeologists to undertake some subsurface testing at this time to locate sites lacking surficial evidence, to delineate site boundaries, or, where necessary, to obtain sufficient information for preliminary site evaluation. For structural and architectural resources, a different approach from reconnaissance survey is normally required. A comprehensive drive-through or pedestrian inspection of areas having potential historical or architectural value would be generally appropriate for preliminary field reconnaissance.

In undertaking an historic resources overview assessment, the development proponent, or his consultant, is encouraged to develop innovative approaches to predicting or evaluating overall resource sensitivity or potential within the study area. In this respect, it is important to consult all relevant data sources. Furthermore, the services of varied specialists such as ethno-historians, architectural-historians, cultural anthropologists, and paleontologists should be drawn upon so as to make the fullest use of the information. Extended efforts at this initial stage in the assessment process will result in more efficient and cost-effective research in Stage 2.

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Overview Report Content and Recommended Format

Although the precise nature and activities of overview assessment will occasionally vary, the reporting guidelines which follow will generally be appropriate. The development proponent is encouraged to include the recommended types of information in approximately the same format illustrated below. Compliance with these reporting guidelines will greatly facilitate or expedite the review process. Overview assessment reports submitted to the Historic Resources Division for review should contain, as a minimum, the following sections:

1. Letter of Transmittal

2. Title Page

The title page should include:

  • the official development project name and location,
  • the type of historic resources assessment report,
  • the number of the permit under which the research activities were authorized,
  • the name and address of the agency for which the report was prepared,
  • the date of the report, and
  • the author's signature and title.

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3. Credit Sheet

The credit sheet should indicate the names, addresses and professional affiliations of the principle contributors to the overview study, including:

  • the director or supervisor
  • researcher(s), and
  • report author(s)

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4. Management Summary

The management summary consists of a brief overview of the study. Important findings and major recommendations should be emphasized.

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5. Table of Contents

The table of contents must be arranged in accordance with the sequence of topical headings and their corresponding page numbers.

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6. List of Figures, Plates, Tables, Appendices

All figures plates. tables. and appendices must be referenced by title and page number, and listed according to the order in which they appear in the text of the report.

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7. Introductory Statement

The introduction should include, but need not be limited to:

  • The introduction should include, but need not be limited to:
  • Stage I project planning objectives
  • the objectives and general scope of the historic resources overview assessment,
  • the agency and person(s) conducting the assessment and the kinds of professional expertise involved,
  • the dates and duration of the research, and
  • the organizational format of the report.

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8. Proposed Development Project

This section shall provide a brief summary, based on the initial prospectus, of all pertinent development aspects of the proposed project. With the aid of maps, engineering plans, photos, and other materials, and insofar as possible at this stage of project planning, the discussion should include:

  • boundaries of the projected impact zone or study area for each project alternative considered in Stage 1,
  • the kinds of impacts the proposed development action(s) would likely have on historical resources in the study area,
  • the kinds and anticipated locations of all ancillary activities and facilities,
  • all aspects of project scheduling,
  • the role the overview assessment played in project planning (e.g. how were the results of the overview assessment incorporated into preliminary project design; or how did the assessment assist in determining a preferred alternative?)
  • the preferred project alternative selected on the basis of environmental, socioeconomic, or engineering considerations.

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9. Study Area

This section shall provide a brief description of the study area. The discussion should emphasize biophysical characteristics, both past and present, that may have influenced the density, distribution, variety, and potential significance of historic resources.

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10. Methodology

The methodology section shall outline the basic research design or plan of study, and document the precise methods and equipment used to implement the research plan.

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11. Results

This section shall present the results of documentary research, direct consultation, and, if applicable, preliminary field reconnaissance. Information should be reported here only to the extent that it relates to the basic objectives of the overview assessment. Results of background research should include:

  • a description of past land uses, and land use patterns,
  • a summary of previous historic resources survey, investigations, or other projects within, or immediately adjacent to, the study area,
  • a brief narrative description of the types of sites reported, and
  • a map showing the precise or approximate location of all reported sites,

Results of preliminary field reconnaissance should include:

  • maps showing areas surveyed, and not surveyed,
  • maps showing the precise location of all sites observed and recorded,
  • a brief narrative description of all recorded sites,
  • results of subsurface testing, surface collecting, or both, if applicable,
  • a description of negative data (e.g. where and why sites not found?), and
  • a report on any field tests designed to determine the most suitable site survey strategy for the study area.

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12. Evaluation and Discussion

This section will evaluate the major findings of background research and preliminary field reconnaissance for the purpose of assessing resources potential in the study area. This assessment should be made from a local, regional, and provincial perspective, and should be based on l:nown sites, as well as reported and predicted sites. Based on research results, the assessor should:

  • identify major inadequacies in existing knowledge regarding the historic resources base,
  • state predictions about the type and number of sites to be expected,
  • discuss and, as far as possible, interpret the nature, distribution, and potential significance of historic resources values within the study area,
  • discuss in general terms, or to the extent possible, potential impacts on the historic resources base, and possible options available for managing impacts, and
  • discuss local public attitude toward the proposed development project, from a historic resources perspective.

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13. Recommendations

Based on 11 and 12 above, this section will:

  • where appropriate, recommend preferred project alternative(s),
  • identify and discuss the need for further studies in Stage 2, and
  • discuss the appropriate scope of future studies.

This discussion should include:

  • maps showing precise areas requiring intensive field survey,
  • justification, where appropriate, for a no-survey recommendation,
  • a description of areas requiring special field consideration and,
  • a recommendation indicating the intensive field survey strategy to be used in Stage 2.

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14. References Cited

This section shall provide a comprehensive list of all literary sources cited in the overview report such as publications, documents, records, etc. The reference list shall also include the names of persons consulted and cited in the report, as well as the date on which each communication was made.

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15. Appendices

A variety of information items may be appended to the overview report. Minimally, this section should include:

  • a copy of the proponent's or consultant's terms of reference for Stage 1 studies,
  • a comprehensive bibliography of data sources consulted, but not necessarily cited in the report, which may be useful for future research,
  • names and addresses of persons or organizations interviewed during the background research phase of the study, and
  • all recorded sites in the area, referenced by their appropriate Borden classification number, as well as sites reported in the literature or through informant interviews.

A detailed Stage 2 research proposal, indicating specific objectives, survey techniques, work schedules, and other information may also be appended to the overview assessment report. However, it must be recognized that significant changes may be required of the proposal before authorization to undertake Stage 2 research is given. Such changes can only be determined once the Historic Resources Division has had an opportunity to review the Stage 1 submission.

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