They’re affixed to old buildings where someone important used to live. Or they’re mounted on a rock overlooking somewhere where something once happened.

Cast in bronze or lettered on a sign, they’re sometimes the only history lesson many of us ever get. And now Parks Canada wants hundreds of them changed.

“The way that many of the national historic designations are framed and positioned does not do justice to the breadth of impacts that they had on Canadian society,” said Patricia Kell, the agency’s director of heritage.

Parks is in the middle of a three-year program to re-examine and rewrite the plaques that the Historic Sites and Monuments Board use to point out places deemed important to understanding Canada’s past.

Sites slated for rewrite include fur trade forts such as Fort Langley in British Columbia and Manitoba’s York Factory. Others relate to the War of 1812, like Queenston Heights in Ontario.

Some involve historic figures who held beliefs at odds with current standards. They include one of the Fathers of Confederation, John A. Macdonald; Archibald Belaney, otherwise known as Grey Owl; and Nicholas Flood Davin, founder of one of the West’s first newspapers.

The rationale for the changes, as well as a list of priority sites, is outlined in a document obtained under Freedom of Information legislation.

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