Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Ferris, Neal


Cultural Resource Management (CRM) has transformed the practice of archaeology; however, little is known regarding general make-up and demographics for this dominant form of archaeological practice. Even less is understood concerning the views and sentiments of its practitioners. In Canada, no jurisdiction maintains practitioner profiles; subsequently, their training or understanding of the roles they play in mediating heritage resource compliance requirements for clients, Descendant communities, or heritage stakeholders like the wider archaeological community, is relatively unknown. Despite recent discourse focused on the operational side of CRM (e.g., nature, output, and consequences) insight on the values, ideals, and level expertise of practitioners is scarce. Hoping to further CRM comprehension, this thesis initiated two nation-wide surveys in 2021. The results outlined in this thesis provide new and improved observations of CRM practice, establishing a baseline future and longitudinal studies may draw from in the coming years, further developing a professional profile of CRM.

Summary for Lay Audience

Cultural Resource Management (CRM) is the professional industry concerned with heritage management, which includes cultural and archaeological resources (such as national historic sites, cultural landscapes, and archaeological sites), built heritage (such as historically important buildings and monuments), and museum and conservation studies. CRM is the result of the rise in heritage protection and legislation over the second half of the 20th century; in the 21st century, CRM has continued to expand, and is now the largest source of employment for archaeologists in North America (Dent 2016:46). However, despite CRM becoming a large component of the heritage sector, currently, very little is well understood about the practice or those working within it; for example, no government or organization involved with CRM track or document the demographic breakdown of the industry. Recent studies over the years have produced a hefty volume of literature on the nature and output of CRM, such as the consequences that this industry has on heritage management. However, there has been little research done to gain insight into the profession as it works day-to-day, and to explore how the values, decision making and backgrounds of those individuals working within CRM may affect the practice.

CRM can be argued as the most prominent form of archaeological practice, and therefore mostly defines archaeology’s relevance in Canadian society today. This importance necessitates the need for a clear understanding of the practice – such as the make-up of employment, credentials, diversity of personnel, and staffing roles – as the profession affects all stakeholders, such as the general public, the wider archaeological community, and especially Descendant communities, whose heritage is being directly managed by CRM. In an effort to broaden the understanding of the industry and its practitioners, my research circulated two online surveys: one to CRM firms, and the other as an open request to all CRM archaeologists. The survey results are presented in this thesis and provide new and improved insights of CRM by developing a professional profile that will act as a baseline from which future researchers can draw upon and add to in the years ahead.