What is a Thematic Framework?

A thematic framework is a structure that uses themes to help conceptualize past events and to place sites, people and events into their historical context. Historical themes are defined as key ideas for describing a major historical force or process which has contributed to the history and evolution of a place.

How Do Thematic Frameworks Help Identify Heritage Resources?

Thematic frameworks have a number of interconnected uses in the identification and management of heritage resources.

They are an important tool for both the contextual overview of heritage resources and the comparative analysis of the significance of individual resources. Themes guide judgments about what types of heritage resources might exist on a site or in an area, and assist in the assessment of their heritage significance. The use of major themes can draw attention to gaps in existing histories.

Thematic Frameworks Support Value-Based Heritage Conservation

Thematic frameworks support value-based heritage conservation, which is currently considered best practices in Canada. The organizing of a community’s heritage into themes is an excellent fit for values-based conservation and heritage management because it supports a broad, layered and inclusive perspective of heritage values and resources.

Discovering Where Stories and Places Fit in the Overall Context

Linking heritage resources with one or more themes helps to determine a site’s comparative significance in a local, regional, national and international context, assisting in the process of determining which sites should be conserved or protected.

A thematic framework helps communities to identify and manage a range of sites that represent aspects of local, regional, national or international histo­ry. Gaps in the stories of particular neighbourhoods can be identified, facili­tating the management and interpretation of additional heritage resources.

The concept of representativeness can also be used as a tool to select the best examples of a particular type of heritage resource, given that capacity for the management and interpretation of historic sites will always be limited.

Coquitlam's Heritage Themes

Aspects of Coquitlam’s heritage are organized under the following seven themes, which together seek to succinctly encapsulate the history, physical character and central stories found in its community heritage, as well as creating a web of relationships and storylines linking the city’s history, heritage values and historical resources.

These themes are unique to Coquitlam and are intended to serve as a foundational tool of the heritage strategy, informing decision-making around heritage conservation into the future and providing confidence and consistency around heritage decision-making in Coquitlam, from initial questions at the inquiry desk to complex developments and Council priorities.

Click to read about each of the draft themes for Coquitlam's heritage:

Uplands to Lowlands: Geography Shapes a City

A Regional Nexus

Diverse Landscape, Diverse People

Sustenance Economy to Commercial Centre

Community Connections

Canoe Route to SkyTrain

Evolving Community Identity


Story Image: North Road

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