Do I need a permit to hunt for artifacts or excavate a site? Who owns any artifacts I find?

Heritage Permits

A heritage permit, issued by the Historic Resources Branch, is required to search for and collect heritage objects from any archaeological site on private or Crown land. A permit is obtained by filling out an application outlining where and when the individual will search for heritage objects, the methods to be used and the reasons for the activity. A heritage permit may restrict activities that can be conducted at a site, such as the areas to be investigated and how they will be examined.

Appropriate recording forms are issued with a permit to simplify preparing the report that is required as a condition of each permit.

A heritage permit is also required for metal detecting at known or potential archaeological sites. The Branch maintains a list of the types of archaeological sites where metal detecting is acceptable. Recording forms for metal detecting studies are issued with a heritage permit and, when completed, satisfy the basic report requirements.

Only professional or qualified avocational archaeologists are issued permits to excavate sites.

Download a copy of Provisions Regarding Found Human Remains (PDF)

Ownership of Artifacts

Any artifacts found after proclamation of The Heritage Resources Act in 1986 are the property of the Province of Manitoba. However, the Province provides for custodianship of heritage objects. Artifacts collected on private land remain in the custody of the property owner, although landowners may transfer their rights to other persons, including those who collected the artifacts. Heritage objects recovered on Crown land may remain in the custody of the persons who found them.

A heritage permit is required to remove heritage objects from Manitoba. The permit is issued by the Historic Resources Branch, following completion of the appropriate application.

The Branch has two publications available which discuss artifacts: Heritage Objects (PDF) and The Treatment, Care and Preservation of an Archaeological Collection.