Professional Associations and International Organizations

Jacques Dalibard extended his work beyond Canada. The international professional organizations he was involved with helped define heritage preservation as a discipline and brought Canada’s preservation efforts to the world stage. Dalibard illustrated to the world the work being undertaken in North America and served as an expert to evaluate proper conservation practices elsewhere.

Photograph of tools and hardware for Fortress of Louisbourg restorationTools and hardware for Fortress of Louisbourg restoration


In 1968, early in his career, Dalibard was involved in establishing the Association for Preservation Technology (APT), a cross-disciplinary membership organization dedicated to promoting the best technology for conserving historic structures and their settings. Originally established as a joint venture between practitioners in Canada and the United States, its membership now spans nineteen countries.

Dalibard and other preservation professionals conceived APT in order to share knowledge and resources, with a view to setting standards to which they could refer when doing their work. It sought to professionalize the field, notably by drawing on the experience of American preservationists, many of whom had already been practicing for ten years. [1] APT continues today to provide members globally with a forum to share technical knowledge via conferences, publications, and a quarterly newsletter.[2]

The development of APT was important in the history of the preservation movement. At the time, little was known of proper methods of preservation and specialized approaches were not considered to be necessary for retrofitting historic buildings. Standards for retrofitting were the same as those for new construction, and building codes were the same for both. Improving the availability of specialised information would not only benefit restoration architects. It would also provide building professionals in general with relevant background on restoration projects, making the process of restoration less obscure for developers and helping to encourage better practices.[3]

APT limited itself to the sharing of technical knowledge. Dalibard summed up its purpose as follows: “before APT, you frequently had the feeling that there was someone somewhere who had found a solution to the problem that you were facing. Conversely, before APT, you couldn’t share the experience you had gained or the information you had uncovered. In other words, before APT, we were forever reinventing the wheel.”[4] As the refurbishment of older buildings gained popularity, professional standards became increasingly necessary.[5]

Dalibard was instrumental in the establishment of the association, a lifelong member, and contributor to its knowledge-sharing networks via its publications and conferences. In APT’s early days, he and Meredith Sykes, both students of James Marston Fitch at Columbia, dedicated much of their free time and space to the organization, “our dining room turned into a boardroom, our living room into an office, our basement into archives and storage. In short, most of our free time was devoted to APT.”[6]

Photograph showing the view of a street ending in an archway at the restored Fortress of LouisbourgRestored streetscape at the Fortress of Louisbourg


The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is a global non-governmental organization associated with UNESCO established in 1965 as a result of the Venice Charter. It is the advisory body of the World Heritage Committee for the Implementation of the World Heritage Convention of UNESCO. In the beginning, ICOMOS membership was mainly European. Dalibard brought the perspective of the Canadian preservation movement to the international stage. Notably, at the fourth general assembly of ICOMOS, he was an early advocate for the preservation of vernacular architecture and grassroots preservation actions.[7]

In an ICOMOS speech, Dalibard pointed out that the organization’s mandate goes beyond the titular monuments and sites to include urban and rural settings. This left the door open for vernacular architecture and industrial heritage.[8] As Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Dalibard advocated for ICOMOS to renew its relevance and expand its focus beyond Europe, He also encouraged the organization to create an approach to plan, promote, and implement practical programmes and information exchanges.[9]

As founder and President of ICOMOS Canada, Dalibard helped establish the link between professionals working at museums and national historic sites in Canada with the rest of the global heritage movement.


UNESCO’s constitution was signed in London in 1945 and the organisation came into existence in November 1946. Its purpose is to “contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the people of the peoples of the world, without distinction or race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.”[10]

Dalibard’s involvement with UNESCO primarily concerned the World Heritage Convention and the push to recognize historic buildings and sites as valuable parts of human history, rather than the history of one people or country. This recognition is intended to foster a global understanding that designated historic sites and monuments should be protected during times of armed conflict. Dalibard's involvement with UNESCO began in 1974 when he was asked to assess the damage to cultural heritage during the war in Cyprus. He remained an advocate for the creation of inventories of world heritage sites and items, to be actively maintained by countries in the event of an armed conflict, while emphasising that the protection of cultural property must also be done at a grassroots level.[11]

[1] Diana S. Waite and Laura Shore, “Three Decades of Interdisciplinary Preservation Technology: APT Celebrates Its Thirtieth Anniversary,” APT Bulletin Vol. 29, No. 3/4, 1998

[2] Dalibard, “APT: How it All Started”, APT Bulletin, Vol. 29, No. 3/4, 1998

[3] Dalibard, “The Management of the Built Environment” 1981, A-970

[4] Dalibard, “APT Speech, Boston, 1988”, A-971

[5] Ibid.

[6] Waite and Shore, “Three Decades"

[7] Dalibard, “The Conservation of Small Historic Towns in North America”, May 1975, Jacques Dalibard Papers and Articles, A-981

[8] Ibid.

[9] Dalibard, “Report of the Chairman of the ICOMOS Advisory Committee Lauzanne, Switzerland, October, 1990 By Jacques Dalibard”, A-971

[10] Article 1 “Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization”, Basic Texts, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations, (Paris: UNESCO, 2004)

[11] Dalibard, “Mostar and All That”, A-970

Restoration work at the Fortress of Louisbourg
Restoration work being undertaken indoors
Restoration work at the Fortress of Louisbourg
Restoration work being undertaken on a lighthouse