The Origins of Landscape Architecture in Canada

Landscape Architecture is the profession which applies artistic and scientific principles to the planning and management of both natural and built environments.

Professionally executed works of Landscape Architecture in Canada date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of these were private estates, public parks and gardens, housing layouts and regional urban plans.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the notable American Landscape Architect who designed Central Park, New York, in 1858, introduced a number of Canadian landscape architects to the profession. Frederick G. Todd of Montreal, who worked with Olmsted, was commissioned in about 1915, to prepare a plan for the National Capital in Ottawa, and during the 1920’s and 1930’s to complete designs for the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, St. Helen’s Island, Montreal, Tuxedo Park, Winnipeg and Bowring Park St. John’s.

Thomas Mawson, the first president of the Institute of Landscape Architects in Great Britain, toured Canada in 1912 and accepted numerous commissions, such as the great Wascana Center complex in Regina, a proposal for Coal Harbour-Lost Lagoon Park in Vancouver, and urban design plans for Banff and downtown Calgary.

Howard Burlington Dunington Grubb was a principal designer in Mawson’s office in England and upon coming to Canada in 1912, started a practice in Toronto. He and his wife, Laurie Alfreda Dunington Grub designed numerous estates and public gardens in Brantford, Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Toronto. To support their landscape designs, they began a nursery in Mississauga, then known as Sheridan, Their office flourished until the 1960’s providing a number of Canadian Landscape Architects with their first professional experience.

Many prominent Canadian landscape architects were trained at Ontario Agricultural College, in Guelph. In the mid 1960’s, a course of study in Landscape Architecture was initiated at the University of Guelph, Toronto, and Montreal. Later, a program was established at the University of British Columbia and a course of study in Landscape Architectural Technology was begun at Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto. In the early 1970’s, the faculty of Architecture at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg developed the first Master of Landscape Architecture curriculum in Canada.

Membership in the founding Society was small, but by 1993, there was more than 1000 members nation-wide. Landscape Architects provide professional services in all Canadian provinces and territories and in many countries world-wide.

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects 1993
With special appreciation to Mr. Humphrey Carver