Profession

Our Journey

Landscape architecture was formally organized as a profession in Canada in 1934. The precedents for establishing a society were the British Institute of Landscape Architects, formed five years earlier in 1929, and the American Society of Landscape Architects which had been established for 35 years, since its inception in 1899.

The Early Years

The official founding of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects & Town Planners occurred in March 1934 at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The nine founding members were Howard Dunington-Grubb, Lorrie Alfreda Dunington-Grubb, J. Vilhelm Stensson, Carl Borgstrom, Gordon Culham, Helen Kippax, Edwin Kay, Frances Steinhoff, and Humphrey Carver. Humphrey Carver recalls that this was “a small group of landscape architects who came to know one another and enjoy one another’s company very much. The Grubbs were the centre of this circle… We used to meet in the garden of the Diet Kitchen Restaurant, on Bloor Street, and together we founded the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects…” (Carver, 1975)

Gordon Culham was elected president and H.B. Dunington-Grubb was vice-president.

Frances Blue, an early member, comments that this was “the depth of the depression and landscape architecture was probably hit harder than any other profession… that did not dim their enthusiasm — they planned a publication, a botanical garden, numerous schools of landscape architecture…” (F.B., unpublished manuscript).

By 1938 the membership had grown to fifteen. An advertisement for the Society in Canadian Homes & Gardens (15: Sept. 1938, p. 69) lists N. Boudreau, Montreal; Carl Borgstrom, Lorne Park; H.S.M. Carver, Lorne Park; Gordon Culham, Toronto; Norman Dryden, Guelph; H.B. and L.A. Dunington-Grubb, Toronto; Edwin Kay, Toronto; Helen M. Kippax, Toronto; Louis Perron, Montreal; Leonard E. Schlemm, Montreal; Robert Sparks, Kingston; Frances C. Steinhoff, Toronto; J. Wilhelm Stensson, Toronto; and Frederick Todd, Montreal. The roster had begun to include members outside of Ontario.

This early membership of the society reflected both the British and American influences on the profession in Canada. The Beaux Arts architecturally decorative style met the naturalistic, neo-romantic style that heralded the ecological approach. The Modern movement with its concern for the interests of society — housing and public open space — meshed with the current interest in town planning. (The Town Planning Institute of Canada had ceased to exist and the two professions overlapped for a time.)

Shaping Ottawa

Two of the members, Gordon Culham and Frederick Todd, had been associated with the Olmstead Brothers on projects from their Brookline, Massachusetts office. In 1912 Frederick Todd had been asked by the federal agency, the Ottawa Improvement Commission, to make the first proposal for the construction and improvement of the capital area.

Frances Blue comments that “many of his proposals now form an accepted part of the fabric ofOttawa and the area. Such things as the driveway system; the concept of Gatineau Park; the importance of the waterways; the symbolism of Parliament Hill, all received detailed and comprehensive attention by Mr. Todd”. (F.B., manuscript).