The Profession

The common attributes of a profession are:

  • a unique body of knowledge
  • standards of entry
  • a code of ethics
  • a service orientation to both the profession and the public
  • a sanctioning organization

Landscape architecture is the profession which applies artistic and scientific principles to the research, planning, design and management of both natural and built environments. Practitioners of this profession apply creative and technical skills, and scientific, cultural and political knowledge in the planned arrangement of natural and constructed elements on the land with a concern for the stewardship and conservation of natural, constructed and human resources. The resulting environments shall serve useful, aesthetic, safe and enjoyable purposes.

Landscape architecture may, for the purpose of landscape preservation, development and enhancement, include: investigation, selection and allocation of land and water resources for appropriate uses; feasibility studies; formulation of graphic and written criteria to govern the planning and design of land construction programs; preparation, review and analysis of master plans for land use and development; production of overall site plans, landscape grading and drainage plans, irrigation plans, planting plans and construction details; specifications; cost estimates and reports for land development; collaboration in the design of roads, bridges and structures with respect to the functional and aesthetic requirements of the areas on which they are to be placed; negotiation and arrangement for execution of land area projects; field observation and inspection of land area construction, restoration and maintenance. (Approved by the OALA Council, January 17, 1984).

The David Bradley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden at the Royal Botanical Gardens
Janet Rosenberg & Studio Inc., 2017 CSLA Award Winner


The term landscape architect was first used in 1860 to describe the professional landscape design activities of Frederick Law Olmsted, designer of New York City’s Central Park. Olmsted, considered North America’s most influential landscape architect, also designed Mount Royal Park in more >

Ken Hoyle writes that "legislation restricting the practice of landscape architecture was required to protect the public -- who were, more and more, trusting the changes of their land to landscape architects -- and to protect the landscape architects from those who did not have the knowledge and skills to advise wisely on changes to the land" (Hoyle, 1989). Landscape architects were feeling the need to publicly define their area of professional expertise, and to gain the credibility that legislation would give them.

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"As a result of several years of discussion on the subject of education of Landscape Architects inCanada, the Education Committee felt that 1961 was the time to establish a school. Activity regarding the course awaited the Ontario Government decision to give university status to theOntario Agricultural College... A very important event (1962) was the appointment of Victor Chanasyk as Professor of Landscape Architecture at the Department of Horticulture, Ontario Agricultural College (now the School of Landscape Architecture, University of Guelph)...

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The first move toward professional legislation occurred in 1952 when Edwin Kay "pointed out the desirability of protection by legislation for Landscape Architects similar to that enjoyed by the allied professions of engineering and architecture. The great drawback to this was the lack of aSchool of Landscape Architecture in Canada... discussions concerning it dragged on for years" (F.B., manuscript).

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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.

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The OALA Act

The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects Act 4th Session, 32nd Legislature, Ontario 33 Elizabeth II, 1984 An Act respecting The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects read more >

Organizational Structure

The OALA is governed by an elected and appointed Council comprised of 15 members representing Full Members, Associate Members, Educators from the Universities of Guelph and Toronto, student representatives from the Universities of Guelph and Toronto, and the general public though the lay councillor. read more >

Code of Ethics

The Ontario Association of Landscape Architects (OALA) is a self-regulating professional association.The OALA is a component association of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA). read more >

OALA Council

List of name, information and background of the President, Councilors and Associate Representative. read more >