50 Years of Landscape Architecture in Ontario

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OALA Legacy Task Force

The OALA Legacy Task Force was created in 2017 to spotlight notable achievements of the OALA’s past 50 years with the membership, while commemorating and celebrating the 50th anniversary at the 2018 OALA AGM & Conference.



OALA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Logo

In July 2017, the Legacy Task Force shared a Logo Competition with the membership, to select a commemorative logo to be used for the OALA’s 50th Year in conjunction with the 2018 AGM & Conference.

The winning logo was submitted by Hillary Eppel, OALA Associate Member.






Past President Retrospectives

2018 will mark 50 years of landscape architecture in Ontario. To celebrate this golden anniversary the OALA has compiled retrospectives from Past Presidents that highlight our shared history as a profession. Click the links below to access the individual retrospectives. Retrospectives will be posted as they are shared in the OALA Newsletter.



Owen Scott

OALA President 1971-1973

In 1971, I was a relatively new faculty member in the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, four years out of graduate school, and the OALA was barely three years old.  Although the CSLA had been established some 37 years earlier, the OALA didn’t exist as an entity until 1968.  We were 77 members by 1971, an increase from the 43 members who founded the Association. The group consisted of some Canadians and a number of American and European landscape architects who had come to Ontario for the opportunities presented by this then fledgling profession, and stayed.  The future lay in the 21 Associate Members, almost all recent University of Guelph and University of Toronto graduates, many of whom were to lead the Association and the profession in years to come.  The Association had awarded honourary membership to 11 people, including my father Norman Scott, a horticulturist, who had been instrumental in assisting in the establishment of Canada’s first landscape architectural program at the University of Guelph and lobbying for a Landscape Architects Act in the 1970s.  The OALA had two Vice-Presidents to recognize the major geographic areas of practice, Toronto and Ottawa. Steve Moorhead was Toronto VP and Dieter Gruenwoldt was Ottawa VP.

1971 marked a major shift in the way that landscape architects were represented in Canada by their professional associations. The CSLA became the umbrella organization and the provincial associations became components of the CSLA. To facilitate the change, we rewrote the by-laws and those became the basic by-laws that continue to govern our organization today.

The November 30, 1972 Council meeting minutes recorded that I had met with Ontario Solicitor-General Dalton Bales to present a draft Landscape Architect Act and that his staff would be reviewing it in the near future. It wouldn’t be until 12 years later, in 1984, that Bill Pr37 was passed. To some of us, the recent efforts toward achieving a landscape architect practice act seem like a déjà vu of the work undertaken by the Association during those years.

1972 marked the first annual CSLA Congress, held in Vancouver. In 1973, the second annual Congress, sponsored by the OALA, was held in Kitchener with the late Bill Coates, OALA and me as co-chairs of the Congress Organizing Committee.

The future of our Association appears to be in good hands with solid leadership and a dedicated membership. From a small cadre of 43 professionals in 1968, we have grown, diversified, prospered, and become recognized for the good work we do. While the Association has never had a motto to my knowledge, the words of Jack Wright, longtime friend of the profession, “be humble and hustle” might be appropriate.  Through diplomacy and persistence we have come a long way from the struggles to become recognized in the early 1970s.

  • Owen R. Scott, OALA, FCSLA, CAHP


Ed Fife

OALA President 1987-1988

The 1987-88 Council was dominated by a continuation of the grandfathering process which came about due to the passing of the OALA title act, Bill Pr37 in 1984 and, in many ways, was a continuation of the previous year’s Council under President Rick Moore. The legislation required that all those who considered themselves to be doing landscape architectural work prior to the Act should be considered for admission into the Association. I think it is fair to say that more people applied than we expected and each monthly meeting was accompanied by stacks of applications to be perused and on which admission decisions had to be made.

The influx of applications came from young people new to the profession, existing practitioners who had not previously joined and members from allied professions. The great majority of these applications were excellent. It was clear that they had the skills and experience to be grandfathered and many of these people have become strong, creative members of the profession. There were also applications which demonstrated limited levels of understanding of the profession and lacked experience. The critical question was: Where should the line for acceptance be drawn and once drawn how it could be defended if legally challenged? Ultimately, a line was drawn and one which restricted but few. I feel confident that the line we drew respected the intent and spirit of the legislation. Upon reflection, I would suggest that our concerns for design quality became secondary to issues related to health and safety. We knew we did not have the right to restrict an individual’s ability to earn a living within the field where she or he had previously been earning their livelihood. We also withstood two formal legal challenges that required strong support from our solicitor George Miller. Through the title act, the association grew in size and strength to become the second largest landscape architectural association in North America.

In addition to the grandfathering process, we handled other significant initiatives, including the restructuring of the Council and an expansion of the activities provided by the Association.  Years had passed with little need for change but with the growth of the Association came the need for longer range planning, greater clarity and efficiency in its running and improvements in the area of member services. We tried to take stronger stands on public issues; increased publication materials both to members and in the public press.  We entered discussions to establishing reciprocity with the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), appointed our first Executive Director Dr. Arthur Timms, FCSAE, and initiated direct contact with students at each of the universities with President’s talks, pizza and beer. These sessions continue today.

As we divide our profession up into yearly achievements in the hope of understanding our history we must remember that we are a single, integrated entity. As in ecology we are growing, strengthening and correcting through time. We are now in our third or fourth generation of landscape architects working to build and preserve places which are thoughtful, creative, socially supportive and ecologically sound.  ​

  • Ed Fife, OALA, FCSLA