OALA at 50

50 Years of Landscape Architecture in Ontario

Click the links below to access:




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 Associate member, Hillary Eppel.


Video Interview Project

The Legacy Task Force conducted a series of interviews with Ontario landscape architects who have made unique or significant contributions to the Association’s legacy and history. Of these interviews, four were selected for video which premiered at the CSLA-OALA Conference Legacy Café session and are posted below:

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


Cecelia Paine

OALA President 1988-1989

Look what we have accomplished in 50 years!

Encouraged by passage of our title act of 1984 a few years before, in 1988 OALA and its members were buoyed by the potential opportunities arising from official recognition.  Today, landscape architects across Ontario are leaders in creating memorable places and contributing to the design of healthy, resilient communities.

The number of OALA members doubled during my years on OALA Council, resulting in an increase in our budget and the need to expand delivery of services to our 600+ members. The most lasting action of my presidency in 1988 was to hire our first professional executive director, Dr. Arthur Timms, FCSAE. Arthur brought many years of organizational experience to OALA. He was an excellent communicator and helped us become more efficient in our organizational processes, as well as establishing stronger bonds with CSLA and our sister professions. Arthur also increased our external visibility and influence, involving members in government policy reviews and keeping us abreast of legislative matters relevant to the profession. In total, Arthur brought a more visible professional stature to the OALA. His impact was significant and led to greater support of the OALA from its members.

As a private practitioner in Ottawa in the 1980s, I had the good fortune to have the National Capital Commission, the City of Ottawa and other government bodies as regular clients.  My firm was engaged in exciting projects of varying scales. The biggest challenge was being recognized by other professionals – notably architects and engineers. Based on what I read today in Ground and Landscape Paysages and from what I hear from former University of Guelph students, landscape architecture in Ontario has continued to grow in stature and influence. Equally important, our sister professions have expanded their awareness of our profession and many now work with landscape architects as partners and employees. It is obvious that landscape architects are in demand.

When the OALA was formed in 1968, there were only fledgling academic programs in Canada. Today in Ontario we have three accredited professional programs with approximately 120 graduates a year. Former students are in positions that range from being leaders in municipal departments to forming multi-disciplinary companies with international clientele. Some graduates have dedicated their skills and knowledge to serving not-for-profit organizations while others have tailored their knowledge to improving environmental quality through small-scale design. Nurtured by highly regarded educational programs and supported by the OALA’s Mandatory Continuing Education Program, the expertise of landscape architects continues to expand, placing many OALA members at the forefront of solving social and environmental problems.

As members of OALA, we can take pride in what we have achieved as individuals over the past five decades. We can also take pride in what we have accomplished together through the continuing dedication of our members and staff in advancing the status of the OALA.

  • Cecelia Paine, OALA, FCSLA



Robert Norman

OALA President 1991-1992

My focus for my term as OALA President included leading the OALA through an analysis and exercise to strategically evaluate all of the OALA’s programs, goals and objectives, with respect to our mandate.  Through this analysis and determination of our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats and gaps, we determined our challenges at that time stemmed primarily from two areas: budget restrictions and promotion of the profession.

From this analysis, as President, I concentrated on the challenges related to the promotion of the profession.  Collectively, OALA Council undertook the engagement of a public relations firm to help create a promotional plan for the OALA.

This strategic planning for the promotion of the profession in Ontario led to the creation of a marketing committee within the OALA.   I continued my work with the Marketing Committee, which led to the development of an advertisement promoting the OALA and the profession.  This advertisement would be targeted to potential employers of landscape architects’ services.  The one page advertisement for publications was created with the help of ADCOM Advertising and Design.  The OALA advertisement page was entitled, “Breaking New Ground”, and was placed in the spring 2000, Ontario Home Builder publication, read by developers and home builders.  The colour advertisement contained three photographs of landscape architects’ award winning projects, illustrating a cross-section of our profession’s work.   The text of the advertisement further explained the profession and the scope of the landscape architect’s expertise in planning and design.  The footer of the advertisement provided contact information for a list of Landscape Architects in Ontario from the OALA office.

In my role as Past-President of the OALA, I represented the OALA on the CSLA Board of Governors at that time.   With the assistance of, Sadler Public Relations and Communications, we produced promotional and public relations templates, such as a template for Press Releases.  These templates provided promotional resource tools, which could be used by the CSLA, as well as its component organizations.  In this role representing the OALA, I also produced some of the CSLA’s first policy papers.

  • Rob Norman, OALA, FCSLA



Sarah Culp

OALA President 2014-2016

I am pleased to acknowledge the significant accomplishments of the OALA over the past 50 years and to state – unequivocally – how proud I am to be a member the Association.  Our Association continually grows and adjusts as opportunities and challenges emerge. As a recent President reflecting on my terms on Council, some particular achievements come to mind. These highlights bear witness to a renewal of spirit among practicing Ontario landscape architects and the vibrancy and energy inherent in new professionals, and also reflect our expanding profile among the public, other professions and government.

Early in my tenure on Council, I and fellow Associate Representative, Sandra Cooke, felt that a gap existed between students of Landscape Architecture programs and Associate and Full Members. The forming, then, of a Social Committee which continues to function, effectively integrates members of all categories in fun and inclusive ways, hosting networking programs and events throughout the province.

The OALA also undertook a re-branding initiative in 2015. The Marketing Committee, chaired by Luke Jefferson and project managed by Graham Taylor, launched a renewed visual identity standard and accompanying Style Guide. OALA’s refreshed brand provides a modern image for our forward looking profession while being rooted in our shared heritage.

The Fees & Services Guide Task Force, chaired by Lawrence Stasiuk, was established with a mandate to generate the Engaging a Landscape Architect guides series.  The 2016 guides demonstrate value to our members and serve to assist Ontario landscape architects and their clients to achieve a new level of exposure, awareness and understanding of the profession in Ontario.

The largest OALA AGM & Conference took place in Guelph in 2015 recognizing the landmark of half a century of Landscape Architecture education at the University of Guelph.  The Association maintains strong ties to the accredited programs of Landscape Architecture at Guelph, as well as at the University of Toronto.   For many of our colleagues, the Guelph AGM & Conference was a “homecoming” and the registration numbers signaled a renewed enthusiasm among the membership.  Also, in 2015, the OALA surpassed 1,700 across all membership categories and we continue to be the largest component of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA).

It’s an honour to have worked with members of Councils, Committees and Association staff, advancing the interests of the OALA. I’m thankful for the opportunities to be involved in the Association and to those I have met and volunteered with, many of whom I admire for their leadership, passion and dedication to the organization.

The OALA continues advancing the profession, promoting our core values and improving professional standards and practice, as it has for fifty years.  We landscape architects are key players in Ontario’s growth and our profession is integral to the landscapes that protect vital and resilient natural environments and sustain healthy communities.  Today, with the on-going pursuit of enhanced legislation, the OALA is making significant strides to ensure that landscape architects continue to influence and effect change and to improve communities across Ontario and beyond.

  • Sarah Culp, OALA, CSLA