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Architecture Landscape

Landscape Architecture in Canada

by (author) Ron Williams

McGill-Queen's University Press
Initial publish date
May 2014
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2014
    List Price

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The largest and most pervasive of human artifacts, landscapes are both cultural expressions and environments that shape our actions. Playgrounds, cemeteries, memorials, historic sites, public squares, gardens, industrial rehabilitation sites, wild national parks, and manicured urban parks provide the settings for work, recreation, commerce, memorialization, and mourning and shape the experience and meaning of these activities in Canada. In the first critical history of designed landscapes in our country, Ron Williams approaches landscape architecture as a social art that creates places for people to use and as an environmental art through which practitioners act as stewards of the natural world. Landscape Architecture in Canada provides a detailed panorama of the man-made landscapes that vary as widely as the country's geography. The book profiles the projects and people that defined landscape architecture, illuminating the motivations and aspirations that drove landscape architects and explaining the intellectual climate in which they worked. Williams casts a wide net and examines the varied traditions and impacts of Canada’s first peoples, its early colonists, later immigrant communities, the remarkable landscape innovations of nineteenth-century industrial cities as well as agricultural landscapes and the protected natural environments of national parks. He also shows how stimulating new ideas from recent decades have expanded landscape architecture and opened the door to projects that embody a distinctive Canadian approach, reflecting the social and natural diversity of contemporary society and its responses to rapid change. Thoroughly researched, practically oriented, and grounded in the country's many regions, Landscape Architecture in Canada is a richly illustrated and affecting narrative of the ways in which we have shaped our environment and an inimitable lens through which to view the story of Canada.

About the author

Ron Williams, a longtime professor and former director of the School of Landscape Architecture at the Université de Montréal, is a practising architect and landscape architect.

Ron Williams' profile page

Editorial Reviews

“An interdisciplinary masterpiece overflowing with informative diagrams, maps, and most importantly, original photographs enthusiastically rendered by the author during visits to every corner of the country. Natural and human diversity have left their las

“This is an essential volume for those with even a modest interest in Canada’s collective and varied landscape history… [Ron Williams] has painstakingly—and lovingly—produced a well- researched, comprehensive history of landscape architecture in Canada.”

“The author takes us on an amazing journey from pre-colonial times to the present, through Canada's rural and urban landscapes from coast to coast to coast… this well-written and abundantly illustrated publication … at times reads almost like a novel.” -

“A major accomplishment, Williams has successfully achieved a regional balance in bringing forth thematic and elemental examples, proof that ‘going to the ground’ remains all-important for researchers and students of Canadian landscape architecture.” - BC

“Beautifully written and organized, Landscape Architecture in Canada makes a major contribution to landscape architecture and its related fields - architecture, planning, geography, art history, environmental history, and environmental studies. A first of its kind, this book is a must for all Canadian landscape architects and their students.” Susan Herrington, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia

“To read Ron Williams's new book Landscape Architecture in Canada is a delight, as well as being enlightening on both the design profession and North American history… his narrative … [provides] a strong spine for multiple stories of making, changing, ima