Town and Crown, an Illustrated History (2015) by David L.A. Gordon

Town and Crown (2015) is an illustrated history of the planning and development of Canada’s capital city and fills a significant gap in our urban scholarship. It is the transformational story of a sub-arctic wilderness portage to an attractive, modern, high quality living metropolis. The book examines the nation’s capital between 1800 and 2011, the first major study to cover both sides of the Ottawa River, addressing the settlement history of Indigenous, French, and English peoples.

Ottawa’s transportation was a significant Canadian achievement of the new profession of urban planning in the mid-20th century. Our national capital has the county’s most complete history of community planning and served as a gateway for important international planning ideas and designers.

Town and Crown illustrates the influence of landscape architect and Olmsted protégé Frederick Todd; Chicago’s City Beautiful architect Edward Bennett; and British planner Thomas Adams. Prime Minister Mackenzie King maintained a direct interest in planning Canada’s capital for almost fifty years, choosing France’s leading urbaniste, Jacques Gréber, to plan the post-1945 redevelopment of the region.

The principal research method for Town and Crown includes over sixteen years of archival studies in North America, Australia and Europe, and interviews with key politicians, designers and planners that supplemented the contemporary research. The narrative is augmented by over 200 images drawn from early sketches, historical maps, plans and archival photography to illustrate the physical transformation of Canada’s federal capital.

Review by Karl Friedhelm Fischer (2019): Town and crown: an illustrated history of Canada’s capital.: EBSCOhost (

About the Author

Portrait of Dr. Gordon
 Dr. David L.A. Gordon

David Gordon, FCIP, RPP AICP P.Eng, is a Professor and Internship Co-Coordinator in the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) in the Department of Geography and Planning at Queen’s University. He was the Director of SURP from 2008 to 2018. Prior to returning to Queen’s, he practised in the public and private sector for 15 years. David is a founding Director of the Council for Canadian Urbanism, a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Planners and has shared their National Award of Distinction four times.

His books on planning history and urban redevelopment include Town and Crown: An Illustrated History of Canada’s CapitalPlanning Twentieth Century Capital Cities; and Battery Park City: Politics and Planning on the New York Waterfront. David has taught community planning at other universities including McGill, Ryerson, Toronto, Latvia, Western Australia, Harvard, MIT and Pennsylvania, where he was a Fulbright Senior Scholar. He holds a DDes from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, M.Pl. and BSc from Queen’s University.