Town Planning in General Ottawa in Particular
Speech delivered on June 20, 1918. Source: National Archives of Canada, MG 30 C105 Vol.1
Town planning is possibly best generalised as the adjustment or control of the “use and development of land”.
The fundamental aim of this science and art is to improve the living conditions of mankind, to abolish slums – whether of overcrowding in city or of [end of page 1] isolation in country – to enable the progressive evolution of civilization towards higher and enabling standards of life, physical, mental, and moral.
Some of you may think this is Socialism? Well, it is – of a kind – within the broad generalization of restricting private ownership in property – human and material.
It is the finest and the sanest of constructive Socialism – a kind which need not be feared, and which is coming – the kind which H. G. Wells would describe as arising from the “common sanity of mankind”. [end of page 2]
The World has been progressing in sociology, a bit halting and irregularly perhaps, yet progressing since the days of Charlemagne, who emancipated women from the status of a chattel (VIII century).
Professor Holborne Stoughton says:
“Man must have an environment, and there must be a relationship to this environment, and it must to a great extent enter into this concept of morality”.
In this light, town planning has become an important intellectual and scientific movement, fostering [end of page 3] moral evolution; and it is a great moral movement.
Basing our synthetic analysis on this natural principle that the Rays of the Sun are the ultimate source of all energy on this planet, there devolves the function of land and its duty to the State, – production, maintenance of life – the first law of nature.
Town planning is fundamentally a question of Ethics – the Ethics of shelter, practically a problem in Economics; aesthetically the art of expressing its functions with truthfulness and dignity. [end of page 4]
Ruskin crystallized economic truth sublimely when he wrote, “There is no wealth but Life”.
It is, therefore, to the maintenance and enhancement, and to the regeneration in higher forms of mind and of matter, those inseparable co-ordinated agencies of nature, that the race must look for its survival.
Town planners believe that land should not be built over to an extent excluding sunlight and air [end of page 5] from the buildings.
Life cannot thrive without sunlight and air – its exclusion, the lack of nourishment, entails the degeneration by slow starvation.
It devolves, therefore, from the nature of things that the width of streets and the proportion of buildings affect the birth rate, the death rate, and so render sad or cheerful and effective “allotted span”.
Wide, expensive streets in working home quarters incur such maintenance charges as entail high rents, high buildings – tenements – lacking in sunlight and air, in the properties of life. [end of page 6]
“The record of the Roman Empire, and of many lesser ones to date, reverting to barbarism, is ample lesson on the effects of “Commercial Cannibalism”, of economics that were incomplete and failed by lack of ethics”.
Town planning, in short, so understood, concedes to man as complete economics, the rightful opportunity to develop his soul as well as his body. [end of page 7]
OTTAWA IN PARTICULAR
National responsibility towards Ottawa entails making it irreproachably wholesome and ideally beautiful – in all respects a Capital of great inspirational value to the nation.
To this end many suggestions eventuated in a Commission and a plan.
Views of some suggestions and of the plan will be shown on the screens, elucidated by criticism, which I trust will be taken as constructive. [end of page 8]
As outlined, elemental considerations in planning range through life from birth to death, in ethics, economics, and art; architecture being perhaps the most tangible and popular manifestation of our insight into the problem of life.
Victor Hugo said, “Architecture is the great handwriting of the Race”.
By it students of architecture and archaeology, of history and economics, read the past as an open book wherein can be detected the mentality, the motives, and achievements of antiquity. [end of page 9]
Art is the simple and refined outward expression of inherent truth.
Commercialized art is to aesthetics as Commercialized vice is to ethics – a defilement.
Let us hope posterity will view us with kindly forbearing. [end of page 10]
LIST OF SLIDES USED IN THE LECTURE
Eastern Coal Situation: necessity for developing natural resources
[Item part of: Canada. Dept. of National Defense collection, Head Office Nova Scotia Steel & Coal Co. Limited, New Glasgow, N.S.]
a. Atlantic Storm
b. “Don de Dieu”
c. Plan of First Settlement, 1641
View of Dieppe
a. Views of Old Parliament Hill
b. Library after fire
c. Reference to light wells and new layout
Early Architecture – “Topees”
Wellington Street, White and Webb Scheme, 1913
Unrelated to street system; doesn’t harmonize architecturally. Tower on four legs, 50 X 450 ft. Pillared Porticoes- nil light.
Palais de Justice, focal point, street end
a. Comparative view (Parliament Hill buildings)
Webb plan and existing buildings do not harmonize
River should be plane of composition.
b. Mont St. Michel
9. Illustrations (good composition)
a. Durham Cathedral
b. Carcasonne-towers “flanking”
c. Tibet—Potala, 1641-1701
a. Map “Federal District”
b. Map, 1912, “King’s Way”
c. Map, 1913, Triway Bridge to Hull
d. Railways and Boulevards
e. Severance by G.T.R. and by C.P.R.
f. Aeroplane and view of Ottawa
Champs Elysees vs. Lyon Street (Ottawa)
a. Mr. Cauchon’s Park System
b. Topography of vicinity
c. Rock outcrop
d. Topography of city
e. Aeroplane view, Chaudiere
f. Diagram – Traffic Study and Nepean Bay as park
13. Ottawa Commission Plan
a. Freight yards, Sandy Hill
b. Bridge St., Hull
c. Elimination of G.T.R. tracks
d. Relocation of C.P.R. tracks
14. New York
Dispositions for more light
Public building, lacking light
C.P.R. Hotel – good lighting
18. Ottawa Commission Plaza
a. Triangular light wells
b. Heavy traffic to Wellington St.
19. Shadow Diagrams
a. Orientation for sunlight
b. Avoidance of light wells
c. New Government Office Building
Emergency Temporary buildings
21. Ottawa Commission Plan
a. Comparative profiles
b. Charm of old buildings
c. Central diagonal-futile
d. Chateau extension
e. Arch bridge on curve
f. Depressing canal
a. Forum Civic Centre
b. Traffic features
23. Ottawa Commission Plan
a. Street System
b. Macoun Park
24. French Chateau, architectural transitions
a. Chateau Laurier
b. de Usse
c. de Pierrefonds
d. de Chenonceaux
a. Rapid transit in canal bed
b. Connaught Place
[ex. National Archives of Canada, PA-057454, PA-057458, PA-057587]
d. Canal to St. Lawrence
e. Rideau Irrigation scheme
f. Grand River Irrigation
g. Canals or boulevards
h. C.P.R. irrigation ditch in West
i. Irrigating land
a. Nile irrigation
b. The Wise Man of the East
[ex. “Ben Hur” – NAC Ben Hur Chariot Team Horses, National Archives of Canada, PA-060182]