Ottawa had no Garden Cities, but Thomas Adams’ 1919 design for Lindenlea is a fine example of a Garden Suburb. The 9 hectare (22 acre) site was a demonstration project for the federal government’s first affordable housing programme, providing modest homes in an attractive setting, with a community hall, small parks system, a wading pool, tennis court and playground.
Adams re-planned the area, replacing the grip proposed by the Ottawa Housing Corporation for the steep and rocky site between Beachwood Avenue and Rockcliffe Park. Unfortunately, the overall effect was initially marred by construction of identical houses in almost ever lot, but these have been much-modified over the years.
Site Plan of Lindenlea
Report: Planning and Development of the Lindenlea Estate, Ottawa
Source: City of Ottawa Archives, Ref no. RGI-3, File#1, Correspondence-Thomas Adams (1919-1920)
Ottawa, July 25, 1919
[page 1]To the Chairman and Members of the Ottawa Housing Commission.
I have to congratulate the Commission on the fact that they have acquired an estate so well adapted for a housing project as Lindenlea property, at a reasonable price.
The estate as regards natural features and proximity to conveniences of the city is probably the best that could have been purchased within the city boundaries. It will be somewhat expensive to develop in view of the presence of rock over a considerable part of the estate, and owing to the varied contours of the land, but by proper planning this expense will be reduced to the minimums.
In preparing the plan of development, I have endeavoured to avoid putting the Commission and [end of page 1] [page 2]the City to unnecessary expense for grading streets and cutting into rock, to utilize the land which is unsuitable for building on as pars of the street or areas or park area of the scheme. By doing this, the maximum area of good land can be included in the lots, and no expensive lots to develop. I have also given full regard to the need for pleasant surroundings to the homes and for provision for social life and recreation.
Area and Description of Property
I attach a map marked “A”, showing the area and boundaries of the estate and adjacent properties, and also the scheme of subdivision registered at the time of purchase.
The property comprises the square area having the following approximate dimensions on its four sides –
N. 980 F S. 990 F E. 975 F W. 925. F
The reputed area is 22.256 acres. The subsoil comprised clay and gravel, but shallow rock underlies a considerable part of the area. The site may [end of page 2][page 3]be easily drained and is exceptionally healthy in character and situation. There is much fine timber suitably located to enable it to be preserved for shade and beauty. The prospects of the surrounding country are especially fine. The undulations of the land afford scope for interesting and varied treatment of the lots as sites for buildings.
On the south side the estate is bounded by Rideau Terrace; on the west by Springfield Road; on the north by Maple Lane, and on the east by Lambton Road. Rideau Terrace is part of an important highway which extends from the Rockcliffe Driveway, near Government House, to the same Driveway at Victoria Cottage, near the Cloverdale Road terminus. It includes Acacia Road, Butternut Road, and Rideau Terrace, and is an irregular half circle following a ridge of land and a natural contour for a greater part of its length. Being an old highway, it has not been controlled as to its width and having regard to its present and future importance it is too narrow, being only forty feet in width.
On the other hand, it has the merit of following the contour lines, and has a better [end of page 3][page 4]position and alignment than most of the streets that have been artificially laid out. If it were widened to sixty feet, as it should be, this widening should be made by taking ten feet off the proportion on each side of the existing highway. With a view to the ultimate widening on the one side. This ten feet should be acquired by the city, and should be offered to them at 15 cents per square feet, which is value according to the price paid by you for the whole estate.
Springfield Road is also an existing highway which is designed to extend from Beechwood Road right through to Coltrin Road on the north, but at present stops at Mariposa Avenue. Springfield Road also is too narrow adjoining the property. It is desirable that this road should be widened to at least 60 feet, 10 feet being added from properties on both sides. It is proposed to ask the city to widen the road for 10 feet on the part of it which abuts on the Lindenlea property, and to [end of page 4][page 5]offer this land to the City Council at the low rate of 15 cents per square foot. If the City Council does not accept the offer to give the ten feel at 15 cents per square foot, they may ultimately have to pay twice this figure or over to acquire the land.
Maple Lane and Lambton Road should be opened up as soon as development is begun on the property as they will afford access to a considerable number of desirable lots.
Map “A” shows the streets which were proposed to be made under the original scheme of developing the property. This shows three parallel streets running from north to south between Springfield Road and Lambton Road and one cross-street (Montrose Avenue) parallel with Maple Lane.
The number of lots comprised in the proposed subdivision was l18, but most of them were of larger area than those now proposed. In view of the character of the buildings to be erected at the limit which is placed on the cost of the site for any one building, and also in [end of page 5][page 5a]view of the need to avoid extravagance in the form of long vacant frontages on paved and sewered streets, it is necessary to avoid making the lots too large.
The three north and south streets shown on the original plan would have served no purpose of through traffic that is not already served by Springfield Road and Butternut Terrace and as ordinary streets for domestic traffic would have involved a great waste of land. None of these streets would have helped to improve the traffic facilities of the district. What is needed for that purpose are diagonal roads across the property. One of the original streets would have passed across a piece of land with a steep escarpment involving a natural grade of 36 per cent and requiring about 2,000 cubic yards of rock excavations to have made it a practical grade of 5 per cent. The result of making this change in grade would have made very bad for building purposes.
It would have been better if the area could have been planned without being hampered by the existing registered streets of Maple Lane and Lambton Road. As however, a number of lots have been laid out, and some have been sold subject to these streets being placed as shown on the map, it has been [end of page 5a][page 6]thought unwise to suggest any alteration in their position because of the delay which would have resulted.
In considering the layout of this estate I have been compelled to have regard to some of the factors relating to the development and briefly draw attention to a few matters that need to be considered in connection with that planning of this portion of the city and of the part of the country which is comprised in the Police Village of Rockcliffe.
Extension and Improvement of Street Car Services
There is no immediate necessity for extending the street car service for the convenience of those who will reside on the Lindenlea property, although to some people it may be an objection that the property is situated eight to ten minutes walk from the nearest street car lines. It is obvious, however, that some extension of the street car lines will have to be made in the near future in the eastern part of the city and it is most desirable that this extension should be made in the direction of Rockcliffe, passing near to Beechwood Cemetery, for the convenience of the residents of the whole of the city. With the building of the new bridge at the end of St. Patrick Street an opportunity will arise for consider- [end of page 6][page 7]ing the proper lines for such an extension. Perhaps owing to the building up of this new suburb the citizens will begin to realize the great charm of the Rideau River on both sides of St. Patrick’s bridge and the misfortune to the city that more care is not taken in preserving the amenities on both banks of the river. Near this point the river is divided into two by Porter’s Island and takes the form of a lake admirably adapted for boating and bathing. The time must come when the island will be converted for some purpose more generally attractive than that of being a site for an Isolation Hospital and lumber pile, and when some park areas will be developed under the Improvement Commission along the western bank of the river. By this means an approach to the eastern part of the city and to Rockcliffe can be made in some respect even more attractive than the approach by Sussex Street, and a comparatively neglected portion of the city will receive its due share of attention.
When the car passes over St. Patrick’s bridge it takes a sudden deflection to the north and goes through New Edithburgh to the line of Rockcliffe cars. It is well known that the St. Patrick cars are always crowded in rush hours from the time they leave the city until they reach St. Patrick’s bridge, but that they thin out [end of page 7][page 8]considerably beyond that point. It might, therefore, be a proper suggestion to make to the Street Car Company and to the city, that there could be two alternative routes provided from the eastern side of St. Patrick’s bridge so as to split up the service at that point into two and thereby justify having additional cars running over the part of the route nearest to the centre of the city. For this purpose I think it would be desirable for a route to be provided along the valley which lies at the feet of the hill which is skirted by Rideau Terrace adjoining the Lindenlea property. It will be much cheaper to make a new broad highway for this purpose than to widen the existing Beechwood Road and I have indicated on plan “B’ the direction which should be taken for such a highway. I believe that land could be acquired and the highway constructed at a comparatively small cost and with enormous advantage to the city. If this were done the residents on Lindenlea and other adjacent properties would have access within a very few minutes of the new street car service, when the estate is completely developed it will have a population of 840, which will provide a considerable addition to the street car traffic on the eastern side of the city. This extension could either terminate at point X on the plan or link up [end of page 8][page 9]in a circular route with the Rockcliffe service as may be found most expedient.
Until this service is provided, or some alternative, the most accessible routes for the residents in Lindenlea to take would be existing service by St. Patrick’s Bridge. This is distant 917 yards from the centre of Lindenlea.
The other route would be by Rockcliffe which is distant 1817 yards from the centre of the property, and is, therefore, a few minutes more walk by more attractive approach. This route is also somewhat nearer to the northern entrance to the estate than the St. Patricks route. The layout of the estate has been designed to facilitate access to the Rockcliffe car route which is the best means of traveling to the city. The lots on the extreme eastern side of Lindenlea would be distant 1,000 yards from the Cloverdale Road terminus of the Rockcliffe car service which is also a very interesting approach to the most attractive car ride in and near the city.
In preparing the plan of the Lindenlea property regard has been paid to the shortening of the distance from the centre of the property to the street car lines. [end of page 9]
Plan of Estate
The main feature of the street plan of the estate is the diagonal route from Rideau Terrace to Springfield Road, running in a north-westerly direction. Had the Commission been in possession of a little more land on the eastern side of the estate some improvement might have been obtained in the line of approach from Rideau Terrace and a slightly more direct approach to the centre of the property would have been procured. By widening Rideau Terrace, and by entering the new diagonal road called Rockcliffe Way at the same place on Rideau Terrace as Lambton Road, the sudden change in the direction of route is counteracted by making the approach about 76 feet wide. Rockcliffe Way is 66 feet wide the whole of its length. It rises very gradually to nearly the highest point on the estate, has a natural grade of 6 percent and may be designed to fall at an easy grade of 4 per cent to the lower land going on for the greater part of its length on the level.
At a point on this diagonal road a junction is formed with a short connecting road to Rideau Terrace, called “Ottawa Way.” At this junction a view is obtained of the whole of the Parliament Buildings. It happens that on the west side of this short connecting road there is a [end of page 10][page 11]site admirably adapted for tennis courts and bowling green and it has been recovered on the plan for that purpose.
On the upper and northerly side of the diagonal road at the same point, a small park area on the side of the hill is proposed to be reserved, and also a site for a building to be used as an Institute and Library or Family Club erected on the highest point on the estate. From this building the view of the Parliament Buildings on the south and a fine open view to the north-west will be permanently preserved.
On the south-west of Rockcliffe Way there is a piece of land covered with good trees and partly occupied by a pool of water which is proposed to be retained as a children’s playground with a wading pool.
All the proposed three small open spaces on the estate, each reserved for a different purpose, are connected together to form one small park system. They are also intersected by Rockcliffe Way, which is the main road running through the property. Thus the main artery will be an attractive driveway, fringed with open spaces and trees. A considerable part of the land included in these spaces is not useful for building, either because it is too steep and rocky, or because it [end of page 11][page 12]is swampy in character.
At the northbound end of Rockcliffe Way a small square is shown. It is necessary to provide space at this point for the circulation of traffic as there are five streets converging upon it. With suitable treatment of the buildings facing this square it can be made an attractive feature in the approach to the estate from Rockcliffe.
The open spaces on the plan also include a triangular area forming an island in the centre of Rock. Avenue. The most part of this area is covered with an out-crop of rock. The cost of excavating this rock for building purposes would be excessive. By splitting the street in the way shown on the map it is possible to make provision for traffic, and to provide frontages for lots situated on good level land. Although not suitable for building, the rock is adaptable for a very interesting open space and should be specially treated as a landscape feature in the scheme. [end of page 12]
Summary of Open Spaces
The open spaces comprise the following:
(1) Tennis Courts and Bowling Greens ………………………………. 34, 580 sq. ft
(2) Park adjacent to proposed Library and Institute……….….. 19, 400 sq. ft
(3) Children’s play-grounds including
boulevard area between Springfield
Road and Rockcliffe Way (and wading pool)…………….….. 43, 700 sq. ft
(4) Small crescent area off Maple Lane ..…………..……..……. 3, 260 sq. ft
(5) Triangular area on Rock Avenue……………………………. 9, 880 sq. ft
(6) Small crescent off Rockcliffe Way………….……………….. 2, 994 sq. ft
(7) Open Space at entrance to estate………………………..….. 4, 920 sq. ft
118, 734 sq. ft
These open spaces have largely been arranged on the principle of using up land that is least suitable for building, some of which it would have been almost as costly to convert into building land as the land would be worth when converted. The site of the tennis courts and bowling green are good building land, but obviously a good level site is needed for recreation purposes. The cost of this site as well as other open space, is merged in the price of the lots.
In considering that the lots are fairly small in size, regard should be paid to the fact that about one- [end of page 13][page 14]eighth of the area is recovered for open spaces. It would not have been possible to have reserved land to this extent for recreation purposes has the streets been made in rectangular form and of the regular width of 66 feet. The design has been prepared in such a way as to comply with the provincial by-laws, but it is so arranged that a good part of the width in the secondary or least important reads will really form parts of the open spaces and not be wasted in unnecessary street area.
A street called Lindenlea runs from east to west along the foot of the ridge which traverses the estate. A diagonal street from the northeast to the southeast corner might have been of some advantage, but it would be undesirable to create two main traffic roads across the estate, introducing cross traffic which might become a danger to the residents.
If at any future time it is found desirable to widen the part of Lindenlea, which is less than 50 feet wide, there will be ample opportunity for doing so by encroaching upon the adjacent open spaces. In the registration plan of the area, Lindenlea is shown as 66 feet in width throughout, and a good part of its [end of page 14][page 15]length should be made as much as seventy or eighty feet if necessary.
In considering the absence of a diagonal road from the northeast direction, it should be remembered that Rideau Terrace is an old highway forming an easy grade and that any slight shortening of the distance which might be secured by diverting the traffic through the Lindenleas estate would have to be set against the facts that it would destroy some of the best building land at the southwest corner, that the grade would not be quite as good as Rideau Terrace, and that the inhabitants of the Lindenlea property would have to bear the cost of maintaining another main traffic road.
Rock Avenue at the top next to Lindenlea is 50 feet in width and at the bottom is 92 feet, but owing to the rocky central space this road really consists of two twenty-one foot roads with an open space in the centre of the fork which they form. It is proposed that these roads should consist of 16 feet of macadam pavement, with no sidewalk on the side next to the open space, and that they should have a sidewalk four or five feet wide next to the building lots. It is unnecessary in such roads to have provision for more than two streams of traffic, one standing and one moving, on both pavements. It is also unnecessary [end of page 15][page 16]to have any boulevard strip on the side next to the building lots, because all the natural furnishing needed by the street is provided by the central open space.
Lindenlea from the point where it leaves Montrose Avenue is 50 feet wide until the point where it deflects into three branches, two of which form Rock Avenue and one the continuation of Lindenlea. The continuation of Lindenlea is thirty feet wide, which should also have sixteen feet of macadam pavement, and one sidewalk.
There are three other narrow roads which require explanation. These are: –
(1) Park Drive, which to the north of Lindenlea can be widened at any future time to 56 feet. At present this portion of Park Drive is supposed to be twenty-one feet wide as in the case of other narrow streets. The upper portion of Park Drive to the south of Lindenlea is a private carriage drive 138 feet long leading to a small square on which the buildings will front, and where ample provision is made for the circulation of traffic. This will be a small private road used only for the purpose of leading to the houses erected upon its frontage
(a) Hillcrest is a narrow road twenty feet wide and 230 feet long, which forms an approach to three houses, and will only be used for the traffic leading to these three [end of page 16][page 17]houses, to the rear of the Institute. In this case no sidewalk is necessary, as it is really a carriage driveway forming a combined purpose of a driveway and a sidewalk leading to three houses only.
The crescent off Maple Lane is about eighty feet wide, but for traffic purposes consists of a driveway sixteen feet wide to permit of the passing of two vehicles with a sidewalk four feet wide next to the building lots. The total street area as at present designed for all purposes that will be necessary for the development of the estate is approximately 4.96 acres. In the original design for the development of the property, the area comprised in streets was 6.26 acres. In the plan now submitted the area included in the open spaces as summarized above, has been shown to be 118,734 sq. feet (2.73 acres). No provision was made in the original subdivision for open spaces. As against the 5.25 acres of the street space in the original plan there are therefore 7.69 acres of streets and open spaces on the plan now submitted. [end of page 17][page 18]One point that may be noted in comparing the original subdivision with that shown on the plan submitted with this report is the greater amount of frontage which is obtained in the latter without adding to the length of the streets. On the original plan very deep lots were shown fronting on Rideau Terrace. These lots has an average depth of 273 feet, and one side abutted on side streets. The whole of this side frontage was valueless, if not injurious, to the lot yet it represented and additional cost per lot of $2047.50 (at $ 7.50 a foot) for local improvements. On the plan submitted to you there are a number of corner lots but few of them have more frontage than can be appropriately used in the situation in which they are designed. Where practicable it will be desirable that these corner lots be occupied by pairs of houses instead of single dwellings and that they should be arranged obliquely between the two right-angular streets instead of having a straight frontage on either street.
Administration of Open Spaces and Proposed Institute
The question will arise as to how sites reserved for open spaces etc., will be financed and administered. As already stated the cost of these spaces has been merged in the price of the lots and therefore, [end of page 18][page 19]the residents on the estate are entitled to their full use. There only arises the question of responsibility for maintenance.
The ownership of the sites on all the open spaces might be vested in the city and dedicated to the use of the residents; or the Housing Commission might continue to act as trustees for the residents, pending the creation of a permanent trust or the transference of the open spaces to the city. The objection to transferring those areas to the city would be that it might be difficult to get the City Council to maintain the open spaces exclusively of the benefit of residents on the estate. On the other hand the residents would have a right to complain if the open spaces were made accessible to a large body of non-residents who had not contributed to the cost of the spaces; although the former would probably not wish to absolutely limit their use to themselves. On the other hand the Commission, which being the best body to take charge of the spaces, may not be able to get from the City Council exemption from taxation and unless they did so it would be a disadvantage for them to hold the land instead of the city. I would suggest, therefore, that the Mayor and Controllers should be approached to find out what would be the best arrange-[end of page 19][page 20]ments to make in the interests of the city, having due regard to the rights of the owners and the desirability of exception from taxation of the spaces in question.
Having settled those matters consideration might be given to the following suggestions:-
1. Tennis Courts and Bowling Green – The money which requires to be invested in leveling and planting the courts and green should be spent by the Housing Commission as part of the cost of developing the estate. A small Club House should be erected. Either the Commission or the City Council should then lease the Courts or Bowling Green to clubs of residents at a rental equivalent to the interest and sinking fund necessary to pay off the capital expenditure. These clubs should undertake to maintain the courts and green in good order.
An alternative would be to hand over the property on a lease to a club on condition that they under took the capital expenditure themselves, in which came a very nominal rent would involved the payment of taxes, the assessment should be based on the value of the land for recreation purposes and not on its building value.
I advise that the best course is for the Commission to lay out the courts and green before leasing [end of page 20][page 21] the area.
2. Small Public Park– This should be laid out with shrubs and walks and maintained so a small park area by the city or Improvement Comission and for that purposes should be handed over to one of those bodies on condition that they will maintain it.
3. Children’s Playground – Either a special Association of the residents should be formed to control the children’s playground by a Committee or else the Ottawa Playground Association should be invited to take over the management of the playground under some special arrangement.
Sites Reserved for Public Buildings
Two sites are suggested for public buildings; one for an Institute or Library or combination of both, on what is practically the highest elevation on the property. It is suggested that when the whole area is built upon the residents will desire to have a place of meeting for social and educational purposed. When the houses are all erected it may be time enough to consider by what means the capital is to be obtained to erect the Institute but for the moment the only important thing is to reserve the site in the right place so as to provide facilities for the erection of such an Institute if and when it is decided to build it. There [end of page 21][page 22]is no question that in course of time when the city is extended in an easterly direction that a branch library will be desirable in this neighbourhood. Some arrangement might be made to start a small library in the near future.
Near the site of the Institute provision is made for a special site in a low position screened by trees for a public garage. The public garage fulfills the same function as the tennis green in that it will help to make up for the comparatively small sizes of the lots. A tennis court or a garage are costly things to provide for each separate home. They may become comparatively cheap things if provided for a number of families in common. If properly situated they may be as convenient and useful as if privately owned, and if properly laid out and designed can be made ornamental instead of destructive of amenity. If any owner wished to erect his own garage he should not be prevented from doing so, subject to the submission of his plan to the Commission and to the suitability of his lots for the purpose. On the other hand some arrangement should be made to have a small garage for general use, established on the site indicated for the purpose, as soon as it was needed by residents, and portions of it rented out. It will be noticed that roads radiate in every direction from the proposed site [end of page 22][page 23] and that a court is left open in front of the proposed building.
No site is reserved for a school. Although it is well-known that Rockcliffe is peculiarly deficient in the matter of public school accommodation it is not considered that this site is the best one for the purpose. It may be desirable, however, for the Commission to approach the authorities in the city and the county with a view to have a school erected in the district under the joint management of the city and county for the benefit of residents on both sides of the city boundary.
Construction of Local Improvements
It will be necessary for the City Council and the Commission to co-operate in regard to the construction of local improvements. Some macadam roadways, sewers and water mains will have to be provided in advance of building operations. As will be seen from the accompanying map “C” the position at present is that Rideau Terrace is the only street fronting on the property which has pavement, sewer, watermain, gas main and electric wiring. Springfield Road has a rough pavement but no sewer or watermain. The sewer, water and gas mains extend up Rideau Terrace to along Butternut Terrace to the boundary [page 23 ends] [page 24]of the city. In regard to the extension of existing facilities, it is desirable that the expenditure of the city should be kept down to the minimum during the present summer consistent with giving facilities for every house that is erected this year. Having regard to the number of applicants for the sites there should be no difficulty in completing the whole of the local improvements on the property next summer, and having the whole of the improved frontage occupied by building. Certain suggestions are made on the map and are prepared with due regard to the importance of carrying out the work on the most economical lines. To do so, means that a definite and complete scheme for the whole area must be settled in advance but the work must be carried out in gradual stages.
As already stated Springfield Road and Rideau Terrace are only about 40 feet wide although they are much more important thoroughfares than any which will intersect the property. It is important that before further local improvements are laid down in these roads there should be a definite arrangement made with the city regarding their widening to 50 feet as recommended. Under the Ontario law it is necessary to plan every new road or street 66 feet wide without regard to its importance as a traffic thoroughfare or to any question relating to the height and [end of page 24][page 25]density of buildings. However absurd this rule may be it only becomes a real hardship when it applies to such as development as is contemplated at Lindenlea. If it were carried out literally on such a property it would add greatly to the expense of development without any useful purpose being gained.
Prior to 1918 streets could be laid out almost any width. The subdivision plans of streets abutting on the property were registered in 1906 and were not governed by the existing law.
Of the existing streets which are being retained Maple Lane is shown to be 50 feet wide and Lambton Road 60 feet wide. As a through thoroughfare Maple Lane is at least twice as important as Lambton Road. The former is in a direct line for through traffic between the extreme eastern and western parts of Rockcliffe, and latter is unlikely to be more than a street required for domestic uses. Had these two streets been laid out with due regard to traffic conditions, Maple Lane should have been 70 feet and Lambton Road 40 feet wide, if the present total width of the two roads is accepted as sufficient for both. On the other hand Rideau Terrace which is 40 feet wide should be twice as wide as Lambton Road, if the relative [end of page 25][page 26]degree of traffic likely to be carried out were the consideration.
Of course there is also the question that wide streets are required for the purpose of securing adequate air space between buildings. This again, however, is effected by the height and set-back permitted under building regulation. For two-storey buildings, such only as can be erected in Lindenlea, a street would be more adequate if made 24 feet, than 66 feet in streets where high office and apartment buildings are erected. This does not mean that 24 feet is enough, but that it is relatively better than 66 feet under certain conditions.
Unfortunately in Ontario we have not yet come to realize the interconnection between the different problems of land development in our legislation dealing with town planning. On Lindenlea, e.g. we are subject to the same rules that apply for office and apartment districts in the city or to potential office and apartment districts in the suburbs. One of the effects of this in time will be that the law will encourage denser and higher buildings for the purpose of paying for the excessive width of streets. This effect is already being experienced in Toronto where it is a contributory factor in the high price of land.
This question has a bearing on the cost of local improvements. Within the area itself I have endeavoured [end of page 26][page 27]to lay out the streets so as to provide adequate facilities for all probable future traffic and at the same time keep down the expense of construction to the maximum.
While the law of Ontario requires streets to be 66 feet wide it does not require them to be opened up or constructed in any special way so long as the area is reserved. As a matter of fact the law is defective in that it does not do more than insist on the space being left and is not followed up by any system of inspection as to how it is used. This enables the law to be defeated where lanes are shown and in either ways which are injurious.
On the Lindenlea property I am proposing that we should provide open spaces along the edges of the comparatively narrow streets so as to use the land to the best advantage and so that if at any future time it is necessary to widen the streets to land which is in the open space can be added to the streets.
Only in the case of four streets is it proposed to have a street reservation of less than 66 feet. These two streets are: –
(1) The short part of Lindenlea which connects with Lambton Road. [end of page 27][page 28]
(2) The whole of Elmdale between Rockcliffe Way and Lambton Road.
(3) A short part of Rock Avenue.
(4) A short connecting street between Elmdale and Maple Avenue.
If the City and the Railway and Municipal Board insist upon these streets [sic] being widened to 66 feet, it can be done subject to the Commission retaining the 10 feet it proposes to give to the City for widening Springfield Road and Rideau Terrace. I feel sure, however, that the public advantage is so much to be served by widening Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road, and also by keeping the four streets I have mentioned down to 50 feet in width, that there should be no difficulty in getting the approval of the authorities. The alternative is to leave Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road at their present width, which would be a serious injury to the neighbourhood.
It will be noted, however, that no houses are permitted to be nearer to each other on the opposite side of any streets than 66 feet. Having regard to the power of the Commission to enforce a condition of this kind in its contracts, and to the fact that a building line is shown on the plan all the objects of the Ontario [end of page 28][page 29]Law will be effected.
Surroundings of Dwellings
In considering the layout of land for housing purposes, it is just as necessary to pay regard to the surroundings as to the building of the dwellings. These surroundings require consideration, not merely in the immediate locality of the site of any dwelling, but for some distance on all sides of it. The orientation, opportunities for obtaining light and air, privacy, shade and garden space, with public open spaces reasonably accessible, are all necessary. It does not require any argument to show that a constructive scheme, such as is contemplated at Lindenlea, is eminently more satisfactory than a series of restrictive legislations. If proper regard is paid to health and convenience in the general layout of an area, to simplicity and economy of design of buildings, and to the preservation of light and shade, no strained artificial methods are needed to give any particular property variety, interest and attractiveness. When the necessities of our climatic conditions are properly regarded, and space for light, air and recreation is preserved, we will find that consideration of utility, [end of page 29][page 30]produce all the beauty that is needed in home surroundings and that these are not a matter of sentimental consideration.
In planning land for the purpose of residence, any forced artistic presentation is undesirable. Of course it has to be realized that the picture presented by any plan or paper can only be understood by anyone who can visualize the effect of the scheme when it is completed, and the merit or demerit of a scheme can only be understood when the houses are built and occupied.
First Sites to Develop
It is suggested that the first houses to be erected should be built on the frontage of Rideau Terrace so that there will be no delay in obtaining local improvements. While these are being built, steps should be taken to construct extensions of the sewers and watermains and to lay down macadam roadways so as to open up the property for complete development next summer. With a small estate of this kind it is hardly necessary to consider the question of constructing such local improvements as sewers and macadam roadways in any piece-meal way. It is almost a certainty that the whole estate will be taken up for building purposes immediately and there is no risk in [end of page 30][page 31]laying down the sewers, roadways, etc. in the way that proves most economical for the whole property. Whatever form of constructing other local improvements, such as permanent pavements and sidewalks may ultimately be decided upon will depend largely on the wishes of the residents. They will have to pay for them in the form of local improvement taxes and will have a voice in determining when they should be provided and what they should consist of.
Personally, I am convinced that asphalt pavements and concrete sidewalks will be unnecessary on this property for many years and that it would be an excessive burden to the inhabitants if they have to meet the cost of what are called permanent local improvements, in addition to the cost of building their houses. The size of the lots and their wide frontage will enable us to have a comparatively cheap form of paving for most streets. Through traffic will be largely limited to Rockcliffe Way and Maple Avenue.
I suggest that a simple form of macadam roadway should be provided in all streets forthwith. This should vary from 14 to 18 feet wide. On Rockcliffe Way it should be 18 feet wide and be constructed of well-consolidated macadam, surfaced over with [end of page 31][page 32]bituminous material. Some simple form of gravel sidewalk might be provided for most of the streets where sidewalks are necessary. If however, the land and the streets are well drained it will not be necessary to have sidewalks on the streets where through traffic is not likely to occur. The charm and utility of some Rockcliffe roads, which have no sidewalks, and have their frontages occupied by buildings should be obtained where possible, and the saving in expense would be a big consideration.
Whatever kind of roadway will be laid down at the expense of the city will depend on the City Council. The Commission will have to be content with whatever is the customary practice. It is, important, however, that something be done at once to lay out, grade and make the streets in a form suitable for immediate traffic needs on the most economical principles. I am not in a position to make any definite recommendations as the matter is one for the city to decide. So far as the Commission is concerned I would advocate that they should be prepared to spend something in addition to what the city spends in laying out the streets. The sewers will be constructed as local improvements and charged against the property while the water mains and electric wiring will be [end of page 32][page 33]provided in the ordinary way without cost of the installation.
Schedule of Areas and Prices, Sixes of Lots etc
Accompanying this report is a schedule of areas and prices of lots. You will observe that the lots are divided into eight sections – A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H, and comprise a total of 168 residential lots and two lots for public buildings.
In considering what should be the sizes of these lots, I had to take into account two main factors. First, consideration had to be given to what was the width of frontage desirable to obtain proper convenience, amenity and healthy conditions for the building of the houses at reasonable cost. Secondly, it had to be kept in view that $600 was the maximum price which could be asked for any lot and that it was necessary for the Commission to obtain from the sale of the lots a sufficient sum to meet the capital cost of the site, plus any loss from interest which may accrue in future, any taxes for which they may be liable, and expenses of surveying, laying out the ground, etc.
I understand that the total cost of the ground is about $66,000. To this there will have to be added the additional expenses referred to. The Commission should have [end of page 33][page 34]a margin of $15,000 to cover these expenses. This would mean a total sum of about $ 81,000.
In deciding what price to recommend to you as reasonable to charge for the lots, I had to keep in view this aggregate sum, and the limit of $600 per lot. I had also to consider what would be reasonable in view of the prices charged for the adjacent property in the past. I came to the conclusion that 15 cents per square foot was the maximum price would should be put on the lots, and that these should be graduated from this price down to 10 cents per square foot. You will find therefore, that the approximate price per square foot is 10 to 15 cents, and that the average price over the whole property is only 12.8 cents. This gives you a prospective return of $81,238 for the 170 lots. I take it that this sum will be spent on purchasing and developing the property and therefore used for the benefit of the purchasers. It comprises $76,771.50 for the lots, $833.20 for the site for the garage, $757.80 for the site for the Institute and $2,875.50 for the street widening on Rideau Terrace and Springfield Road.
If the site for the garage is not required, for that purpose, it can be divided into lots, and sold at from 12 to 14 cents per square foot. In that case Lots [end of page 34][page 35]No. 60 and 61 should also be increased in price by 2 cents per square foot, as they have been kept down to a lower figure because of their proximity to the garage. Therefore if the garage is excluded it will provide you with an additional income. At the same time it must be recognized that if the garage is left out, the loss to the whole estate might be much greater that if three or four lots are kept down in price because of proximity to the garage.
There is less question about the Institute than the garage, and I think nothing should be permitted to prevent this site being reserved for this purpose. The value of the site is at 15 cents per square foot is unquestioned, and no doubt the residents will in time be willing to take it over and have the Institute or Club erected.
The lowest priced lot is $340, and the highest (exclusive of local improvements) is $595. In the case of all the lots fronting on Rideau Terrace, there has been added to the price of each lot, a sum of 75 cents per foot front, representing the value of the local improvements already paid for per lot. These local improvements have been paid for by a tax which has been in existence for the past ten years, and the amount paid is the equivalent of more than 75 cents proposed to be charged. The lots [end of page 35][end of page 36]fronting on Rideau Terrace are valuable and well worth the listed price. It would not be fair to the purchasers of the other lots to make them pay a local improvement tax for the cost of the sewers payable in taxes, which giving the frontagers on Rideau Terrace the benefit of improvements on which ten years payments have already been made.
You will observe that the lots are varied in size, and within the limits named, provide all sorts of alternatives with regard to prices. It is an advantage to have varied sizes of lots because each person can get the garden space they need and not what is forced upon them by stereotyped planning of lots of the same size. Everyone’s needs in this respect are not the same, and there are natural conditions which also operate to require different sizes. Some lots are occupied by trees which need to be preserved and require wider frontages than others without trees. Other lots are on rocky ground and are unsuited for gardening and therefore should be kept small. The lots in the valley are made comparatively large on the whole because the land is excellent for gardening purposes.
It should be a condition of the contract with the purchasers that the land included in the tennis courts, bowling green and the children’s play ground together with the park area shown around the Institute and between [end of page 36][page 37]Hillcrest and the site for the garbage, should be dedicated for public use.
It will be noticed that the total price per lot in some cases included a few cents, and in a few cases of corner lots it is probable that these would be much more valuable if this were an ordinary real estate development. By that I mean that if the purchasers were in a position to use them for the erection of stores they would be able to pay twice the figure shown on the schedule. Under the scheme, however, it is intended to prevent any house being converted into a store, and the purchase price has to be fixed with due regard to this condition.
The fact that an ordinary real estate operator might obtain larger prices for the corner lots, does not mean that he would get better value. If we were to sell the corner lots for stores, we would depress the values of the other lots much more than we would gain form a special sale of the corner lots. [end of page 37]
[page 38]One strong reason for keeping the price within reasonable limits and for putting all the figures frankly before the purchasers as has been done in this report, is that it will only be by these means that the property can be sold rapidly to avoid heavy carrying charges. There have probably been more financial tragedies in Canada due to attempts to make high profits from the conversion of land into building lots than in any other form of speculation.
I venture to suggest that as every purchaser of the lots on this estate will get good value, as well as protection of his surroundings, it will not be necessary for the Commission to carry any portion of land any longer than it wishes.
Reproduced from a carbon copy of a document marked “Lindenlea Meeting Tuesday July 29th, 1919.”
Held in Library and Archives Canada. [page 38]
Illustrated Lecture of the Improvement of Towns and Cities by town Planning Methods
Prepared by the Town Planning Branch of The Commission of Conservation, Ottawa [Thomas Adams]
[Words in the brackets are correction notes on the original document]
Source: National Archives of Canada, CIP Fonds, W F Burditt papers, MG-28.1275 Volume 16, File: Address on Town Planning, Collected on June 16, 1997.
[Adams provided a script and lantern slides to planning promoters in remote Canadian Regions.]
1) THE CONGESTED CITY
The familiar consequence of the uncontrolled development of towns and cities is the modern slum with its appalling results in social degeneracy, infant mortality, economic loss and industrial unrest. Anyone who cares to take the trouble may acquaint himself with the facts. “There is no wealth but life”, said Ruskin. The modern slum destroys life because it dams up all its tributaries – fresh air, cleanliness, the incentive and stimulus [elevating influence] of beauty, the physical benefit of recreation for both children and adults, the springs [stimulus] of ambition, hope and happiness. There family affections parish by the pressure of unlovely environment and constant irritations and [while] “the promises and potencies” of child life do not and cannot come to fruition. There is no sunlight either for the body or the soul. Upon such families [the children of the slums] the immense national cost of education is largely wasted. Slums are [not only] the hot beds of juvenile crime, as statistics simply prove, [but are] and the seed plot of social unrest and industrial revolution. It is often said that towns and cities cannot afford to clear out their slums [The question is not can we afford to clean up our slums but]. Can they [we] afford to keep them and plant more, year by year?
There is a fascination about the word liberty. It is a word with a hale. It is a sentiment for which brave men have cheerfully given their lives, but it is luxury that can be abused by men who know not now to use it and care not if their liberty entail, the environment of others. A community [no less than an individual] has also the right of liberty, to self-protection from ugliness, squalor and crime, which function far beyond their seat of operation [source]. A very few slides will be sufficient to show the nemesis that has followed the uncontrolled development of towns and cities. In this great country of open spaces and magnificent distances men and women and children may be found crowded together in ugly and insanitary buildings in almost every urban community [town and city]. It is a result of the theory that every man has a right to do what he likes with his own. The time has come to say: “Not if it injures and debases others.” Town planning means that a community must have the right to protest the life of its members, for its own sake and for the sake of those members and for the sake of the nation and the race, because “there is no wealth but life”.
SLUM SLIDES 1 to 5 (tentative)
2) THE BEGINNING OF BETTER HOUSING FOR THE WORKERS. PORT SUNLIGHT AND BOURNVILLE
In 1888 the head of a firm of soap makers, near Liverpool, then Mr. W.H. Lever, now LORD LEVERHULME, argued as follows: – “The only means of remedying social evils is to conduct wisely our own affairs to the greatest benefit of all. It is less our task to help the unfortunate than to prevent misfortune. Based upon this principle I reason that if the directors feel the need, after a day’s work, to find a comfortable and attractive home awaiting them on leaving work the same need exists for their co-workers. It appears to me that those who have contributed towards the prosperity of our business have the same right as we have to live a pleasant life in pleasant surroundings.”
Mr. Lever believed in prosperity – sharing with his employees and decided that the best form of prosperity – sharing in the interests of his workmen and their families as well as in the business was the provision of good homes in pleasant surroundings, with facilities for recreation, education and social enjoyment. He therefore built a new town on what has come to be called garden city lines. The houses are built in groups of three to nine houses each and there are not two groups alike. Each house has ample garden space, back and front and the supposed inevitable ugliness of the rear premises has been entirely abolished. There are trees, lawns, playing-grounds for adults and children, community halls, library, swimming pools, schools and churches. An impressionable Frenchman, coming suddenly upon the town, after visiting other industrial districts of Lancashire said: “I was charmed to receive such an impression of beauty and harmony after seeing so much ugliness, dirt and misery. One feels as if leaving the towns of the devil and suddenly entering the garden of Eden.” At one time the whole district was a swamp.
Yet Lord Leverhulme denies that he is a philanthropist. He says the provision of good housing for his work people is good business. “I can look any of my workmen in the face”, he has said, “and tell him, man to man. We never patronized you; we never intended doing so and we never shall attempt to thrust our patronage upon you. [And] any of my workmen can look me in the face and say: I never received any pay from you that was not due for my services. The strongest bond that can unite the different parties engaged in the same work is common interest in a common enterprise.” The cottages have never paid, in the sense that they have brought full return on the capital invested. The monetary less on them has been written off to prosperity-sharing. But they have paid many times in the conversation of life and human efficiency, in the creation of a contented and happy community and so far as the founders are concerned the reward has been not only in the settled and over prospering business but in the personal satisfaction that they were doing the decent thing to those who were the indispensable partners of their prosperity.
PORT SUNLIGHT SLIDES
The second notable experiment in the better housing of working people was made in England by Mr. George Cadbury, head of the firm of Cadbury Brothers, the well-known manufactures of cocoa and chocolate.
Mr. Cadbury had some in personal contest with the working man of Birmingham as one of the lenders of Men’s Adults’ Schools and for many years had given his Sunday mornings to the extension of this work. He had visited the men in their homes end was profoundly impressed by the evil and depressing conditions under which many of them spent their lives. He found there was a great scarcity of houses in the working class districts of Birmingham. The rents were high and the leisure time of the men was mostly spent in an atmosphere of squalor and dreary monotony. He saw that the only radical sure for such conditions was a complete change of environment. He acquired an estate at Bournville, situated about four miles from the centre of Birmingham, and in 1895 formulated a scheme to build comfortable cottages with garden space sufficient to provide wholesome employment for the tenants during their leisure time, and to give them an opportunity for cultivating now interests and tastes.
Mr. Cadbury required a site large enough to build a new village as well as a new factory. The result has been one of the healthiest and most efficient industrial developments in England. The Village has been established on a paying basis and there is freedom from undue paternalism. The Port Sunlight scheme is architecturally superior to Bournville but is probably more paternalistic in its management. Mr. Cadbury decided that he would not restrict the tenancy of the cottages to his own work people. About one-third of the houses are occupied by employees and the balance by people from the city at large. Bournville is now a flourishing and beautiful village and is visited by thousands of persons of all nationalities during the year. The residential part of the estate now comprises 613 acres and houses about 5,000 people. The cottages on the estate average about 6 to the acre and are semi-detached or in blocks of four. They are usually of two storeys only and have not less than three bedrooms with the exception of a few that have two for small families. They are not built with back rooms and out houses straggling out behind and the rear premises are gardens that are fully cultivated and provide an additional source of income to the tenants.
From early spring to late autumn the front gardens are bright with a succession of flowers. Each home has a garden plot averaging 500 square yards in area. In addition to a vegetable garden there are rows of fruit trees, which form a pleasant screen to the gardens that in springtime make the landscape beautiful with their lovely blossoms.
The rentals of the cottages range from $1.25 per week to $2.50 per week.
Bournville had been described as the most contented community in England. The houses on the estate occupy 6.6 per cent of the area; the gardens 64. 8 per cent; the fasteries occupy 6.6 per cent and parks and open spaces 10 per cent. The benefits of these schemes are not only a great advantage conferred on the workers and their families by their improved environment but the financial gain they have been to the manufacturers by giving them more sufficient and healthier employees and by providing them with adequate space to erect roomy factories and to permit of extension as required to meet the growing needs of the industries.
Mr. Cadbury decided that the houses should be made to pay for themselves to the extent of four per cent of the capital.
Since the establishment of the village there has been a much greater demand for the cottages than the supply chould give and applicants often wait a whole year before accommodation can be provided for them.
The natural desire for physical and intellectual recreation has been met to a most generous extent. There are tennis courts and bowling greens, swimming pools, classes for the aged, and other provisions for the welfare of the people. The average death rate of Bournville for eight successive years was 6.6 per 1,000 against 16.9 per 1,000 in the town of Birmingham. The infant mortality rates were 65.9 per 1,000 as against 157.5 per 1,000 in Birmingham. The statement is made that the average height of boys in Bournville schools in 1907 was four inches above that of school boys and girls in a district in Birmingham and the chest measurement 3 inches greater.
The example of these two interesting experiments in better housing was not lest upon the housing reformers in England. Some things had been clearly proved. The vital statistics of these new communities showed that life might be conserved and human efficiency and happiness increased by the provision of better houses for the people. But even these fasts did not constitute the whole of the lesson. It had been shown that not only should houses be better built but that the site on which they are built should be carefully planned with a view to the complete needs of the community and so the benefits of town planning emerged into view.
The foundation of the English Garden City at Letchworth in 1905 was intended to exemplify the lesson that had been learned at Fort Sunlight and Bournville. That scheme was started to establish certain principles. One of them was to take advantage of the prevailing tendency of manufacturing industries to migrate from large centres of population to rural districts, a tendency that is very prevalent in Canada at the present time. In such large centres as Toronto, industries are constantly moving out from the centre where they can get cheap land and better conditions for their expanding needs.
This decentralizing tendency on the part of the industry has been observed in Britain for the last 20 or 30 years. Big industries have been moving out of London and other large centres to the country districts. The originators of the Garden City movement said: “Let us take hold at this movement and found a new city that will offer special attractions to these industries that are looking for new locations. Let us group these manufactures together and build houses for their employees. Let us give them up-to-date transportation and other facilitates. Let us conserve the whole of the unearned increment of the value of the land rented by the inhabitants for those who create it and let us make such housing conditions for the people that slums shall be impossible.
Well, they have been comparatively unsuccessful. 5,600 acres were bought at $200 an acre. The promoters planned the site of the city. They put in an electrical installation, gas works and a pure water supply. They prescribed that there should be more than seven or eight homes to the acre. They put all the industries in one part of the estate where the prevailing winds would take the smoke away from the town. They improved the transportation system. The worker in Garden city lives within five minutes’ walk of his place of employment. No costly transportation system takes him from a point 10 miles out in the suburb to a plant in the centre of the city requiring him to spend two or three hours a day in going to and from his work.
It was decided to maintain control of the land in perpetuity for the benefit of the people. At Letchworth the so-called “unearned increment” is conserved for the benefit of those who create it. The land was bought at $200 an acre. The value of that land had now increased to $1,000 and $2,000 an acre and the whole of that increase in value goes to the reduction of taxes or to the development of the estate and the provision of new public services. There can be no private property in land at Letchworth. A lease can be acquired for 99 years with the right to renew at the end of that period, subject to re-evaluation, and it has been found that this system gives the practical feeling of ownership while the important power is reserved by the trustees of the community to prevent misuse of the land by incongruous and undesirable development.
The profits also from these public services are retained for the benefit of the community and it has been found by the people of Letchworth that the largest profits in the early years of development were secured from the distribution of such utilities as gas, electricity, water and other necessities of life and that these results were due to proper planning. It is common knowledge that the profits from such undertakings are usually handed over to private concerns.
An important and interesting feature of the Garden City scheme is the agricultural belt around the city. The city area comprises about 1,200 acres, laid out for a population of 20,000 persons. In 1902 there were about a dozen farm houses and labourers’ cottages on the site. At present there are 20 factories and 13,000 people. Two thousand six hundred acres of the original area, with an additional 700 acres recently acquired, are reserved as a permanent agricultural belt around the city. The charter of the city provided that this belt must be reserved permanently for agricultural purposes, or for such recreations as golf, tennis, or other outdoor games. Thus the inhabitants have a large open area all around the city that can never be built upon and the produce of this agricultural area is brought close to the door of the consumer.
If the city increases its population over 20,000 it must extend by leaping over the agricultural belt. The industry of farming is thus linked up with the manufacturing in one community, avoiding the usual separation of town and country and the unsightly, ragged and uneconomic development on the fringe of the city that is so common in Canada.
People are apt to assume that model housing enterprises can only be carried out by wealthy philanthropists or governments with limited resources. The Letchworth experiment was experiment by a number of social reformers, including the founder, Mr. Ebenezer Howard, – who was a court stenographer, – the late Sir Ralph Neville, a judge, Mr. George Cadbury, and Mr. Alfred Harmsworth – now Lord Northcliffe, proprietor of The Times and though some of these men wealthy and put a little money into the project the bulk of the capital was subscribed by persons of quite moderate means who had faith in the project. It was undertaken on a capital of little more than $500,000, and the whole of the capital raised has not been more than $500,000. That money is now beginning to pay the limited dividend of 5%.
The main lesson of Letchworth is that when scientific methods are applied to the development of industrial and social life as they are to the actual operations of individual industries and especially to the complicated operations of the war the housing problem is not insoluble. At Letchworth the solution of it has been found in proper town planning.
LETCHWORTH SLIDES (tentative)
5) HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB AND OTHER GARDEN SUBURBS RESIDENTIAL COPARTNERSHIP
The founder of the Hampstead Garden Suburb was Mrs. Henrietta Octavia Barnett, upon whom has been conferred by the King with the Order of the British Empire. Mrs. Barnett was the wife of the late Canon Barnett and was his co-worker for many years in the east end of London. There the two reformers founded the university settlement, Toynbee Hall, and recently 400 similar settlements in America were able to testify to Mrs. Barnett of the social value of this project.
By much study and much tragic experience Mrs. Barnett came to the conclusion that the only way to solve the housing problem in the cities was to get the people out into the country. She built a garden village at Hampstead on town planning lines and there she mixed the rich and the poor, because, she said, if the poor were properly housed the social contact would be as good for the rich and the poor. By her personal influence Mrs. Barnett gathered around her a band of reformers who adopted the details of her scheme, one by one, and made them practical. Because of her singleness of purpose – the better housing of the people – her appeals to the wealthy were seldom in vain.
With Letchworth, Hampstead Garden Suburb has now become a place of pilgrimage for visitors from all parts of the world, and its example has been followed by many other large towns and cities in Britain. Though the garden suburb is purely residential and does not embody some of the more vital economic features of the garden city scheme its social value as an experiment in better housing in beyond question.
6) WAR HOUSING: INDUSTRIAL AND RESIDENTIAL
At Well Hall, near Woolwich, there was built during the year of 1915 a town of 6,000 persons. This town was built and occupied within nine months of a time when the whole organization of the country was devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, the raising and transportation of troops and many other war activities. The Government decided that good houses and social contentment, with good wages and reasonable hours of labour were the best and most direct way to arrive at the maximum of production of war materials. If it is a sound policy to build good homes and provide pleasant surroundings for workmen in the middle of war in order to increase the output of munitions is to not obvious that method must also prove sound in times of peace for the maximum of production of the necessities of life? Under the war strain the British people were working at high pressure and it would not have been unnatural to say to the people that as patriots they should be content with unpleasant and unfavourable and unpleasant housing conditions. But it was considered wiser, even in the time of war, to follow the bold policy of building permanent and healthy houses with agreeable surroundings. At Gretna Green, once the refuge of romantic couples who wished to get married in a hurry, the same experiment in sociology was adopted.
For efficiency in industry rest and recuperation are necessary and these are impossible in overcrowded and insantiary rooms and in congested districts where there is no outlet for the natural and necessary demand for change and recreation – as essential to adults as to children. These war villages were planned with regard to these human needs. The houses were built with the utmost economy, but it was considered the best spiritual economy to provide dense halls, moving picture theatres, club rooms, churches, reading rooms and outdoor recreation facilities.
7) CANADIAN HOUSING AND TOWN PLANNING
At a joint conference of the provincial premiers and the Dominion Government held at the close of the year 1918 one of the important subjects of discussion was that of the need of creating better housing conditions in Canada for working people. As a result of this conference the Federal Government decided to make loans to the provincial governments to the extent of $25,000,000 for the promotion of better housing in Canada. It was frankly recognized that in the provision of houses of small cost and low rental private enterprise has practically ceased to operate during the years of the war and that the shortage of such houses had become a menace to national health and industrial peace. The plan adopted was to lend money to the provinces at the low rate of 5% and to make the provinces responsible for the distribution of the fund to municipalities, housing societies or private persons who should be owners of building lots.
With the exception of Alberta and Saskatchewan all the provinces have passed Housing Acts in conformity with the Federal project and progress is being made with the building of comparatively low-priced houses. In Ontario nearly a hundred local housing commissions have been appointed and houses have been built and occupied.
But only in the province of Quebec is there a manifest determination to profit by the lessons of town planning. There encouragement is being given to the creation of comparatively large areas of cheap suburban land with a view to the creation of garden suburbs or garden villages where the advantages of town planning may be demonstrated. A slide will be shown of a proposed Confederation Garden Suburb which it is intended should be completed to celebrate the golden jubilee of Confederation.
The Toronto Housing Company built a number of cottages a few years ago and showed what can be done on small areas on town planning principles to provide safe playgrounds for children and common lawns for the residents. A few slides are shown of cottages arranged in quadrangular fashion. Slides are also shown, taken from Mr. Thomas Adams’ book on “Rural Planning and the Development” to show the treatment of a ten acre plot built around an open space.
Most of the provinces of Canada have now town planning Acts on the statute books but much pressure of educated public opinion is needed to bring them into operation. The Acts of Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia have compulsory clauses which come into operation three years after passing of the Act. In Britain the experience of ten years has proved that merely permissive acts are of little avail and town planning of new building areas has been made compulsory in the interests of public welfare.
In Canada the Ontario Planning and Development Act is the least satisfactory of all and urgently needs amendment. It is concerned primarily with the planning of streets and roads and does not touch such vital matters as the height, density and character of buildings, the building lines on street frontages and air space surrounding buildings; the relation between width of streets and the buildings thereon; limitations of the number of dwellings on a given area of land; the zoning of cities so as to separate factory, business, residential, and agricultural areas; the grouping of dwellings with a view to convenience and architectural effect and the provision of open spaces and recreation grounds. The time is more than due when a satisfactory town planning act should be passed for the great province of Ontario.
SLIDES OF TORONTO HOUSING COMPANY
CONFEDERATION GARDEN SUBURBS (not available)
The pictures that have been shown of modern housing conditions in the Old Country are not intended to suggest that the problem has there been solved and that housing conditions are worse in Canada than in England. They are intended to show that a determined effort has been made in Britain to solve the problem and we need the inspiration of what the Mother Country is doing in better housing of the people.
Canada is a young country and at present has comparatively little to show in the way of organized effort in housing reform, but a beginning has been made at Toronto by the Toronto Housing Committee and at Ottawa in the development of two garden suburbs. At Kipawa Mr. Thomas Adams is assisting the Riordon Pulp and Paper Company with planning a model village for houses for millworkers.
The Housing Commission of the province of Quebec are spending the chief part of their grant from the Federal Government in the promotion of garden suburbs and garden villages.
There are, speaking generally, worse housing conditions in England than in Canada, but as a new country we have the advantage of learning from the mistakes of others, and it would be to our perpetual discredit if we did not take such steps as are necessary and practical to prevent the development of slums in our Canadian towns and cities.
The founder of Port Sunlight has pointed out that it is wiser and more economical to prevent the misfortune of slums than to help the unfortunate.
There is also another point for notice in these English experiments. The most successful of them have been due to private enterprise of the best kind and have not depended on government money. They have been based upon co-operation and goodwill between employers and employees, and they have promoted co-operation in all kinds of social effort that are not less important than housing itself. They have solved the industrial as well, as the housing problems, and they have established that good-will among men that is the only condition of industrial peace and social welfare.
Commentary on the Planning of Lindenlea Garden Suburb
David L. A. Gordon
Ottawa had no Garden Cities, but Thomas Adams’ 1919 design for Lindenlea is a fine example of a Garden Suburb. The 9 hectare (22 acre) site was a demonstration project for the federal government’s first affordable housing programme, providing modest homes in an attractive setting, with a community hall, small parks system, a wading pool, tennis court and playground. Adams re-planned the area, replacing the grid proposed by the Ottawa Housing Corporation for the steep and rocky site between Beechwood Avenue and Rockcliffe Park. Unfortunately, the overall effect was initially marred by construction of identical houses in almost every lot, but these have been much-modified over the years.
Lindenlea’s garden suburb layout is no surprise, since Thomas Adams was first Secretary of Britain’s Garden City Association and manager of Letchworth, the first Garden City, before migrating to Canada in 1914. The federal government’s Commission of Conservation scored a coup when it attracted the first president of the British Town Planning Institute to Ottawa. Adams was Town Planning Advisor to the Commission from 1914 to 1923, during which time he sponsored numerous provincial planning acts and established the Town Planning Institute of Canada, serving as its first National President in 1919. He re-planned Halifax’s Richmond District and Hydrostone neighbourhood after the devastating 1917 explosion, and also designed plans for the resource towns of Temiscaming, Québec (1917) and Corner Brook, Newfoundland (1923). Adams also prepared Canada’s first comprehensive zoning bylaw (1923) for Kitchener, with his Canadian assistant Horace Seymour.
After the demise of the Commission of Conservation, Adams became the director of the Regional Plan of New York, perhaps the most significant plan of the inter-war period. But Lindenlea remains Thomas Adams most charming residential design.
Delaney, Jill. 1991. “The Garden Suburb of Lindenlea, Ottawa: A Model Project for the First Federal Housing Policy, 1918-1924”, Urban History Review, 19, pp. 151-165.
Simpson, Micheal. 1982. “Thomas Adams in Canada, 1914-1930” Urban History Review, 11(2), pp-1-15.
Simpson, Michael. 1985. Thomas Adams and the Modern Planning Movement: Britain, Canada and the United States, 1900-1940. London: Mensell.
PROPOSED OR COMPLETED DEVELOPMENTS
Site Planning at Lindenlea, Ottawa
Source: Journal of the Town Planning Institute of Canada, Volume 1 (3), April 1921, pp4-5.
The accompanying plan of the Lindenlea property in Ottawa was prepared in July, 1919, on the instructions of the Housing Commission of the City of Ottawa. The property comprised an area of approximately 22 acres and was purchased at $3,000 per acre. Prior to its being acquired by the Commission it was laid out with rectangular streets which had been planned without regard to the topographical conditions of the site. In the acquisition of this estate the Ottawa Housing Commission had an exceptional opportunity to create an ideal garden suburb. The land is situated at a high elevation and surrounded, to a considerable extent, by open country. It was sufficiently undulating to give it character and interest without making it costly to develop, if carefully planned. A large part of it was covered by beautiful tree, most of which could be preserved without detriment to the building lots. The cost of the property was somewhat high, having regard to the fact that the object of the Commission was to erect small houses which could not bear to be saddled with a high cost for land.
In preparing the plan of subdivision this question of keeping the lots relatively small, in order that no lot should cost more than $600 had to be considered. The first step taken was to prepare a map on a scale of 20 ft. to the inch, showing the levels of the land and the positions of the principal trees. On the completion of this map a study was made of the surrounding highways and of the extent to which provision would have to be made for through traffic across the property in laying out the plan of streets. The conclusion arrived at was that the only direction in which a through traffic route was necessary was from the southeast to the northwest corner of the property. This gave rise to the planning of Rockcliffe Way for the purposes of through traffic and also as the backbone of the remainder of the plan of street system. Rideau Terrace, Lambton Road, Maple Avenue and Rockcliffe Road were already fixtures. Apart from Rockcliffe Way, which had to be 66 ft. wide, it was desirable to limit the amount of land given to streets to the maximum of available land for open spaces.
The following points may be noted regarding the secondary streets. Ottawa Way provides an entrance to the centre of the estate from the existing thoroughfare of Rideau Terrace. From the highest point on the estate this Way opens up a vista of the parliament buildings and the centre of Ottawa.
The narrower street, called Lindenlea, starts from Springfield Road through a slight cut for 100 feet and then follows the top of a small escapement until it ceaches Rockcliffe Way. On the east side of Rockcliffe Way it follows tile foot of the escarpment. During a great part of its length through tile property it is 20 feet wide but has open spaces along the site which can be put to a much more useful purpose than if it had been included in the street. Rock Avenue is a fork road with two arms 20 feet wide, each running on both sides of a rock outcrop. The cost of removing this rock would have been greater than the value of the land for building on and instead of being allowed to be an encumbrance, it was converted into as asset by the treatment shown in the plan.
The portion of land that lies between Rockcliffe Way, Lindenlea and Labmton Road consists of a small hill and this has been developed so as to avoid the necessity of having steep graded street leading from the high to the low land. Rockcliffe Way passes over the southern side of the ridge without making it necessary to have a steep grade. The short cul-de-sac road called Hillcrest enables some of the rear land to be developed as lots on the edge hill overlooking the escarpment.
The open spaces were selected with due regard for the purposes for which they had to be used. They comprise tennis courts and bowling greens 34,580 square feet, park 19,400 square feet, children’s playground and parkway 43,700 square feet and other small areas making a total of 118,734 square feet. The subdivisions were made with a view to ensuring wide frontage and some back garden, without extensive depth. A study of the plan will show that there is comparatively little low in long frontages on the corner lots.
The number of lots is 168 and the average price recommended to be asked for each lot was 12.5 cents per aquare foot or $457 per lot.
Since the plan was completed the erection of houses has been carried on by the Housing Commission. Unfortunately thee increase in prices of building has made it difficult for the Commission to complete the scheme as rapidly as was hoped. Among the recommendations made when the plan was submitted to the was that Rockcliffe Way should be laid out as a boulevard as part of the driveway around the city; that the parks and tennis courts on the property should be improved and leased to clubs of the residents; that the landscape features of the site should be protected and developed and that careful consideration should be given to the placing of each house and the type of architecture adopted.
Unfortunately, the town planner, in a case of this kind, has no control over the design and type of building erected unless he is made responsible in association with the architect for that part of the work as well as laying out the street and lot system. The preparation of a plan of streets and lots does not alone insure good development. There must also be proper discremination shown in the type of buildings erected, particularly in the design of those occupying strategic points and vistas at the ends of the streets. Many excellent plans are spoiled by the responsibility for the design of the land being placed under one control and the responsibility for the design of the buildings under another. A divergent point of view arises in this way which cannot lead to satisfactory results. Lots that are designed specially to secure a certain effect convey no meaning to anyone but the designer. The art or grouping buildings is quite different from that of designing individual buildings. The time is not yet to express an opinion on the final results of the architectural features of Lindenlea although it is quite apparent that a mistake has been made in building a large number of houses of what is probably the least attractive type of house on the property.
There is still time to correct, in a considerable degree, this mistake by careful planting and by the use of landscape features. The ultimate success of the scheme will depend on the enterprise shown in improving the surroundings of the buildings erected.
It is important for town planners to bear in mind that the planning of sites such as Lindenlea should be under the supervision of one directing head from the beginning to the completion of the scheme. The fact that it is not practicable in some cases does not lessen the importance of having continuity of control where it is possible.
One fact stands out in connection with Lindenlea, namely, that as a site plan it was successful because as soon as the plan was prepared and the lots placed on offer they were sold without difficulty. The price obtained was sufficient to recoup the Commission for the cost of the land plus the proportion of the cost invested in spaces for recreation park and roads. Any difficulties that may have occurred to prevent the purchasers from completing their difficulties, largely outside of the control of the Commission but also owing to the lack of cohesion in controlling the building development in conformity with the plan of the ground.
Source: The Canadian Engineer, Volume 47 (10), August 1924
Collected from National Archives of Canada, MG 30 C-105, File: Ottawa Town Planning 30 Sept- 1924, Date Aug 15, 1997.
Letter to the Editor: August 26, 1924
by Louis Simpson, criticizing Lindenlea Site Plan
OTTAWA TOWN PLANNING
Sir :- In your June 24th issue, you publish an article written by Thomas Adams, entitled “A Review of Town Planning in Canada.” In that article, Mr. Adams refers to “One small scheme in Ottawa,” which he claims “might have been made a model of site planning and housing for the whole country, if it had been carried out on the lines originally planned.”
Ottawa citizens, who have made town planning, also economic and healthy housing a study, who also know the circumstances, totally disagree with Mr. Adams’ statement. They claim that the site was badly chosen, that the layout was most uneconomic, in fact the “small scheme” possessed the elements of disaster from the very commencement, that is as “originally planned.” They claim that appearance, alone, was considered; and further for a building site, consisting as this one did of glacial drift clay, full of large boulders, and without any municipal improvements, far too much money was paid.
Mr. Adams cannot relieve himself of his responsibility for this selection. Similar mistakes are likely to occur so long as he makes appearance (not health, comfort and economy) the deciding and governing factor. When this is done the town planner prostitutes his profession and becomes simply a town planning milliner.
No town planning is worth while, unless its foundation is the economic betterment of humanity. When the money, to be expended, is a known factor, it is folly, it is worse than folly, it is a crime to expend upon the location, (including in that expenditure provision for the necessary improvements), and also upon such frills as make up what is known as the requisites of a “Garden City” such a large portion of the money available, that the balance is insufficient to provide the necessities of comfortable, durable and sanitary buildings, building suitable to the climatic conditions existing. In no case must or can local conditions be ignored. To do so, is to court failure, as is evidenced in the Lindenlea, Ottawa, fiasco. Expenditures that might be justified at Bournville or at Latchworth (England) may be entirely improper, and even criminal, when undertaken in Canada or in Newfoundland.
Because a certain style of clothing is considered suitable when worn on Bond Street, London, it does not follow that similar clothing must be worn in Canada, where at times the temperature is more than 30 degrees lower than zero and when with that temperature blizzards may be blowing. Mr. Adams will best safeguard his reputation by, at once, admitting that the Lindenlea town planning was a sad and grevious mistake and failure. The causes of the failure are known-also that, in future, risks of similar failures will be made impossible by remembering that appearance without comfort, is not conducive to success. It is human to err and when repentant the sinner is forgiven. The wise man will seek to profit by the results of his past mistakes so that similar mistakes may, in the future, be avoided.
The following is cut from a local paper and speaks for itself. “I think the city is going to take a shocking lose in selling these houses,” said Controller Ellis, “but we must face the fact that the longer they are left vacant the longer taxes accumulate, together with interest, and the more dilapidated they become. They must be sold, and sold soon.”
It is rumored that this “one small scheme” referred to by Mr. Adams will lose the city of Ottawa over $30,000, perhaps $45,000, as there are no less than 30 houses that will have to be disposed of at a considerable loss.
Economic town planning in Canada possesses features and local conditions so utterly different from those that exist in England, (I was born and brought up in England so am competent judge) that anyone who is “hide bound” to English practice is very liable to make very costly mistakes.
172 O’Connor St., Ottawa.
Source: The Canadian Engineer, Volume 47 (9), August 1924
Collected from National Archives of Canada, MG 30 C-105, File: Ottawa Town Planning 30 Sept 1924, Date Aug 15, 1997.
Letter to the Editor: September 30, 1924
by Thomas Adams, defending Lindenlea Site Plan
Ottawa Town Planning
Sir: I wish it were possible for me to take the criticisms of Mr. Louis Simpson seriously as I should like nothing better than to thrash out the truth of some of his ideas of appearance and economy in relation to town planning. Unfortunately Mr. Simpson cannot be impersonal in any discussion that relates to myself; although I wish he would realize, for the sake of such public causes as he has at heart, that he suffers from a purely imaginary grievance. It is refreshing however, to have him make his latest attack in the open, as he does in your issue of August 26th.
He claims that he writes on behalf of Ottawa citizens “who have made a study of town planning” and agree with his views. I challenge him to give the name of one disinterested citizen who knows the facts about Lindenlea and will disagree with any statement of mine on the subject.
The site chosen for Lindenlea was an excellent choice and the plan made for its lay-out was both practicable and economic. Instead of there being any elements of disaster in the original scheme, the only thing that has saved it from disaster has been the landscape treatment. Mr. Simpson can obtain direct evidence in support of that statement from those who were the first to take up residence on the estate and were in a position to judge the merits and defects of the plan and its administration. It was only the preservation of the trees and the setting apart of ten per cent of the area for open space, in accordance with the best commercial practice of modern real estate developers, that prevented the full fruits of mismanagement of the architectural details and administration being reaped. With regard to the cost of the site I advised that it was too high and therefore have no responsibility but on the whole the price paid for the land was not unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances. The scheme could have been made profitable in spite of this if expert advice had been followed.
On the subject of appearance it is the exact contrary of the facts to say that this was given undue consideration or that regard for appearance has contributed to any loss. Indeed the only houses that cannot be sold are those which were erected with a blind regard for false ideas of economy and without regard for the amenities that are necessary to give stability to a housing scheme.
Mr. Simpson’s analogy between clothing in England and Canada is not too happy. After all the Bond Street cut and the Hawick or Bradford woollens are not regarded as inappropriate for Canadian wear. What would be wrong, and what forms a more correct comparison, would be for an English grocer to design clothing for Canada -but after all a Canadian grocer would not be so well fitted for the task as an English tailor.
Mr. Simpson refers to a loss of $30,000 to $35,000 on the Lindenlea scheme. If he wants to know why this loss has to be met he can ascertain the facts. He will find that it is because the original plan was not carried out; that the houses erected under proper expert advice are all occupied; that those of the original purchasers whose houses were erected with some regard for the plan of the site, and who had to leave the district, have sold their houses at no loss and in some cases at a profit. He can ascertain names from the secretary of the Lindenlea Association. He will find that those who erected their own houses have only been disappointed because the original ideas have been ignored; or because their amenities have been destroyed by careless arrangement of adjoining houses. I visited one house the other day that was built according to a plan prepared in my office; only because the owner persisted that he would not accept another plan that he was asked to accept. The house like most of those erected was placed in a wrong position on the lot but the owner was satisfied on the whole and could have sold out at a considerable profit until recently. The Commission then allowed a house to be erected on an adjoining lot in a position that caused serious depreciation of the house first erected-with the result that the owner has suffered a loss estimated at $1,500 on his investment, as is proved by his, application for reduced assessment.
The houses that cannot be sold are badly planned, and their external appearance is so unattractive that they not only do not find purchasers but destroy the values of better designed houses in their neighborhood. There are parts of the estate that have a charm equal to that in the best housing neighborhoods in Ottawa because of the preservation of trees and open spaces, and the splendid efforts made by the owners to beautify their surroundings. Failure is only partial and even now, because of the character of the plan of the site, it would be possible for the city to get rid of the defects if they were prepared to make good the administrative mistakes that have been made. Unfortunately there are influences at work that make this difficult.
Nearly all, war and post-war housing had to be carried on at a loss, and even if the loss in Ottawa need not have been incurred if the advice originally given had been followed, it would still be small compared to that of cities in other parts of the world. Ottawa had an opportunity to make Lindenlea a model scheme of national importance and even now with all its administrative faults it can be rescued from an ordinary real estate development.
Chateau Laurier, Ottawa.
Literary Resources on Thomas Adams
Adams, Thomas (1914) “What Town Planning Really Means”, The Canadian Municipal Journal, 10(7), pp. 113-116.
Adams, Thomas (1915) “Garden Cities”, Conservation of Life, 1(3), pp. 60-65.
Adams, Thomas (1915) Commission of Conservation, Sixth Report, 1915, pp. 158-77.
Adams, Thomas (1916) “Housing Conditions in Canada”, Conservation of Life, 3(1), pp. 10-11.
Adams, Thomas (1917) “Town Planning in Canada”, Town Planning Institute of Canada, 4, pp. 15-30.
Adams, Thomas (1917) Rural Planning and Development: A Study of Rural Conditions and Problems in Canada, Ottawa: Commission of Conservation.
Adams, Thomas (1919) Housing Project of Federal Government, Housing in Canada, Ottawa, Canada.
Adams, Thomas (1919) Report of the Planning and Development of the Lindenlea Estate, Ottawa, Ottawa: July 25, 1919.
Adams, Thomas, Illustrated Lecture of The Improvement of Towns and Cities by Town Planning Methods, Prepared by the Town Planning Branch of The Commission of Conservation, Ottawa.
Adams, Thomas (1919) “The Planning of Land in Relation to Municipal and Social Problems”, The Canadian Engineer, 37, pp. 472.
Adams, Thomas (1919) “Housing and Town Planning”, The Canadian Engineer, 37, pp. 435-38.
Adams, Thomas (1920) “Parks and Playgrounds in Cities”, Town Planning and Conservation of Life, 6(2), pp. 23.
Adams, Thomas (1921) The Housing Situation in Canada, Housing Betterment: A Journal of Housing Advice Issued by The National Housing Association, 10, pp. 40-42.
Commission of Conservation (1914) “Town Planning Advisor to Commission”, Conservation of Life, 1(2), pp. 27.
Commission of Conservation (1915) “Town Planning and Housing in Canada”, Conservation of Life, 1(3), pp. 52-56.
Commission of Conservation (1915) A Civic Improvement League for Canada: Report of a Preliminary Conference, 19 November 1915. Ottawa: Commission of Conservation.
Delaney, Jill (1991) “The Garden Suburb of Lindenlea, Ottawa: A Model Project for the First Federal Housing Policy, 1918-24”, Urban History Review, 19(3) pp. 151-165.
Hodge, Gerald and Gordon, David (2007) Planning Canadian Communities, 5th Ed. Toronto: Thomson Nelson.
McKeown, Bill (2006) Ottawa’s Streetcars: The Story of Electric Railway Transit in Canada’s Capital City. Pickering: Railfare Books.
Peake, Herold (1918) “Review Commission of Conservation: Rural Planning and Development”, The Town Planning Review, 7(3/4), pp. 272.
Saarinen, Oiva (1979) “The Influence of Thomas Adams and the British New Towns
Movement in the Planning of Canadian Resource Communities”, in Stelter and Artibise (eds.) Usable Urban Past: Planning and Politics in the Modern Canadian City (Ottawa: Macmillan of Canada).
Shurtleff, Arthur A. (1912) “The Bane of the Gridiron”, The First Canadian Housing and Town Planning Congress. Industrial Bureau Auditorium Winnipeg Canada, 10,National Archives of Canada, 30, C-105.
Sifton, Clifford (1914) Foreword – Hon. Clifford Sifton, Conservation of Life, 1(1), pp. 3-4.
Simpson, Michael (1982) “Thomas Adams in Canada 1914-1930”, Urban History Review, 11(2), pp. 1-15.
Simpson, Michael (1985) Thomas Adams and the Modern Planning Movement: Britain, Canada and the United States, 1900-1940. New York: Mansell.
Stein, David Lewis (1994) “Thomas Adams 1871-1940”, Plan Canada, 4, pp. 14-15.
Stein, David Lewis (1994) “The Commission of Conservation”, Plan Canada, 4, pp. 55.
Author Unknown (1919) “Ottawa Housing Commission Has Prepared Ideal Garden Development Plan”, Engineering and Contract Record, 33(33), pp. 775-778.
Author Unknown (1921) “Proposed or Completed Developments: Site Planning at Lindenlea”, Ottawa, Journal of Town Planning Institute, 1(3) pg. 4-5.