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.
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.
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.