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Book Review

Town and Crown: An Illustrated History of Canada’s Capital

Town and Crown: An Illustrated History of Canada’s Capital

by David L.A. Gordon

Town and Crown is an illustrated history of the planning and development of Canada’s capital city, filling a significant gap in our urban scholarship. It is the story of the transformation of the region from a sub-arctic wilderness portage to an attractive modern metropolis with a high quality of life. The bookexamines the period from 1800-2011, and is the first major study that covers both sides of the Ottawa River, addressing the settlement history of aboriginal, French and English peoples.

Ottawa’s transformation was a significant Canadian achievement of the new profession of urban planning in the mid-twentieth century. Our national capital has the country’s most complete history of community planning, and served as a gateway for important international planning ideas and designers. Town and Crown illustrates the influence of landscape architect and Olmsted protégé Frederick Todd; Chicago’s City Beautiful architect Edward Bennett; and British planner Thomas Adams. Prime Minister Mackenzie King maintained a direct interest in planning Canada’s capital for almost fifty years, choosing France’s leading urbanist, Jacques Gréber, to plan the post-1945 redevelopment of the region.

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

David Gordon is Professor and Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Queen’s University. His latest books are Planning Twentieth Century Capital Cities and Planning Canadian Communities (with Gerald Hodge), which won the 2014 Canadian Institute of Planners' National Award of Distinction. David was born in Ottawa, where his family has lived for almost a century.

Table of Contents

  • List of Figures
  • Preface
  • Prologue
    1. A Magnificent Site (Pre-1826)
    2. Building Bytown (1826-1832)
    3. Imperial Outpost (1832-1857)
    4. The Queen’s Choice? (1858-1867)
    5. Lumbertown (1868-1900)
    6. Crown Plans: ‘Parking’ the Capital (1900-1912)
    7. Crown Plans: City Beautiful? (1913-1920)
    8. Roaring Twenties (1920-1930)
    9. Depression and the Wartime Capital (1930-1944)
    10. Post-War Plans (1945-1959)
    11. Boom Town (1960-1969)
    12. Town vs. Crown (1970-1989)
    13. From Red Tape to Blue Chips? (1990-2011)
    14.  Town and Crown: Lessons for the Future of Canada’s Capital
  • Epilogue
  • Cast of Characters
  • Bibliographic Essay
  • Acknowledgements
  • Endnotes
  • Index

You can purchase a copy of this book through or and
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