A native of Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Benoît studied landscape architecture and city planning at Cornell University in the late 1940s, gaining a master’s degree in both disciplines. He set up his first office (and Trois-Rivières’ first office in either discipline) in the basement of his family’s residence. His practice expanded rapidly, becoming an active and influential interdisciplinary office that planned many of the new subdivisions, parks, boulevards and institutions that characterized the rapid growth of the postwar period in his home town and in many nearby municipalities– including Shawinigan-Sud, Lac-Mégantic, and Cap-de-la-Madeleine among others.
In 1961, in collaboration with his colleague Jean-Claude LaHaye, Benoît established the Institut d’Urbanisme, home of Quebec’s first French-language educational program in city planning. He served as the Institut’s first Director and played a key role in the discussions that led to the Institut’s integration into the Université de Montréal and the creation of the new Faculté de l’aménagement in 1968. In 1978, Benoît moved to the Department of Landscape Architecture, where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1988.
Benoît was also instrumental in creating a professional corporation for Quebec’s city planners - this has evolved into today’s Ordre des urbanistes du Québec – and was a founding member of the Association des architectes paysagistes du Québec in 1965.
Benoît served in advisory capacities at several levels of government, including a ten-year mandate as a consultant for the National Capital Commission in Ottawa. His manifold contributions were widely recognized: he was honoured as a Fellow of the CSLA and of the Canadian Institute of Planners, as a Membre honoraire of the AAPQ, and as a Membre émérite and winner of the médaille du Mérite of the OUQ. But the honour of which he was most proud was the naming of Parc Benoît-Bégin in his honour, in his native city of Trois-Rivières, in 2014.
Benoît Bégin passed away on January 12, 2018.
Arcadia Studios completed a series of interviews with Canadian landscape architect pioneers. View the episode on Benoît Bégin here.