Frances McLeod Blue (1914-1992), a Torontonian by birth, attended Havergal College, then le Collège féminin de Beaumont near Paris. When the eighteen-year old Frances returned home, her mother suggested that she study informally with Lorrie Dunington-Grubb, who had immigrated to Canada in 1911 from England to become Canada’s first female landscape architect, and one of nine founders of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and Town Planners (now the CSLA). Deeply influenced by Grubb, Frances enrolled at the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture in Groton, Massachusetts, which was the alma mater of two other CSLA founders, Helen Kippax and Frances Steinhoff. She graduated in 1937, then worked in the United States, returning to Canada during the Depression to become an associate member of the three-year-old Society. After a further stint working in Atlanta, she returned to Ontario for good in 1941, where she came to know all the founders of the fledgling CSLA. Over the years, she became the unofficial historian of the profession.
Following the war, Frances married Richard Blue who had served as a rifleman in the army. Together, they established Quaker’s Lundy Farms in Aurora, Ontario, where she challenged herself to create beautiful lawns and gardens in the “ferme ornée” style. The grounds were full of perennials – especially delphiniums – and in 1972, Richard Blue told the Globe and Mail they had planted 40,000 trees.
With the challenges of commercial farming and family life, Frances did not practice widely, but through more than three decades she remained vigorously active in professional associations, serving in numerous capacities, and in the process building an encyclopedic knowledge of Canadian landscape architects. She generously shared her knowledge, and in 1966, she was made a Fellow of the CSLA for her “extensive and valuable service to the Society”. In 1970, she wrote a 13-page manuscript describing the history of the CSLA, which is still familiar to landscape architecture students today. In 1983, she received the Ontario Associations of Landscape Architects’ Distinguished Achievement Award.
The Frances McLeod Blue Collections, which are held at the University of Guelph, include her personal art and photography and other records that relate to the development of the profession prior to 1975.
Drawing by Dorothy Clark McClure, Landscape Architectural Review, December, 1989.