Professor Ronald F. Williams (2022)

Ron Williams Receives the Governor General's Medal in Landscape Architecture at a Ceremony at Rideau Hall on January 24th, 2023

Photo credit: Sgt Mathieu St-Amour, Rideau Hall © BSGG, 2023

Ron Williams and Mary Simon

Mary Simon

Carolyn Woodland

Mary Simon






Ron WilliamsProfessor Ronald F. Williams Honoured with the 2022 Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture

The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) is pleased to announce that Professor Ron Williams, AAPQ, FCSLA, FRAIC, is the 2022 recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture.




"Over the course of a career spanning more than 50 years, Ron Williams has been at the forefront, both witness and protagonist, of questions about the place of design in landscape architecture. Through these questions, two positions were confronted. The first was based on the rich heritage of the history of the art of gardens and advocated the combination of contemporary culture, technology, and nature in the creation of meaningful spaces. According to the second, landscape architecture was essentially about creating functional, sustainable, healthy, and pleasant places to be. Ron Williams' work is forged at the intersection of these two positions, in a balance that is entirely consistent with his personality." 
- Isabelle Giasson, AAPQ, FCSLA
Jury Statement

Ron Williams, a Fellow of the CSLA and of the RAIC, winner of a CSLA Lifetime Achievement Award and Order of Canada (2018) is a pioneer of the contemporary landscape architecture profession and epitomizes the spirit of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture: honouring exceptional landscape architects whose lifetime achievements and contributions to the profession have had a unique and lasting impact on Canadian society. 

A leader, an academic, a practitioner, an author, a researcher, an advocate: Ron Williams has had a significant national impact in every facet of his 50+-year career. Most notably, he authored THE authoritative work on landscape architecture in Canada, which tells the story of the growth, the role and the impact of the profession. Landscape Architecture in Canada, published in English and in French, is a sweeping record that raises the profile of the profession. He helped develop the landscape architecture program at the University of Montreal, became a beloved professor, applied rigorous research standards to his own work, and built a nationally recognized repertoire of work as a founding partner of WAA (Williams, Asselin Ackaoui and Associates). In addition, he participated in many of WAA’s award-winning projects including: the Montreal Beach Park on Ile Notre-Dame; the Biodôme de Montréal; the Jardin de l’Espace Saint-Roch; and the rehabilitation of avenue Honoré-Mercier in Quebec City.

"Canadian identity can be expressed through our urban landscape and our experience of that landscape as citizens -- especially when we visit Ottawa. Many of Ron’s projects have succeeded in part because Ron is tireless in his advocacy for better, more intellectually and aesthetically considered projects -- simply because he felt that more could and should be done. His standards to make the Canadian urban landscape the best it could absolutely be exceptional, demanding and pursued with tireless energy and passion." - Moura Quayle, FCSLA, FCELA, D.Hons, Vice-Provost, Associate Vice-President Academic Affairs, UBC. Professor, School of Public Policy and Global Affairs


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About Ronald Williams

A long-time professor and director at the School of Landscape Architecture of the Université de Montréal, landscape architect and architect Ron Williams graduated from McGill University in architecture (1964) and the Sorbonne (Diplôme de civilisation française, 1965). During the late 1960s and 1970s, he worked in Montreal with John Schreiber, architect and landscape architect, as an employee and a partner. From 1970 to 1972, he studied landscape architecture at the University of California, Berkeley (MLA). 

In 1987, he co-founded the Montreal landscape architecture/ urban design firm WAA (Williams, Asselin, Ackaoui and associates) along with partners Vincent Asselin, Malaka Ackaoui, and Sachi Williams. He participated in many of WAA’s award-winning projects including the Montreal Beach Park on Ile Notre-Dame; the Biodôme de Montréal; and the Jardin de l’Espace Saint-Roch and the rehabilitation of avenue Honoré-Mercier in Quebec City. 

Mr. Williams is a Fellow of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) and of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) and won the Lifetime Achievement Award of the CSLA in 2007. His book Landscape Architecture in Canada was published in 2014 by McGill-Queen’s University Press and the Presses de l’Université de Montréal in English and French versions. Following its publication, he embarked on a nation-wide lecture tour sponsored by the CSLA. He continues to lecture regularly at colleges, garden clubs, historical societies and universities across Canada, and in the United States and China. In July 2018, Mr. Williams was appointed to membership in the Order of Canada.

The recognition that Ron Williams undoubtedly enjoys is based on the three lines of work and action that he has cultivated during his career:

The Practitioner

Ron Williams has been applying his skills and rigor, his considerable knowledge, his sense of professional collaboration and his ethical values to the collective experience of places and landscapes since the 1960s. Working from the outset on the planning of the site of the Montreal World and the design of several pavilions - including the Atlantic Provinces Pavilion and the Children's World - he collaborated with professionals from around the world on projects that were significant to the advancement of the profession.

Later, in partnership with John Schreiber, he lent his talent to several major projects in downtown Montreal, including the Guy-Favreau Complex, and to the planning of the Mirabel airport site. His redevelopment project for the historic Champ-de-Mars site will mark the beginning of a movement to enhance many sites in the historic district of Old Montreal. The firm was remarkably successful at a time when there were few local offices. During the 1980s, Ron Williams signed several projects for civic spaces adjacent to the new business complexes in downtown Montreal. These and other projects in the metropolitan area earned him awards and widespread recognition for the exemplary nature of his work, based on both design and fine execution and implementation.

Having founded Williams Asselin Ackaoui with his three associates, he will carry out several landmark projects that will make WAA, to this day, one of the most reputable firms in Canada. The development of a robust international practice will be, from the beginning of the 2000's until today, one of the firm's distinctive marks. Being based on excellence, such growth is always an inspiration and an invitation to push the geographical limits of professional practice.

The Educator

As one of the first faculty members of the University of Montreal's Landscape Architecture program, Ron Williams has trained and inspired dozens of generations of graduates. His involvement in the development of the program during and after the establishment of the School of Landscape Architecture in 1978, the consensual leadership and skill with which he directed the School in its early years and during two other terms, the quality and rigor of his teaching, his keen sense of pedagogy, and his caring involvement in student learning have all contributed to the success of the School and its graduates. By sharing the fruits of his professional experience in his teaching, he has been able to bridge in an exemplary manner the gap between theory (through his inexhaustible knowledge), research and practice (through the excellence of his know-how), between design, history, culture and environment.

The Author

During his career as a professor, Ron Williams has written extensively and lectured extensively at academic, professional, and cultural events. However, his most significant contribution to the thinking and history of landscape architecture is the book he has been diligently writing over fourteen years of research. "Landscape Architecture of Canada" chronicles the evolution of landscape architectural thought and practice in changing geographical, historical, and cultural contexts. The result of a colossal effort, the book has been enthusiastically received, enjoys considerable critical acclaim, and is now an essential reference book for professionals from multiple disciplines, academics, public policy makers, and all those interested in the Canadian living environment.

"This book, based on years of detailed and exemplary research, presents much more than a history of our growing profession and its contributions, it also documents and celebrates the evolution of landscape within the Canadian context – following our progress from the landscapes of our First Nations, through the birth of a young and ambitious country striving through a complex journey to create a country of which every Canadian can now be immensely proud. As Ron tells this story, because it is a story, we can understand where we have been and how our history has contributed to where we are going as a nation and as a people." - Colleen Mercer Clarke, M.Sc., M.L.A., PhD., APALA, FCSLA


Selected Projects
Atlantic Provinces Pavilion

Parc de la Francophonie 

Parc Plage (Beach Park), Ile Notre-Dame, Montreal
LE BIODÔME, Montréal

Rehabilitation of Major's Hill Park, Ottawa

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