The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada and Parks Canada Designate Frederick Gage Todd as a National Historic Person
About Frederick Gage Todd
Frederick Gage Todd (March 11, 1876 - February 15, 1948) was a Montreal-based landscape architect who is largely credited with being Canada’s first landscape architect. His work has had an important impact on the Canadian landscape, and on the profession of landscape architecture in Canada. His influence has marked the Canadian landscape from coast to coast. Many of his projects can still be viewed across the nation today, from Vancouver to St. John’s, demonstrating how Todd’s designs were visionary for their time:
Born in New Hampshire in 1876, Todd was educated at the Massachusetts Agricultural College in Amherst. In 1896, at the age of twenty, he became an apprentice landscape architect with the prestigious firm of Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot in Brookline, Massachusetts until 1900, when he moved to Montreal to supervise work on Mount Royal Park, one of the greatest of the Olmsted parks.
He eventually established a landscape architecture firm in Montreal, recognized as the first in Canada. Among his first commissions, in 1903, he prepared a report on the growth of the nation’s capital for the Ottawa Improvement Commission. Other projects included: designing major garden city projects, including Shaughnessy Heights and Point Grey in Vancouver, Port Mann on the Fraser River, Parc des Champs de Bataille in Québec City; developing site plans and designs for Trinity College in Toronto, and restoring Ile Sainte-Hélène in Montreal (1929-1938). Todd also developed the model city plan for the town of Mount Royal in Montreal. Between 1945 and 1948 he initiated plans and supervised construction of the Garden of the Way of the Cross adjacent to St. Joseph's Oratory, also in Montreal.
During this time, though, his work was not limited to large-scale projects. He designed a number of private gardens and institutional grounds, and prepared and implemented plans for many important urban parks between 1913 and 1938 including: Battlefield Park in Quebec City (1909–1912), Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park (1904–1906) and Tuxedo Park (1906-1908), Victoria Park in Regina (1907), Wascana Park in Regina (1905), Bowring Park in St. John’s, Newfoundland (1912–1914), various city parks in the southwest Ontario cities such as Cambridge and Stratford (1904–1905), and the provincial legislature grounds in both Regina and Edmonton (1907–1910).
He was very active in professional associations, as well. He was a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, president of the Québec Horticultural Society, Vice-President of the City Improvement League of Montreal, and President of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (which was then known as the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and Town Planners).
He served as a member of the Montreal City Council (1940–1948) representing the Civic Improvement League and helped shape policy that in turn shaped Montreal as a city. On February 15, 1948 he died in Montreal at the age of 71.
The breadth of Todd’s influence, the wisdom of his proposals and the clarity of his foresight are exemplified by the fact that most of his work – and that of his successors – now forms an accepted part of Canada’s fabric. For example, the driveway system used in Ottawa, the concept of Gatineau Park, the importance of the waterways, and the symbolism of Parliament Hill were first put forward by Frederick G. Todd. One of the most defining points of his efforts as a designer was how he popularized naturalistic designs and promoted the idea of open space in urban areas – concepts which are still evident, relevant and in use today.
Asselin, Vincent (1995) Frederick G. Todd, architecte paysagiste: une pratique de l'aménagement ancrée dans son époque 1900-1948. Université de Montréal, 198 p.
Blanchert, Danielle (1987) Le parc des Champs de Bataille Nationaux à Québec: une histoire semée d'embûches. Landscape Architectural Review 8(1): 21-26
Brown, R. (1912). Notes from Montreal, Canada. British Architect Dec 20, 1912, 424.
Collins, John B (1993) An innovative lamp-post design of 1916 a fine example of urban heritage in Ottawa. Canadian Journal of Civil Engineering 20(5):736-740.
Corboz, André (2000) Ville Mont-Royal, cité-jardin vitruvienne. Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada 25(2-4): 3-16.
Goodspeed, Rhona (2007) Saskatchewan Legislative Building and Grounds. Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada 32(1) 61-88.
Gordon, David L.A. (2002) Frederick G. Todd and the Origins of the Park System in Canada’s Capital. Journal of Planning History 1(1): 29-59.
Gordon, David L.A. and Osborne, Brian S (2004) Constructing national identity in Canada's capital, 1900–2000: Confederation Square and the National War Memorial. Journal of Historical Geography 30(4): 618-642.
Hillis, Ken (1992) A History of Commissions: Threads of An Ottawa Planning History. Urban History Review 21(1): 46-60.
Jacobs, Peter (1983) Frederick G. Todd and the Creation of Canada’s Urban Landscape, Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology 15(4) 27-34.
Lawliss, Lucy; Loughlin, Caroline; Meier, Lauren (2008) The Master List of Design Projects of the Olmsted Firm, 1857-1979, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: National Association for Olmsted Parks: National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site. 347 p.
McCann, L.D. (2010) Planning and building the corporate suburb of Mount Royal, 1910-1925. Planning Perspectives 11(3): 259-301.
Obituary. Frederick G Todd: Landscape Architect Adapted Natural Beauty. The Globe and Mail (1936- Current); Toronto, Ont. [Toronto, Ont] 17 Feb 1948: 7.
Oxford Dictionary of Architecture, 3rd edition (2015). “Todd, Frederick G. (1876–1948)”
Pollock-Ellwand, Nancy (2001) Gréber's Plan and the “Washington of the North”: Finding a Canadian Capital in the Face of Republican Dreams. Landscape Journal 20(1): 48-61.
Pollock-Ellwand, Nancy (2017): The prolific interpreter of the Olmsted vision: Frederick G. Todd, Canada’s first landscape architect. Planning Perspectives, 25p. DOI:10.1080/02665433.2017.1389658
Racine, François (2014) Émergence de la pratique de design urbain à Montréal: entre urbanisation traditionnelle et composition savante, le cas de la Ville de Mont-Royal de 1912 à 2014. Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada 39(2): 33-51.
Rees, R (1983) Wascana Centre: A Metaphor for Prairie Development. Journal of Garden History (UK) 3(3) : 219-232.
Todd, Frederick G (1903) Preliminary report to the Ottawa Improvement Commission. Montreal: Herald Press. Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, 1998. CIHM 97444.
Todd, Frederick G (192?) Esthetic forestry [microform]. Ottawa: Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions, 1999. CIHM/ICMH collection de microfiches; no. 97309
Todhunter, Rodger A. (1985) Preservation, parks and the vice-royalty Lord Dufferin and Lord Grey in Canada. Landscape Planning 12(2): 141-160.
Valen, Dustin (2015) Citizens, protect your property: perspectives on public health, nationalism, and class in St. John's Bowring Park, 1911-1930. Journal of the Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada 40(2): 43-55
Williams, Ron (2014) Landscape Architecture in Canada. Kingston and Montreal, McGill-Queen's University Press.
Wright, Frederick (1938) Historic Saint Helen's Island park [Montreal, Que.], designed by Frederick G. Todd. Municipal Review of Canada 1938(09): 14-20.
Ulmer, Catherine (2017) Of crossings, conduits, networks and channels: the circulation of foreign planning innovations within English Canada, 1900-1914. Urban History 44(4) : 678-697. doi:10.1017/S0963926816000705
Archives of Todd’s Work
Selected List of Todd’s Projects (date) and Location
(1900-04) ANGUS Esq. R.B., Montréal, Québec, Director CPR.
(1900-04) CLARK C.M. Esq. Manchester, Vt. USA, Philadelphia Estate,
(1900-04) FULFORD, Hon. G.T., Brockville, Canada
(1900-04) GARDNER, Esq, James, Montréal, Québec
(1900-04) Manoir Richelieu, Murray Bay, Québec
(1900-04) NICHOLLS, Esq., Frederick, Toronto, Ontario, General Manager Canada Foundry Co.
(1900-04) ROSS Esq., James, Montréal, Québec, President Dominion Coal Company
(1900-04) ROYAL VICTORIA HOSPITAL, Montréal, Québec
(1900-04) WALKER, W.B. Esq., Manchester, Mass. USA
(1900-04) City of Westmount, Westmount, Québec
(1902) H.L.J. FORGET (Bois-de-la-Roche), Senneville, Québec
(1903) CLOUSTON Esq., E.S. Montréal, Québec, General Manager Bank of Mtl.
(1902) Point de Vue, parc du Mont-Royal, Montréal, Québec
(1902) Victoria Park, Sherbrooke, Québec
(1903) Dominion Government, Ottawa, Ontario
(1904) Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba
(1904) Stratford, Ontario
(1905) Victoria Park, Galt, Ontario
(1905) Soper Park, Galt, Ontario
(1905) Dickson Park, Galt, Ontario
(1905) Centennial Park, Galt, Ontario
(1906) Carré Strathcona, Sherbrooke, Québec
(1906) Kingston, Ontario
(1907) Galt, Ontario
(1907) Victoria Park, Saskatchewan
(1907) Wascana Park, Saskatchewan
(1909) Champs de Bataille, Québec
(1909) Tuxedo Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba
(1909) Port Arthur, Current River Park, Ontario
(1911) Bellevue Park, Sault-Ste-Marie, Ontario
(1912) Champ de Mars, Montréal Québec
(1913) Bowring Park, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
(1928) Ile Sainte-Hélène, Montréal, Québec
(1935) Mont-Royal, Montréal, Québec
(1936) Mont-Royal, Lac des castors, Montréal, Québec
(1938) Parc Maisonneuve, Montréal, Québec
(1938) Parc Sauvé, Valleyfield, Québec
(190?) Riverside Park, Cambridge, Ontario
(1947) Granby Memorial Park, Granby, Québec