Cultural Landscapes in Canada’s Capital Region

It is not only buildings and archaeology that link us to the past. The landscape — especially in a country as immense as Canada — also plays its part in reflecting human history, capturing the relationship between humans and the environment. The notion of “cultural landscape” allows us to move heritage conservation beyond buildings and historic sites.

Definition of a Cultural Landscape

A cultural landscape is defined by the NCC as “a set of ideas and practices, embedded in a place. This definition is used to capture the relationship between the intangible and tangible qualities of these sites.” (Definition and Assessment of Cultural Landscapes of Heritage Value on NCC Lands, 2004)

Cultural landscapes have special relevance to the NCC, which manages landscapes, parks, sites and broad expanses of land with historical importance. In its 2004 report on cultural landscapes, the NCC defined how the concept of cultural landscapes applies to the land it manages. It also developed criteria and a process for identifying and assessing cultural landscapes throughout Canada’s Capital Region.

A Selection of Cultural Landscapes

The many cultural landscapes in Canada’s Capital Region illustrate the very different ways in which occupants have shaped their physical environment. Here are a few examples:

Large-scale cultural landscapes:

  • The capital’s parkway system — it represents a fine and irreplaceable example of parkway design as an element of urban planning in the mid-1900s.

Medium-scale cultural landscapes:

Small-scale cultural landscapes: