Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site Management Plan (17 of 20)

V. 3 - Management Plan Guidelines

Cultural Landscape Integrity

The overarching goal of site management is to preserve the integrity of the cultural landscape. This is not a question of simply maintaining the site as is. As pointed out in the designation as a National Historic Site, the values of the Farm lie not only in its tangible resources but also in the more intangible and evolving quality of its research activities. Managing the cultural landscape means continually adjusting the balance between the physical resources of the site and the functional requirements of the research program. The situation today is complicated by other recent and proposed activities on site, which involve other agencies and other agendas, and which result in various types of public involvement. The Farm has had to become more self-conscious about its own history, and about its iconic value within Ottawa and within Canada.

Fortunately, the Farm was originally designed in a period when public involvement was expected, and encouraged. There was meant to be an interaction between the public, moving onto the site from east to west, and the research activity, building on the site from west to east. The public community and the research community were meant to meet and interact in the core. The problem in recent years has been a separation of these communities and a fragmentation of the site. But the basic elements of the cultural landscape are still in place, and there is now the potential to match the extraordinary qualities of the site with an equally powerful set of programmed uses. The choice of the Research Option as the basis for management planning sets the context for the future of the site.

As indicated in the background information, the original layout of the Farm created an extensive approach area along Prince of Wales Drive through the picturesque park landscape of the Arboretum. From here the public had access into the various core facilities. The key elements are still in place. It is important to protect this pattern of approach and enhance the experience through improved maintenance, judicious restoration and sensitive contemporary insertions. Rather than seeing the park-like area east of Prince of Wales as a separate public facility, unrelated to the research agenda of the Farm, it needs to be understood once again as the forecourt to the Farm, spilling across Prince of Wales into the core area. It is particularly important that Prince of Wales be a connecting element rather than a dividing element, by restoring the continuity of the landscape treatment across both sides of this corridor.

Within the core, the rich architectural traditions of the Farm are still on display, set within a mature landscape that retains much of its original detailing. The quality of these resources creates a landmark quality to the core area. The subtle variations in architectural style and landscape treatment reflect the different historic uses. The problem in this area is not so much a loss of physical fabric as it is a loss of identity. The area has become fragmented functionally. The relationships between the various compounds of research facilities, administrative offices, residential-style buildings, and barn complexes can be recovered and strengthened through programmatic changes and better coordination of facility use and access patterns. A few key new facilities can be introduced as long as the design and placement respects the historic patterns.

In terms of research, this activity is centred on the Neatby Building and the other research facilities extending down the western side of the core area. The architecture of these buildings is more functional, but equally appropriate to the setting. Historically, the landscape treatment as one moved from east to west through the core area became more ordered, shifting from the picturesque qualities of the Arboretum to the more ordered hedge rows and orchard plots of the north core, and eventually into the rectilinear field patterns. There was a matching transition in the architecture from the more picturesque to the more functional. Some of this quality still survives, and can be reinforced both in the landscape treatment and in the design of new research facilities. Facilities on the west side of the core and out into the field patterns can be a contemporary reinterpretation of high quality functional design. The field pattern itself will continue to evolve with changing research requirements, but its essential character of rural openness and agricultural order will continue to survive, and to provide an essential context for the rest of the Farm landscape.

The move of the headquarters function from the Sir John Carling building to the new Skyline complex will reinforce the original patterns in the landscape. The Skyline complex will provide a western anchor to the whole site, while providing a visual and functional separation between AAFC as a national organization and the Central Experimental Farm as a localized activity. The Sir John Carling site then becomes a logical place for the public to encounter the research community of the Farm and the research activities of AAFC more generally. It can mediate between the local and the national, by housing national collections, for example. CAPRI will further reinforce this pattern in the core area.

As indicated in the background notes to this report, a cultural landscape involves both physical and mental mapping. The integrity of a cultural landscape is ensured when these mappings reinforce each other and respect the historic patterns and cultural resources on site. In its current state, the physical and mental mappings of the Central Experimental Farm have a confused relationship to each other. With the Research Option as a new frame of reference, and appropriate management and redevelopment of parts of the site, this situation can improve significantly and the integrity of the cultural landscape can be assured.

Architectural Resources

Analysis: There is a wide variety of building type and architectural styles on the Farm. Nonetheless, there is a surprising sense of coherence, and of continuity between architecture and landscape. In the public mind, the character of the Farm buildings is set by a few key landmarks, including the Main Dairy Barn, the Cereal Barn, the Saunders Building, and some of the tudor-style and shingle style buildings on the north side of the NCC driveway. Most of these buildings are in the eastern part of the core area, near the traffic circle. Despite their differences, these buildings can all be considered part of a larger Arts and Crafts tradition which continued from the late 19th century through the first part of the 20th century. This tradition favoured natural materials, vigorous silhouettes, variations in surface treatments, and careful small-scale detail such as divided window lites and decorative brackets. The Dominion Observatory Building continues this pattern as a secondary focus at the north end of the core. Buildings further west in the core area tended to be more functional and simpler in style. The Sir John Carling Building is somewhat of an anomaly because of its later date, its larger scale, its isolated setting, and its somewhat severe proportions. Even here, however, the Minister of Agriculture insisted that the original glass and steel box be modified to introduce smaller-scale detail and a reference to traditional materials.

Guidelines: Most of the key buildings that establish the character of the Farm have been designated as Recognized or Classified buildings under the Federal Heritage Building program. They should be protected and enhanced under the guidelines established by the FHBRO Code of Practice.

When there are changes in use and occupancy, every effort should be made to find new uses which are compatible with the general size, configuration, and circulation patterns of the existing buildings.

If additions are required, they should be small enough to be secondary to the main composition.

At times of major repair or capital investment, key original features should be preserved; important missing elements should be restored, based on historical information; and new work should be contemporary but should reflect the form, materials and detailing of the original.

Groups of buildings which form traditional complexes on the site should have their similarities heightened, in terms of material, colour, detail and orientation.

The traditional relationship of the buildings to their landscape settings should be maintained, and, where inappropriate changes have occurred, should be restored. In the Arts and Crafts tradition, it is important to have a strong relationship with the soft landscape features, and to avoid separating the buildings with hard features such as fences and parking lots.

Buildings which have not been designated may still be an appropriate part of the cultural landscape and can be maintained. This is particularly true as one moves towards the western part of the core and into the field areas. There is more flexibility in making alterations, as long as the scale does not become inappropriate.

New buildings should be of appropriate scale and detail, and be properly sited in the landscape. They should reinforce both the physical and functional patterns of the cultural landscape. In the entry zone, new buildings should be limited to small pavilions in the landscape. In the eastern part of the core, the buildings should have more public uses and should reflect the Arts and Crafts tradition in their form, materials, and detailing. Buildings in the western part of the core and into the support zone may reflect research uses and be simpler and more functional in design. They should help reinforce the existing nodes.

The Sir John Carling Building is a modern addition which, like many modern buildings, was built with a limited life expectancy. It is near the end of its normal life cycle. It is also of a different scale, reflecting its different use as a headquarters facility. Redevelopment of this site is an opportunity to retain the spirit of the original building while adapting it to a more integrated core use. This would mean scaling a new building to relate more closely to its neighbours, and providing a function which ties together public and research activities on the site.

Landscape Resources

Arboretum and Plant Collections

Analysis: The collections of trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants provide the content and interest within the framework of the cultural landscape in the entry and core zones. The research and scientific values of these collections have been neglected over recent years and are in danger of being irrevocably lost. The care, cultivation, record-keeping, and interpretation that is the mandate of an arboretum or research collection requires expertise and staff resources that have not been available. Staff and volunteers have worked hard to maintain these collections but have not had the benefit of a comprehensive vision and rigorous methodology to guide their work.

Guidelines: The Arboretum and other plant collections should be subject to a strategic planning study to determine their role in the next fifty years of the Central Experimental Farm. Within the context of the reconfirmed research direction for the entire Farm, a renewal of the research mandate for the collections would be consistent and appropriate. There is educational and research value in the collections and future projects could address such topical subjects as sustainable urban forestry; disease resistant cultivars of maples, elms, and other important Canadian tree species; and drought tolerant trees for public parks and open spaces that are not irrigated.

Identification of funding and research partners should be a focus of strategic planning for the collections. Potential partners could come from academic departments at Carleton or other universities, from municipal or regional governments, and from private sector nursery trades, among others. With proper guidance and established research techniques, there will continue to be a major role for the Friends of the Farm, other stakeholder groups, and volunteers to contribute their energies and time to sustaining these very significant landscape resources and sharing the knowledge gained with the public in the spirit of the outreach that was part of the Central Experimental Farm's mandate. In addition to its historic and research values, the Arboretum should be managed to enhance its values as an important public open space for the City of Ottawa and as an environmentally significant area with grassland, forest, and wetland habitat areas. (Refer to sections on trees, shrubs, and lawn in the Design Guidelines for more information on specific management guidelines.)

Research Fields

Analysis: The intricate quilt of research fields within its structure of major and minor access roads and scattered support buildings is the largest and most coherent landscape resource within the Central Experimental Farm. The historic form of the Support Zone is resilient and allows for constant change of research species while retaining its overall landscape character.

Guidelines: The research direction established by the Management Plan should ensure the ongoing utilization of the fields in the Support Zone for scientific purposes. The Central Experimental Farm is uniquely positioned as a place to research field crops in proximity to urban development, a research topic of considerable importance itself as Canadian cities expand into their agricultural hinterlands. The major threat to the historic cultural landscape of the Support Zone is urban growth leading to pressure to widen roads and to modify their streetscapes to increasingly more urban treatments through and adjacent to the Farm. Generally, any proposed changes to roads affecting the cultural landscape of the Farm should be designed to enhance rather than damage landscape integrity (refer to the design guidelines for each road in the section on Streetscapes).

Agricultural Resources

Analysis: The historic premise for the Experimental Farms was to model all aspects of a well-appointed farm from fields for crops and barns for animals to ornamental gardens and shelterbelts. Under this wide umbrella definition, much of the cultural landscape can be considered to encompass agricultural resources. A number of the important agricultural buildings on site, including the Dairy Barn, are managed and interpreted to the public by the Canada Agriculture Museum. The Support Zone is the dominant agricultural resource and context for the Farm and is expected to be managed as crop fields with scattered support buildings into the foreseeable future.

Guidelines: The Museum has been given the role of preserving the agricultural resources in the Core Zone that do not have a research mandate, including buildings and livestock. Although they are displayed to the public for historic interest rather than to assist farmers in the development and management of their own farms, as in the past, they remain features that bring visitors to the Farm and sustain the mix of agricultural and research functions in close proximity to each other that is key to the character of this cultural landscape.

The Museum has prepared a Master Plan to guide its development plans. While retaining and animating the agricultural resources in the Core Zone has sustained the cultural integrity of the Farm, the Museum has, by necessity, altered circulation patterns for vehicles and pedestrians and introduced fences, parking, and signage that sets it apart from its context. The Museum should be encouraged to expand its outreach and exhibits and to tell the story of the Central Experimental Farm as a whole as part of its interpretive mandate. The Museum Master Plan should be reviewed in light of the present CEF Management Plan, including with regard to:

  • Its relationship to the NCC Driveway to support streetscape improvements that return this roadway to a more historic appearance and a more active pedestrian and social role. In particular, the frontage of the Dairy Barn should be redeveloped with more appropriate materials and resolution of parking and drop-off functions.
  • Adaptively reusing other buildings in the vicinity for Museum-managed uses, including the Seed Testing and Distribution Building, with attention to appropriate building conservation standards.
  • Directing the public to use parking lots on weekends that serve research building occupants during the week as a strategy to limit the need for new parking lots. The cultural landscape value of areas of open green lawn within the Museum should be recognized and not redeveloped as paved parking lots.
  • The potential for the Museum to become involved in the stewardship and interpretation of other resources in the farm that are currently in need of attention, including the Ornamental Gardens, the hedge and rose collections, the Arboretum, and agricultural support buildings of historic value but low research value.
  • Supporting the continued use of some buildings in the vicinity of the Museum for scientific research purposes and assisting in interpreting these research activities to the public.

Environmental Resources

The Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Central Experimental Farm is an Appendix to the Management Plan. It describes the existing environmental resources of the site in detail with reference to the City of Ottawa Natural and Open Space Study (NOSS) and the draft Official Plan. These reports identified the majority of the Farm as Open Space and several sub-zones of environmental significance within the area west of Prince of Wales Drive and the historic shelterbelt and a ditch west of Fisher Avenue. Areas with identified environmental resources include:

Central Experimental Farm Fields

The majority of the lands in the study area are fields representing 350 hectares of planted fields of agricultural cash crops and fallow agricultural land. This area is also dispersed with small ribbon woodlots of deciduous and coniferous tree species. One of these areas is known as the CEF Woods which is described below. The CEF Fields are characterized by seven general vegetation units of approximately 160 plant species and agricultural crop species. The largest vegetation unit is the network of experimental fields containing various crops such as corn, barley and wheat. The area hosts a variety of woody vegetation including: Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana), Nannyberry (Viburnum lentago), Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica), and Basswood (Tilia americana). The fields consists of many ground flora species including: Goldenrods (Solidago canandensis, Euthamia graminifolia), Asters (Aster novae-angliae, Aster cordifolius), Brome Grass (Bromus inermis), Timothy (Phlem pratense), Yellow Avens (Geum aleppicum var. strictum), Agrimony (Agrimony gryposepala), and Common Buttercup (Ranunculus acris). There are many wildlife species present including 4 mammal species, 27 bird species and 5 herpetofauna species. The livestock that is kept at the Canada Agriculture Museum include horses, beef and dairy cattle, and small barn animals. No significant features and/or species exist in this area.

A "Ditch" in the fields west of Fisher Avenue was given a Moderate Watercourse Value by the NOSS.

Central Experimental Farm (CEF) Woods

The CEF Woods is a natural wooded area located to the east of Fisher Avenue. The predominant tree species include: White Pine (Pinus strobus), Red Pine (Pinus resinosa), and Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris). Other woody vegetation includes Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), White Elm (Ulmus americana), and White Ash (Fraxinus americana). The ground vegetation includes various common weeds and grasses and includes mammals such as the ground hog, red fox, short-tailed weasel, as well as vole. The CEF Woods is home to over 100 species of birds. The area is considered to be of high value. No significant features and/or species exist in this area.

NOSS rates the CEF Woods as: Moderate Woodland Value, Low Environmental Value, Moderate Social Value, Low Recreational Linkage Value, and Moderate Feasibility.

The Arboretum

The Arboretum near Dow's Lake covers an area of approximately 14.3 hectares. This area is part of the Greenway System Corridor and includes several woodland areas, two watercourses referred to as the Rideau Canal Tributaries, a wetland near the Canal, and several gardens including the Fletcher Wildlife Garden. Views of the Central Experimental Farm, Fletcher Wildlife Gardens and the Rideau Canal are also identified. The Arboretum area displays a diverse range of mature trees and shrubs. Some of these trees and shrubs date back to 1889 and are among the largest specimens of their species in Canada. Many of these trees were imported from Europe, Asia, and the United States (www.agr.gc.ca). These trees provide large quantities of fruit and seeds for birds as well as nesting and shelter. The Arboretum area is characterized as a Pine-Maple-Ash Ornamental upland mixed plantation. Some of the species include: White Pine (Pinus strobes), White Spruce (Picea glauca), Norway Spruce (Picea abies), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), White Ash (Fraxinus Americana), along with a variety of indigenous and horticultural trees and shrubs.

The Arboretum and Ornamental Gardens area is also distinguished by its many grassy open space areas and variety of gardens, including the popular Macoun Gardens near the traffic circle. Some of the flora that can be found in these gardens include: 100 types of irises; 125 different lilac varieties; the Explorer series of roses, and many other plant species. The vegetation units in the area's open water wetland near the Rideau Canal include: Cattails (Typha angustifolia, Typha latifolia), Bur-reed (Sparganium spp.), Canada Bluejoint Grass (Calamagrostis canadensis), Broad-leaved Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia), Pondweeds (Potamogeton spp.), Canada Waterweed (Anacharis canadensis), Algae (Cladophora spp.), and Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis). There is a direct surface water connection between the wetland and the Rideau Canal. This area is home to several fish species including a variety of cyprinids (minnows), panfish, and some sportfish. The open water marsh habitat located off the Rideau Canal is considered locally rare.

The following mammal species have been observed in the Arboretum area: Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) - both colour phases, Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus), and Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus). The Arboretum area is also home to several mammals, reptiles and amphibians including: the American Toad (Bufo americanus), Northern Spring Peeper (Hyla crucifer), Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), and the Green Frog (Rana clamitans). Typical bird species have been observed in the area and include: American Robin (Turdus migratorius), Black-capped Chickadee (Parus atricapillus), American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchus), and American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis).

NOSS ratings for the Arboretum are: Moderate Woodland Value, Low Environmental Value, High Social Value, High Recreational Linkage Value, and High Feasibility. The wetland in the Arboretum/Canal area was ranked as Moderate Wetland Value. The two Rideau Canal tributaries in this area are ranked Moderate and Low Watercourse Value.

Carling Avenue Area

The Carling Avenue Area is located south of Carling Avenue and includes an area of approximately 5.26 hectares. This area is classified in NOSS as Open Space with Views of Significant Features. The area consists of a manicured lawn with mature trees along the west boundary and younger trees scattered throughout the site. There is no wildlife, fish habitat, nor significant features and/or species within this area. A former landfill site was at one time present in this area.

NOSS rates the environmental resources of the Carling Avenue Area as: Moderate Social Value, Moderate Recreational Linkage Value, and Moderate Feasibility.

The recommendations to protect the Arboretum, the wetland habitat next to the Canal, the Rideau Canal Tributaries, and the CEF Woods are also reflected in the Draft Official Plan (January 2003) with designations of major open space and Urban Natural Features as well as a specific "Central Experimental Farm" designation.

Guidelines: The environmental resources of the Central Experimental Farm should be managed with reference to the City of Ottawa's Official Plan and Natural and Open Space Study (NOSS). Specific strategies to improve and protect environmental values within the Central Experimental Farm include:

  • Ditches and swales within the Support Zone and along roadways should be considered as potential opportunities for enhancement of habitat values for birds and small animals.
  • Forested areas, including the shelterbelt, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and parts of the Arboretum with woodland understory, should be managed to enhance wildlife values where these efforts will not compromise historic landscape integrity.
  • The wildlife values of wetlands and streams adjacent to the Rideau Canal should be protected and enhanced.
  • Research into plants with environmentally sustainable values, including wildflower mixes and sources of bird seeds, should be encouraged as fulfilling the mandate and vision for Agriculture Canada.
    (Refer to the Design Guidelines for further information on vegetation management.)

Circulation and Transportation

Analysis: The Central Experimental Farm is well-served by roads and transit. Assessment of the levels of service on the roads indicate that some are reaching the limit of the desired engineered service levels for urban streets. The City of Ottawa has chosen to emphasize improvements to public transit over increased road capacity.

Important regional bikeway routes are located through the site on the NCC Driveway and Cow Lane. All roads and major pathways receive some cycling use.

Guidelines: The widening of roads, particularly parkways, through the Central Experimental Farm should be avoided. Replacement of rural streetscape character with curbs and concrete sidewalks is discouraged adjacent to field areas. (Refer to the Streetscape design guidelines for each roadway within the Management Plan area.)

Cycling use should be supported within the Central Experimental Farm by signage, traffic calming, and availability of bike racks. The installation of a traffic circle at the intersection of Prince of Wales and the road to the Hartwell Locks should be designed to facilitate bicycles crossing on the bike route in this location. Inline skating should be permitted where paths are already paved but changing path surfaces from gravel to asphalt to accommodate skating is not encouraged due to the impacts on the landscape character that would occur.

Public Access and Security

Analysis: There have been instances of conflict between the public using the Central Experimental Farm for recreational activities like walking, jogging, cycling, and dog walking and the research function of the field crops. As urban development continues to intensify around the Farm, it is inevitable that these conflicts will occur with increasing frequency.

Guidelines: The increasing levels of use by the public of the roadways through the Central Experimental Farm for dog walking, strolling, cycling, and jogging is compromising field-based research. Where such conflicts are occurring, consideration should be given to adding sections of fencing (refer to design guidelines for Fences). The signage strategy should clarify the boundaries for all public uses while providing the public with information that helps explain AAFC's position.

Security should be managed on a building by building basis where research and collections require a secure environment. Security guards in vehicles and on bicycles should also provide general surveillance. Where the preferred design of fences is not adequate to provide the desired level of security, use of security cameras or ha-has (ditches) with electronic sensors should be used rather that high fences or other visually inappropriate types of barriers.

Environmental and Scientific Presentation

The Central Experimental Farm offers visitors exceptional opportunities for increasing their understanding and awareness of science, rural life, and Canadian history. These opportunities may be provided by AAFC on its own, or in partnership with federal institutions such as NRCan, the Canada Agriculture Museum, the National Capital Commission and Parks Canada, or with private organizations such as the Friends of the Farm and the Ottawa Field-Naturalists Club (Fletcher Wildlife Garden).

Numerous scholarly, cultural and government organizations have called on governments at all levels to help increase the level of scientific literacy in Canada through better information and special programs. Footnote 9 The Central Experimental Farm offers one of the most ideal locations in Canada to undertake this type of programming. It is home to an active and ever-changing scientific program led by some of the Canada's most skilled and talented scientists; it is accessible to wide numbers of potential participants - tourists, convention attendees, local and national school groups, student bodies from two universities and a college-level horticulture program, visiting scholars, and government experts; and it contains the physical infrastructure needed to support diverse outreach programs and memorable experiences. A successful presentation program will emphasize connections between the work of the institutions operating on the site.

Programming Directions

Environmental, scientific and horticultural programs could draw on the following strengths of the Central Experimental Farm:

  • Expertise of ECORC (AAFC), headquarters (AAFC) and NRCan scientists and other staff
  • Expertise of horticulturalists and botanists, if professional staff numbers are increased to maintain the Arboretum and ornamental gardens as recommended in this plan
  • Access to land that could be integrated into an outreach program, such as the former Canal Field, above Hartwell Locks
  • Access to a significant and well-documented horticultural and arboreal collection
  • Co-programming opportunities with the Canada Agriculture Museum and Carleton University
  • Access to authentic scientific collections and records - ECORC, mycology, botany entomology and meteorology
  • Single-window view on the ways in which scientific research is targeted to improving productivity on Canadian farms.

Heritage Presentation

The heritage of the Central Experimental Farm resides in its history and contributions to Canadian science and farming, its overall design, its heritage buildings and its historic landscape elements. At present, the Canada Agriculture Museum provides the strongest heritage programming on the site. The Museum focuses its programming on the core mandate of the museum, which is to present the history of Canadian agriculture, and on the buildings and land which it occupies. The Friends of the Farm focuses on horticulture, with intermittent programming related to the history of the site.

The Commemorative Integrity Statement for the Central Experimental Farm National Historic Site describes "Messages of National Significance" that should be communicated at the CEF. In summary, these are:

  • the CEF is a distinctive cultural landscape
  • the CEF is a symbol, in the heart of the Nation's Capital, of the central role of agriculture in shaping the country
  • the CEF demonstrates dominant ideas about agriculture in the 19th century
  • the CEF has made important contributions to science
  • the CEF is rare example of a farm within a city
  • the CEF is a national historic site.

A message about the contributions of astronomy to the mapping and surveying of Canada in the 19th century could also be added. As in the case of Environmental and Scientific presentations, connections between research fields and between history and science, should be emphasized.

Programming Directions

Heritage programming could draw on the following strengths of the Central Experimental Farm:

  • The cultural resource interpretation skills of the Canada Agricultural Museum
  • On-site historic and contemporary scientific collections in botany, horticulture, entomology and mycology
  • The evidence it presents concerning the symbiotic relationship between research and farming practices over time
  • Access to a cultural landscape and its associated physical features - plants, gardens, paths and buildings - that present an unobstructed view to the interconnections between politics, science, nation-building and farming from the late 19th century to the present.

The governance structure for the management of the Central Experimental Farm will determine roles and responsibilities for heritage programming, which in turn, will determine the types of studies required.