Every Plan Canada issue features a special section, “The Fellows’ Corner,” which is written by a member of CIP’s College of Fellows. Our most recent Fellows’ Corner, featured in the Winter 2021 issue of Plan Canada and written by John Steil RPP, FCIP, takes a look at the history of CIP by examining the Institute’s Presidents from it’s founding through to the present. John has also collected biographical information and photos for all 65 of CIP’s Presidents, dating all the way back to 1919. All this information is now available in the interactive timeline featured on our website.

Every Plan Canada issue has an open call for submissions. You can find all the information you need to submit an article, including our upcoming themes for 2022 and deadlines for each issue, on our Plan Canada page.

Read the Winter 2021 issue as well as all past issues in the CPL HUB.

Winter 2021 Plan Canada Fellows’ Corner: The TPIC/CIP Presidents

By John Steil RPP, FCIP

Successful organizations need leadership and neither the Town Planning Institute of Canada (TPIC) nor its successor, the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP), are exceptions. We should recognize and remember those planners, and others, that made significant volunteer contributions through their leadership of our organization. There are strong parallels between which planners have been selected to lead the organization and the development of the profession in Canada, as well as how our organization reflects changing societal context. The history of TPIC/CIP leadership can be best understood through different historical periods of our evolution as a profession.

The pioneers: 1919-1931

The early Presidents – from the formative years until the Dirty Thirties when the Institute went into hiatus – are fascinating. Planning was new. It was not a recognized profession and there were no planning schools, so full membership was originally restricted to accredited practitioners from architecture, engineering, surveying, or landscape architecture. Therefore, leadership came from those professions closest to what is now perceived as planning, those related to city and rural planning – disciplines with which we still typically collaborate. The nine Presidents of this period included four engineers, two architects, two surveyors, and a landscape architect. The majority came from ‘elsewhere’: four from Scotland; one each from England and France. Oh – and they were all white men.

Thomas Adams: A chartered surveyor and early leader of the English garden city planning movement, he played a huge role in organizing the planning institutes in Britain, United States, and then Canada.

Edouard Deville: Born in France, Canada’s Surveyor General perfected the first practical method of photogrammetry, introducing it for mapping the Canadian Rockies and showing it to the world at the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893.

James Hynes: The first Canadian-born (in 1868) President was a prominent architect noted for the heritage-designated Hotel Victoria on Yonge Street, Toronto.

Noulan Cauchon: Quebec-born, his early career was as a railway engineer but he developed a career as an internationally recognized planner.

James Ewing: The Scot came to Canada in 1885 to work for the CPR, then established an engineering firm, but died in Montreal during his term as President of TPIC.

Horace Seymour: He enjoyed a diverse career, from planning with Adams during reconstruction after the Halifax WWI explosion to serving as planning engineer for the Vancouver Town Planning Commission, to becoming provincial Town Planning Director for Alberta.

Frank Buck: From England, he was initially a newspaper editor, but with a landscaping practice, had a long career as UBC’s landscape architect.

Percy Nobbs: Scottish-born, he moved to McGill University as Macdonald Chair of Architecture where he was Director, continuing as professor of design until 1940 while maintaining a private practice.

Arthur Dalzell: Another Scot, he moved to Vancouver as assistant city engineer and was then appointed assistant to Thomas Adams as town planning adviser to the federal government. Unfortunately, he was the last president before TPIC suspended its operations for the next two decades due to the onset of the Great Depression and World War II.

They made a mark: Adams, Deville, and Nobbs have been designated by the Canadian Government as three of 725 National Historic Persons in Canadian history. Deville has a peak in the Rocky Mountains, between Golden and Lake Louise, named in his honour.

Restart: 1952-1965

It picks up where it left off. Aimé Cousineau, the first President of the restarted TPIC, was a hydraulic engineer, then sanitary engineer for Montreal and, after studies in public health at MIT and Harvard, was named city planning director. Next was Eric Thrift, an architect with a diverse practice and teaching career, President of the American Society of Planning Officials (now APA), and a Fellow of both TPIC and RAIC. He was followed by a series of planners and educators trained as architects, engineers, geographers, and surveyors, including several from abroad, like Eugene Faludi, Murray Zides FCIP and Humphrey Carver FCIP and many others, such as Anthony Adamson, P. Alan Deacon, Al Martin, Stanley Nash FCIP (who fought at Vimy Ridge), Don South, and Earl Levin FCIP. This was a period of significant growth in planning in Canada. These Presidents made plans, founded schools and organizations, and wrote books. The last President of this period was James Milner. A University of Toronto law professor, he never practised as a planner, but had a significant impact on planning in Canada through his teaching and definitive planning law textbook. The City of Toronto named a parkette in downtown Toronto after him.

Advancement of the profession: 1966-1979

Like Milner, the next two Presidents also had parks named after them: Benoit Begin in Trois-Rivières and Macklin Hancock FCIP in Don Mills, Toronto. But significantly, they were the first of the Presidents who, although trained in landscape and architecture, also gained formal planning education. They were followed by a group with a mix of qualifications and origins such as chartered surveyors that also included the first Presidents having graduated from Canadian planning schools such as Andy Campbell and Mark Dorfman FCIP.

Beginning of gender diversity: 1979-1984

Anne Beaumont FCIP – from Wales but a graduate of U of T planning – was the first female president of the Canadian Institute of Planners. She was followed by Graham Stallard, Peter Weston and Barry Clark. Interesting to note, 1983 saw the election of the first female Fellow, Mary Rawson. Five years after Anne, Pamela Sweet FCIP became the second female CIP President.

Stabilization and a gradual shift: 1985 to now

This next period is a logical evolution and stabilization of planning in Canada and the professional planning organization. Most Presidents were trained as planners in Canadian planning schools. Men dominated the presidency in the early periods, but as the profession has been on a long-term transition from practice based in physical design to one more rooted in policy and consultation, this period finally saw a significant increase in the numbers of female presidents, including Helen Henderson, Barb Dembeck, Marni Cappe FCIP, Andrea Gabor FCIP, Hazel Christy, and Eleanor Mohammed. Occasionally, there is a President with a face of a different colour. Presidents in this period are mostly practitioners, trained in Canada, often from a mix of the public and private sectors, and some academics.


Recent Presidents may not have mountains named after them, but planners can still make a difference. (On the other hand, Peter Bloodoff, a more recent President, has the square in front of the Prince George Courthouse named after him because of his community contribution.) The TPIC/CIP presidency has evolved from non-planners with a vision to professional planners who are trained in the field and lead a recognized, institutionalized profession that helps to design our urban and rural communities. Over time, the leaders of the profession will more closely reflect the changing nature of planning as well as the diversity of planners in the field and of the communities they represent. Looking through yet another lens, the geographic distribution of Presidents is consistent with the distribution of our members, with the largest number coming from Ontario, Anne Beaumont, first female CIP President, 1979. Pamela Sweet, second female CIP President, 1984. accordingly. However, while Quebec played a key role early on, only one President since 1966 has come from that province: Franceborn Patrick Déoux, who worked in both Quebec and Ontario during his term, before completing his career in BC. No president has been from New Brunswick since 1960 nor from Saskatchewan since 1976. Planners from Prince Edward Island, and the three northern territories, have not yet held the President’s gavel but, hopefully, will have the chance to do so in the future.

About the Author

John Steil RPP, FCIP, is a planner with Stantec Consulting in Vancouver. He is a former CIP President (1989- 1990) and a past Chair of the College of Fellows.

Access the entirety of the Winter 2021 issue of Plan Canada as well as all past issues in the CIP Professional Learning Hub