A Walk in the Park: Optimism in Science through the Central Experimental Farm

A Walk in the Park will consider how the buildings and landscapes express the optimism in Science during the development of the Central Experimental Farm from 1884, to signs of the neglect of science in time of climate crises, 2022.

We'll begin with a consideration of the Dominion Observatory buildimgs:  Why did the government need an Observatory at the Farm?  We will also consider the style of the buildings in this group, and how they have changed over tiime.   Are there signs that the science the farm was founded on is less important to us today?  

The scientific buildings are lined up on the other side of Maple Drive.  Again, the style of the buildings says something about their age and their purpose.  Research is still being done in the greenhouses.   The "forest of vents” on the KW Neatby building betrays the presence of over 100 laboratories.   The Neatby building is home to Canadian National Collection of insects, arachnids and nematodes . Managing bugs, both pests and pollinators, is a key part of agricultural research. 

The walk will pass hundreds of irreplaceable trees and other habitats that are currently being destroyed on fifty-three acres of the Experimental Farm and Queen Juliana Park designated for the new Civic Hospital.  For information about that situation, see Reimagine Ottawa and Greenspace Alliance.

This is the second of three walks focused on the Experimental Farm.  Make a day of it by signing up for the walks at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden starting at 12:30 pm and  on The Fate of Nature in a Building Site starting at 3:45 pm.

We'll meet near the Observatory just south of Carling off Maple Drive.   From there, we will move through green space parallel to Maple Drive, pointing out the Poultry building (34), Bee building (26), and hear about eggs to England in wartime and bees spending winter in basement.

We will emerge at the green houses and Saunders Building, having passed the Historic shrub collection useful for farmers needing fences.  Saunders Building is on site of former elegant home, and near trees that W. Saunders planted.  It is also home to Herbarium third largest in country, which was once asked to identify grasses in a murder case.  From there, we will walk down slight incline of green space noticing the trees of Arboretum across Prince of Wales to Dow’s Lake and Queen Juliana Park, where an immense Parkade is planned as mentioned from the Ridge at start of walk.  Note the site of springTulip Festival, Summer boat rentals and Winter skating.  The walk will end near Dow's Lake Pavilion.


About a fifth of the walk is on pavement; the rest is across the lawns.  We will move at a leisurely pace and stop to talk about various buildings and trees along the way.

Participants should wear good walking or hiking shoes. You may wish to bring a camera, notebook, and eco-friendly water bottle.


Please review our covid guidelines before attending a walk.
Map showing location of public washrooms at the Experimental Farm. 
About the walk leader

Chris White is a community radio host, festival organizer, songwriter, song leader, and tree lover who loves connecting people with one another.  He has spent a lot of time at the Experimental Farm in the past year learning about its unique history and many special features from the Algonquin title holders and the researchers at Reimagine Ottawa.


Hilda Bleyer lives near the Experimental Farm and has extensive knowledge of its many special features.


Chris White and Hilda Bleyer

Date:Sun May 8, 2022
Time:2:30 PM
Duration: 1 hour
Language: English
Start:near the old Dominion Observatory – 1 Observatory Cres.
End:Dow's Lake Pavilion
Area:Experimental Farm
Distance:2.0 kms

We can adapt the route for wheelchair-accessibility if required.

Experimental Farm--Tropical Greenhouse Experimental Farm--Building #59
Volunteer to Marshal This Walk