Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

C. Grant Head

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


There are twenty-eight formal Ontario Heritage Act “heritage conservation districts” currently in place in Ontario. Though some of these are now more than a decade old, little is known about how they have functioned. This study outlines the social and economic context out of which the Ontario Heritage Act was created and then examines a sample of four heritage conservation districts, including reviews of the district plans, field examinations of each district and interviews with the district administrators. The Ontario Heritage Act originated as a reaction to the 19705 "bull-dozer” approach to urban development and was intended to allow for a more balanced approach to development. A comparison of the present—day landscape of each district with that at the time of designation reveals that the four sample districts appear to have achieved this balance. None have seen extreme modernization on one hand, nor have any become an artificial "Upper Canada" or "Black Creek Pioneer" Village on the other. All of the districts have encountered changes, the most common of which involved sign installation, alterations/additions to buildings, restoration, infill development and new construction. These do not appear to have altered the landscape of the districts in manners inconsistent with the intent of their plans. Heritage district designation thus appears to have been effective.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season