Over the last 30 years, the Glen Abbey property has come to define the character of the Oakville community. While most widely recognized for its role in Canadian golf and the home of the Canadian Open, the 92.7-hectare (229-acre) property has a diverse past that contributes to its cultural heritage. Its lands were home to Indigenous peoples recognized under the 1763 Royal Proclamation. Beginning in 1795, treaties with the British resulted in new settlements on the lands beside Sixteen Mile Creek, notably farms and a sawmill. In the early 20th century, the current property was first consolidated as the private RayDor estate. It then became a 1950s Jesuit religious retreat, and a 1960s golf course country and ski club. Its current form is dominated by the 1970s vision to design the lands to provide an innovative hub and spoke, spectator-friendly golf course for both recreational and championship use.
On December 17, 2018, the town was served with an application by ClubLink to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to quash the Heritage Designation By-law 2017-138, designating the Glen Abbey Golf Course as a property of cultural heritage value or interest pursuant to the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act. The town will be opposing this application. No dates have been set for this proceeding.
On December 20, 2017, Council officially designated the Glen Abbey Golf Course as a property of cultural heritage value or interest. In simple terms, a Cultural Heritage Landscape is “a defined geographical area that may have been modified by human activity and is identified as having cultural heritage value or interest by a community….” (Provincial Policy Statement 2014)
There could be no more apt description for Glen Abbey.
According to the provisions of the Ontario Heritage Act, to qualify for designation as a Cultural Heritage Landscape a site must exemplify one or more of the following:
Designed in 1976 by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, Glen Abbey is one of Canada’s most famous golf courses. Glen Abbey was Canada’s first and one of the first courses in the world built for spectators, thanks to its combined stadium design with a hub-and-spoke layout. Both design features have influenced golf course design around the globe.
Other design highlights:
Ask Oakville residents what comes to mind when they think of Glen Abbey and they’ll likely tell you about its long tenure as host of the Canadian Open. From 1977 through 2017, Glen Abbey has hosted the Open a record 29 times. The course has become directly associated with Hall of Fame winners of the tournament, including Tiger Woods' and his dramatic shot on the 18th hole during the 2000 Canadian Open. Other highlights include:
Glen Abbey is a landmark within Oakville - and across Canada. The quality of the course and its connection to the Canadian Open, have defined the character of the Oakville community and given it a distinct place in Toronto and beyond. Over the years, the property has preserved its authenticity and integrity, continuing to host championship and recreational golf and retaining the features that reflect Nicklaus’ original vision. In addition, the area seamlessly connects the sporting culture of the golf course, the open space of the parklands and surrounding residential neighbourhoods.
Visually, the biggest features of this beautiful designed landscape are its memorable views and vistas including the:
On August 21, 2017, the Town of Oakville issued a Notice of Intention to Designate the Glen Abbey lands as a Cultural Heritage Landscape. In simple terms, a Cultural Heritage Landscape is “a defined geographical area that may have been modified by human activity and is identified as having cultural heritage value or interest by a community….” (Provincial Policy Statement 2014).
In September, Pacific Life Insurance Company, which holds a mortgage on the property, filed an objection to the town’s Notice of Intention to Designate. The Conservation Review Board will conduct a pre-hearing conference on this objection at 10:30 am on December 20, 2017 at Town Hall.
The Conservation Review Board Pre-hearing Conference on the objection to the town’s Notice of Intention to Designate filed by Pacific Life Insurance has been cancelled as Pacific Life has withdrawn its objection. Review the withdrawal acknowledgement letter pdf.
Council voted unanimously to pass By-Law 2017-138, a by-law to designate the Glen Abbey Golf Course as a property of cultural heritage value or interest. Read the news release.
For more details on the town’s cultural heritage landscape strategy, visit our Cultural Heritage Landscape Strategy page.
On January 30, 2018 Oakville Council approved additional planning and conservation measures designed to conserve the cultural heritage value and attributes of the Glen Abbey Golf Course. Read the news release.
ClubLink has filed a Notice of Application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice appealing Council’s approval of the Cultural Heritage Landscape Conservation Plan By-law 2018-019, the Ontario Heritage Act Delegation Powers By-law 2018-020, the Cultural Heritage Landscape Conservation Plan for the Glen Abbey Property and Council’s resolution to endorse proposed amendments to Site Alteration By-law 2003-021, the Private Tree Protection By-law 2017-038, and the Property Standards By-law 2017-007. The decision issued by Justice Morgan of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice quashed the town’s Cultural Heritage Landscape Conservation Plan for Glen Abbey and the associated by-laws. Staff is reviewing the decision and will report to Council early in the new year on potential next steps.
The two planning amendments approved by Council, By-law 2018-015 that adopts Official Plan Amendment 24, and Zoning By-law Amendment 2018-016, were appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board (now Local Planning Appeal Tribunal) by ClubLink. The hearing on this case has been scheduled for eight days, beginning on June 17, 2019.