Notice of Intention to Designate Glen Abbey Golf Course property under s.29, Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act

Thu, 24 Aug 2017

Notice of Intention to Designate

Take notice that, on August 21, 2017, Oakville Town Council issued a Notice of Intention to Designate the property, including all lands and premises known as ‘Glen Abbey Golf Course’, located at 1333 Dorval Drive, Oakville, Ontario (the Property), under s.29, Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.18, as amended.

Description of the Property

In the Town of Oakville in the Regional Municipality of Halton, the full legal description of the Property is as follows:

Part of Lots 17, 18, 19 and 20, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar) designated as Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 on Plan 20R-5211, except Parts 1, 2 and 3 on Plan 20R-12459, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0765;

Part of Lot 19, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar), designated as Part 5 on Plan 20R-12459, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0766;

Part of Lot 18, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar) designated as Parts 2 and 3 on Plan 20R-10207, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0767;

Part of Lot 20, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar), designated as Parts 1 to 7 on Plan 20R-13074, except Parts 2 to 8 on Plan 20R-14125, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0792;

Part of Lots 18 and 19, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar), designated as Parts 1 and 2 on Plan 20R-5071, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0062;

Part of Lots 18 and 19, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar), designated as Part 3 on Plan 20R-5071, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0063;

Part of Lots 18 and 19, Concession 2 South of Dundas Street (Trafalgar), designated as Part 4 on Plan 20R-5071, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0064; and

Block 102, Plan 20M-382, Oakville, being the lands in PIN 24872-0441.

The Property consists of approximately 229 acres and is physically comprised of tablelands and valley lands alongside the Sixteen Mile Creek. In the past, this property has been occupied by Indigenous peoples, has contained a farm and sawmill, the private RayDor estate, a Jesuit religious retreat and a country club. In the 1970s, this property was transformed by professional golfer and golf course designer, Jack Nicklaus, into a designed cultural heritage landscape known as the Glen Abbey Golf Course. All of these references to earlier layers exist within the present form as set out by Jack Nicklaus.

Statement of Cultural Heritage Value or Interest

Design/Physical Value

Glen Abbey is one of Canada’s most famous golf courses. It was the first course in the world to significantly enhance the spectator experience by combining stadium design with a hub-and-spoke layout. The success of the design influenced later golf course design both in Canada and internationally.

The golf course is notable for its high degree of craftsmanship and artistic merit. The sequence of valley holes are considered among the most beautiful and challenging in the sport. The 17th and 18th holes have been recognized as among the most successful finishing holes in international championship play. The spectator mounds not only provide for intimate and unobstructed viewing, but also frame the fairways and greens. The design of the clubhouse reinforces the spectator experience and successfully integrates architecture and landscape.

The golf course is a very good representative of the emphasis on finesse rather than pure strength, in the ‘strategic’ tradition of golf design. This success stemmed from the designer’s intimate knowledge of Augusta National and other outstanding courses around the world, in his role as the world’s best championship golfer of all time. The course also reflects his strong commitment to combining the functional and the aesthetic.

The clubhouse building, both in its original form and with its matching wings, demonstrated a new relationship between architecture and landforms in heightening the drama of finishing play for spectators.

The RayDor estate house, in the relatively rare French eclectic style, is a high quality and early example of 20th Century estate homes in Oakville. The stable building is a rare example of estate outbuildings from that era.

Historic/Associative Value

The direct historic association of Glen Abbey Golf Course with the Canadian Open, Canada’s pre-eminent golf event, has given the course a significant place within the history of the Town of Oakville, as well as an enhanced awareness across Canada and within the international golfing community. The course has become directly associated with Hall of Fame winners of the Canadian Open at Glen Abbey, including Lee Trevino, Curtis Strange, Greg Norman, Nick Price, Mark O’Meara and Vijay Singh. It is also famous for specific golf shots, including Tiger Woods’ dramatic shot on the final hole of the 2000 Canadian Open.

Jack Nicklaus, the designer of Glen Abbey, is one of the greatest golfers in golf history, possibly the best tournament player of all time. His record of 18 majors has never been equaled. He has also become a highly recognized and admired golf course architect. Jack Nicklaus has noted that he regards Glen Abbey as one of his most creative and important designs. It is one of the most significant works by one of golf’s most significant figures.

The clubhouse demonstrates the work of Crang and Boake Ltd., a firm founded in 1952, which grew to become one of Canada’s largest architectural firms in the late 20th Century. The design of the clubhouse and its sympathetic additions are fully integrated within the golf course landscape.

In addition to the golf course, the Property contains remnants of earlier layers in the cultural heritage landscape that were intentionally included within the Nicklaus designed landscape. The RayDor estate house and its associated outbuildings, especially the unique stables, are remnants from the property’s early 20th Century estate era and directly connect the property to André Dorfman, a nationally significant figure in the development of the mining industry in Canada.

The dramatic valley area sustains many of the natural features that connect this property to its long occupation by, and association with, various First Nations communities, including Haudenosaunee and Mississauga.

The direct association of Glen Abbey with the Royal Canadian Golf Association, now Golf Canada, connects it to the larger amateur and professional golfing community across the country and around the world.

Contextual Value

The Property is a landmark within the Town of Oakville. The quality of the golf course, and its connection to the Canadian Open, have been important in defining the character of this community and giving it a distinct place within the larger Toronto metropolitan area, and beyond. The course is also a central defining feature of its immediate neighbourhoods, which were created in response to the construction of the course.

The Property retains a high level of authenticity and integrity, continuing to host tournament, championship and recreational golf and still exhibiting the combination of land forms, water features, built features, plantings and circulation patterns that reflect Nicklaus’s original vision.

Description of Heritage Attributes

Attributes supporting historical and associative value of the Property:

  • The historic use and ongoing ability of the property to be used for championship, tournament and recreational golf;
  • The historic use and ongoing ability to host championship and other major tournaments, such as the Canadian Open;
  • The close and ongoing association of the course design with Jack Nicklaus/Nicklaus Design;
  • The elements of the property constructed during the RayDor Estate Era and with Andre Dorfman, a nationally significant figure in the development of the mining industry in Canada.

Attributes supporting design and physical value of the Property:

  • The pioneering stadium-style golf course design with its unique hub and spoke layout;
  • The organization of the various open parkland holes, water holes and valley holes to provide a dramatic championship sequence;
  • The spatial organization of each tee, hazard, plantings, fairway and green as evidence of Nicklaus’s design philosophy of strategy and risk/reward;
  • The carefully-designed visual unfolding of each hole as part of the golfing experience, both aesthetic and functional;
  • The integrated spectator experience, including the hub and spoke layout, central clubhouse and spectator mounds;
  • The circulation patterns during championship, tournament and recreational play, for golfers, spectators and visitors;
  • The ecology of the river valley as a delicate balance between natural features and the landscape of golf;
  • The landforms and their role in shaping a new era in golf course design;
  • The subtle use of water features to achieve both aesthetic pleasure and challenging hazards;
  • The clubhouse designed by Crang and Boake Inc., and its relationship to both the landscape of the 18th hole and the overall hub-and-spoke layout;
  • The RayDor Estate house exterior designed by architects Marani, Lawson & Morris, including the carved stone exterior, red clay tile roof, leaded casement windows, main entrance with ornamental surround and solid oak door, hipped dormers and stone chimneys with clay pots;
  • The outbuildings associated with the RayDor Estate, including the stable buildings, designed by architects Marani, Lawson & Morris.

Attributes supporting contextual value of the Property:

  • The key views that represent that designed cultural heritage landscape as experienced from the public realm and within the course:
  • The visual overview from the Smith Triller Viaduct;
  • The view from the 11th hole with a long shot into the valleylands;
  • The spectator’s view of the green of the 18th hole;
  • The golfer’s view of the green of the 18th hole from the bunkers (the Tiger Woods shot);
  • The long view up the valleylands from the 14th hole;
  • The water vistas and picturesque landscape of the 9th hole;
  • The nature of the open space within the surrounding residential neighbourhoods related to a distinct sporting culture with a unique type of parkland setting;
  • The visual and historical connections to the surrounding residential neighbourhood.

Attributes supporting the overall cultural heritage value or interest of the Property:

Jack Nicklaus’s unique integration of land use, traditional practices, land patterns, spatial organization, visual relationships, circulation, ecological features, vegetation, landforms, water features, and built features.

More Information

Further information respecting the proposed designation is available from the town. Any inquiries may be directed to Susan Schappert, heritage planner at 905-845-6601, ext. 3870 (TTY 905-338-4200), or by email at

Objection to Designation

Any objection to this designation must be filed no later than September 25, 2017. Objections should be directed to the Town Clerk, 1225 Trafalgar Road, Oakville, Ontario L6H 0H3.

The last date to file a notice of objection is September 25, 2017.

NOTICE dated August 24, 2017.