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Churchill Park - A Garden Suburb in St John's

Researcher:  Dr Chris Sharpe and J. Shawyer

Churchill Park is a remarkable cultural landscape which is the subject of ongoing research in the Department. Developed by a Corporation appointed by the Government, on 800 acres of land expropriated from more than 300 private owners in 1944, it is one of the earliest suburban developments in Canada. This project effectively doubled the area of the city.

Churchill Park was essentially an exercise in social engineering. Construction of modest houses intended to alleviate the crowded and often dilapidated housing in central St John's began in 1945. Churchill Park was designed in the manner of a classic Garden City: its collector roads were fed by curving residential streets and cul-de-sacs further connected by green walkways and parks. The detached houses on generous lots, with open interior floor plans, central heating, and built-in kitchens introduced Modern urban house design to St John's.

However, after Confederation with Canada in 1949, the purpose of Churchill Park changed. The new provincial government was now able to access federal housing schemes and so it was decided to use this fully-serviced area as a landbank for a variety of housing projects in the 1950s and 1960s: Federal/Provincial social housing, Veterans' housing, military housing, and more than twenty Housing Co-operative Societies the members of which built their own houses. And, many houses were built by the newly emerging home-building industry.

More than half a century later, the three commercial districts originally developed to serve the Churchill Park area remain as an integral part of the community and Churchill Park remains a distinctive and desirable urban residential neighbourhood, with more than 2,000 houses sited within parks, green space, and mature trees.

A number of students have participated in this research through field trips and research assistantships, Honours Dissertations and graduate research. The results of the research to date have been communicated to geographers, planners, historians and to architects and heritage experts.

Publications:

Sharpe, C.A. (2005) "Mr. Dunfield’s Folly: The Development of Churchill Park Garden Suburb in St. John’s". In A.G. Macpherson (ed.) Four Centuries and the City: Essays in the Historical Geography of St John's. St John's: Department of Geography, Memorial University, 83-122.

Sharpe, Christopher (2005) "Just beyond the fringe: Churchill Park garden suburb in St John's, Newfoundland. The Canadian Geographer vol.49, no. 4, 400-410.

Sharpe, C.A. and A.J. Shawyer (2005) "Addressing the Legacy of the Modern in Newfoundland: Churchill Park Garden Suburb, St John's". Presented at the conference “Conserving the Modern”, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, May 6-8.

St. John's in 1947 and the boundaries of Churchill Park

The standard Churchill Park house designs

Houses for sale on the 5th June 1946

 

 

 

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