Explore scientific agriculture at the Central Experimental Farm and see its intricate relationship with Ottawa and Canada.

$15 & up/person
Experiential 2 Hours Suitable for ages 12 and up

Why is there a Farm in the middle of Ottawa?

Should government support scientific research? Can science be beautiful? Seeking to answer these questions, this seminar explores the past, present, and future of scientific agriculture at the Central Experimental Farm and the Farm’s intricate relationship with both the city and the nation. While walking through a diverse collection of landscapes and jumping back and forth across the 129-year history of the Farm, we will discuss the principles, politics, and aesthetics of experimental agriculture, city planning, and heritage policies. The tour begins with an example of contemporary conservation biology at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden before exploring the Dominion Arboretum, Ornamental Gardens, and the experimental fields themselves. Our last stop is at the Hartwell Locks to compare and contrast UNESCO and Canadian heritage policies where two scientific heritage landscapes, the Rideau Canal and the Central Experimental Farm, meet. The conversation continues across the Canal at Carleton University’s campus pub. Throughout the seminar we will remain focused on the ways science influences the landscapes we’re moving through as well as those further a field in the city of Ottawa and across Canada.

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Scheduled tour
Happens monthly.
  • Printed souvenir postcard
  • Maximum of 25 people on tour
Private tour
Minimum booking: party of 3 people. Happens if you request.
  • Tour content is tweaked on the spot to cover your interests
  • Printed souvenir postcard
  • Maximum of 8 people on tour
  • Follow-up additional resources by email
Customized tour
Minimum booking: 1 person (or more). Happens if you request.
  • Pre-tour chat with your guide to discuss your interests in topic (optional)
  • Content customized to your interests
  • Printed souvenir postcard
  • Your group only on tour
  • Follow-up additional resources by email

Request a private or customized (de)tour
September 2022
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

Stops along the way (preview):

Our guide is piloting a new route (Route 2) during the 2018 season, which will be unveiled as part of the 2018 Jane's Walk. Both routes are available for private tours.

Start - Fletcher Wildlife Garden

We'll start by thinking about the role of nature in the city by walking through a rewilded landscape.

Mid-point - Dominion Arboretum

Science is practical, but it can also be beautiful. How do past scientific paradigms shape our public spaces?

End - Experimental Fields

What's the role of agriculture and science in the city? Why is the Central Experimental Farm still here? (Note: we will walk back to the FWG parking lot after this stop).

Start - South-east corner of Carling and Fisher

How did Sir John A Macdonald and Wilfred Laurier's agriculture ministers, Sir John Carling and Sydney Fisher, shape the city of Ottawa?

Mid-point - Western Forestry Belt

The Farm has evolved in relationship with the city and changing agricultural economics. We'll explore the role of trees in these transformations.

End - Ash Lane and Winding Road

The Central Experimental Farm faces many threats, why is it so important to protect?

Pete Anderson

Your tour guide
Pete Anderson is passionate about the place of science and agriculture in society. He’s been researching Canadian agricultural history professionally and academically since 2008 and completed a PhD on the historical geography of the Central Experimental Farm. He is a member of the Coalition to Protect the Central Experimental Farm and his current project explores the history and geography of soil beneath our feet through the scientific lives of Farm scientists.
"Scientific Landscapes Tour - fascinating and fun tour! We went on a "book club" field trip on the Scientific Landscape Tour - Pete was very engaging and interesting. We all enjoyed it very much. Would like to try one of the other (de)Tours."
Tripadvisor review, August 2015
“My second (de)tour. This one as satisfying, illuminating and jolly as the last. Pete, our guide through the Central Experimental Farm, mapped out a physical, scientific and historical exploration of this national treasure. Born in Ottawa, I was delighted to learn so much about something that locals often think of as 1,000 acres of empty fields.”
Tripadvisor review, September 2015

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