Everyday Neighbourhood Design in Canada’s Model Town: Oromocto NB, 1955-69
Oromocto, NB was known as “Canada’s Model Town” in 1959. This New Town was a collaborative design between Central Mortgage and Housing’s Architecture & Planning Division and the Department of National Defense’ s consultant, McGill Professor Harold Spence-Sales. Oromocto offered utility as a New Town and well-designed neighbourhoods servicing the needs of Canadian Forces Base Gagetown’s soldiers and their families. Oromocto was a CMHC showcase for inexpensive Modern homes and good neighbourhood planning in the 1950s. The Town’s design highlights unique connections to the City Efficient, Garden City, Neighbourhood Unit and New Town movements.
Oromocto’s original design is slowly disappearing. Built to accommodate a population of 12,000, many homes have been demolished in recent years as the population in the original townsite has declined. Schools have closed and the commercial centre has been eclipsed by new highway retail nearby. However, many of the Town’s good neighbourhood design features are still visible and proved decades ahead of their time.
This paper will consider how Oromocto’s development and connections to these planning movements, such as the neighbourhood unit, influence our understanding of the town as architecture and heritage of the everyday. This paper will provide opportunity for further discussion on how Oromocto’s ongoing transformation will affect its heritage and futureplanning.