Although remarkable for its breadth and variety, Professor Relph's career is characterized by endurance of a primary theme: the importance of critical observation and description of often-confused and perpetually changing landscapes. His own work makes many such insightful observations: perhaps more admirable though, is his commitment to, through his work, teaching students and colleagues how to look at places and landscapes for themselves.
Ted's career begins with Place and Placelessness, a monograph published out of his PhD studies at the University of Toronto. Place and Placelessness was a major force in ushering the field of humanistic geography amidst the quantitative revolution. In a review, John Gold called it a "lucid and inventive book that challenged the practice of contemporary human geography and offered new ways forward". Indeed, Ted's focus on the relationships between humans and places - on phenomenology - allowed for a focus on meaning. The book is more than an object of historical note. Rereading it, one is struck with its odd prescience in the current context of scholarly focus on globalization. It has been the subject of the series in Progress in Human Geography entitled "Classics in human geography revisited".
Place and Placelessness was followed by two additional monographs: Rational Landscapes and Humanistic Geography in 1984 and Modern Urban Landscapes in 1987. Both of these focus on the meanings of landscape and place. The latter is notable for its breadth, the subject being no less than the development and appearance of cities over the last one hundred years.
Dr. Relph is also known among geographers and planners for The Toronto Guide originally assembled for the AAG annual meeting in Toronto in 1990 and updated for the CAG annual meeting in 2002. This accessible and fun-to-read book has guided many visitors (Ted calls them 'deliberate tourists') to Toronto.
Ted is by no means a lone scholar. His mode of enquiry involves teaching. This outlook is reflected by a long tradition of listening to and learning from students. It is to some extent artificial to comment on his scholarship independently from his teaching. Among other things, Ted's field trips to Yorkville in Toronto and to the far-flung suburbs of Greater Toronto are famous among graduate students.
Ted's work extends well beyond our discipline. For example, he has been invited to give keynote addresses at conferences by the Havard University Graduate School of Design, the Council for Educators in Landscape Architecture and People and Places in Environmental Research.
Dr. Relph continues to publish on various topics including suburban downtowns and methodology. His interests today center on justice, dislocation and heteropia. His next project is a book on Toronto where he would provide interpretations of the city from insights of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis.
Ted remains dedicated to ferreting what lies beneath the visible landscape, to connect what his seen to sometimes distant processes and to doing so in a way that foregrounds the phenomenological experiences of landscapes. This requires that we use concepts that are connected to every day life. This important connection stands up over time in Dr. Relph's work.
This is also why the Canadian Association of Geographers honours Professor Relph with the Scholarly Distinction in Geography Award.