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Creeping Conformity

Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960

Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Creeping Conformity
    Book Description:

    Creeping Conformity, the first history of suburbanization in Canada, provides a geographical perspective - both physical and social - on Canada's suburban past.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2764-2
    Subjects: History, Architecture and Architectural History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-17)

    In the late 1920s the carpenter Arthur Evans built a house for himself, his wife, and their infant daughter Jean at 27 East 42nd Avenue in South Vancouver. This was suburban territory, although soon to be annexed by the City of Vancouver. The location was good, only a few steps from the stop on Main Street from which they could take a streetcar downtown. They would have heard the rumble on the rails as they had breakfast. Within a few years, however, disaster struck. The onset of the Great Depression in the fall of 1929 was devastating enough. Then, in...

  6. 2 A Place and a People
    (pp. 18-45)

    As a society, we have made our suburbs. They express our values, not to mention our bank accounts, and offer symbols and clues to our cultural experiences: the mall, the cul-de-sac, and the detached house, lately with a two- (or three-) car garage. Many writers argue that suburbs are not only expressive but influential, that they have shaped us, though not necessarily in the ways that we have intended, or even desired. It is, above all, because suburbs can affect the way we live that we need to take seriously their growth and ubiquity. The nature of their influence is...

  7. 3 Cities and Suburbs
    (pp. 46-73)

    Suburbs have often been seen as a ‘marriage’ of city and country, although ‘offspring’ would be a more appropriate metaphor. In physical terms they lie between their two parents and share some of the features of each. Many writers have viewed the offspring as healthier than either parent. The most influential was the English writer Ebenezer Howard, who, inTomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform(1898; republished in 1902 asGarden Cities of Tomorrow), argued that the city offered social opportunities but divorced families from nature; that it contained good jobs but high rents, diverse amusements but slums, congestion,...

  8. 4 The Making of Suburban Diversity, 1900–1929
    (pp. 74-105)

    In the first half of the twentieth century, Canadian suburbs were collectively diverse but individually homogeneous. This was a new phenomenon. In the nineteenth century, when the main function of Canadian cities was to facilitate trade, the segregation of people and land uses occurred on only a very limited scale. Ian Davey and Michael Doucet have shown, for example, that mid-nineteenth-century Hamilton did contain a distinct commercial core, but that in the residential areas merchants, professionals, and labourers often lived in the same areas and on the same city blocks. As urban industry became more important in the late nineteenth...

  9. 5 The Growing Influence of the State
    (pp. 106-128)

    In the early twentieth century, suburbs were diverse because governments allowed them to be. The federal government had no direct effect on the way urban areas developed. In the 1910s provincial governments began to pass legislation that purported to control how subdivisions were laid out, but they were largely ineffectual. Suburban diversity was fostered by the fragmentation and variability of local government, not only between city and suburb but also among the suburbs.

    It was only when the federal government entered the housing field in 1935, when local governments began to adopt national building standards in the 1940s, and when...

  10. 6 The Rise of the Corporate Suburb, 1945–1960
    (pp. 129-154)

    Many people assume that suburbanization began after the Second World War. Their mistake is understandable. In 1945, after a decade of the Great Depression and six years of war, there was a huge backlog of demand for housing. Young men and women had postponed marriage, young couples had postponed having children, and older families with children had waited to trade up to larger houses. In the prosperity of the post-war economy, these families were soon in the market for a house. During the 1930s and early 1940s the annual production of housing units never rose above 50,000, except briefly in...

  11. 7 Creeping Conformity?
    (pp. 155-174)

    Social commentators usually exaggerate the latest trend. At the beginning of the twentieth century, reformers painted in lurid colours the physical and moral condition of ‘the slums’ at a time when most slum dwellers, although poor, led respectable lives. In contrast, they idealized the healthfulness of the suburban home, which – though behind locked doors and out of earshot – contained its share of hardship, abuse, and anguish. By the 1950s new trends called for new rhetoric. Reporters and academics whipped themselves into a frenzy of criticism over suburban ‘conformity.’ It was not so much a trend as an accomplished fact, they...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 175-192)
  13. Index
    (pp. 193-204)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)