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Paradise: Class, Commuters, and Ethnicity in Rural Ontario

Series: Heritage
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 315
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Paradiseconcentrates on the transformed class system of one community in rural Ontario. In a comparison of the decade following the First World War and the 1980s, Stanley R. Barrett analyses the changing face and structure of a town as it has had to adapt to modern social and economic realities.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-5662-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Part One Paradise Lost:: Natives

    • Chapter One Historical Sketches
      (pp. 3-16)

      Paradise in the 1950s, a Saturday night in summer: life in the fast lane! To the local people, this was no exaggeration, because Saturday night was shopping night, when the farmers and their families came to town, and the stores, at least some of them, stayed open until midnight. Saturday was much more than the day to buy groceries; it was a social occasion, a weekly community event. By early evening, parking spaces along Main Street were at a premium. Some of them, much to the disgust of the shoppers, were occupied by the storekeepers themselves, others by the more...

    • Chapter Two The Framework of the Study
      (pp. 17-33)

      The historical overview that has just been sketched serves as an invitation to enter the world of the people of Paradise. Before we can proceed any further, we must pause to clarify the topics which have been selected as the focus of the study, plus the key concepts and the central arguments.

      As indicated in the preface, at the most general level this is a study of social change in small-town Ontario, revolving around a systematic comparison of two periods: the decade following the Second World War, and the decade of the 1980s. During the first period there was a...

    • Chapter Three Stratification
      (pp. 34-61)

      Paradise, to paraphrase Dickens, was the best of places or the worst of places, depending on one’s perspective. Upper-class people described the community as it existed in the decade following the Second World War as one of harmony and marvellous egalitarianism. When pressed, they admit that there may have been different social levels, but they insist that everyone was treated fairly, even the drunks. There were no obstacles, they claimed, to upward status mobility; those who found themselves in the lowest level were there, and remained there, simply because they lacked ambition. Lower-class people contend that there was an oppressive...

    • Chapter Four The Great Escape
      (pp. 62-84)

      Over and over again I heard the same refrain from the poor people of the past: only if they left the community did they have any hope of building a successful life. A woman who grew up in poverty remarked: ‘I was dying to leave. I was tired of the stigma.’ When she did move to the city, first living in a huge apartment complex, what pleased her was the anonymity; even people with whom she associated did not know her background, and she was finally free from the gossip that had always dogged her. Despite the lack of funds,...

  6. Part Two Paradise Found:: Newcomers

    • Chapter Five Modern Pioneers
      (pp. 87-113)

      By the second half of the twentieth century the spectre of dying towns and villages cast a shadow over rural society in many industrialized nations, and in developing ones too, as people deserted the countryside for the city. But in the 1970s a remarkable transformation in the pattern of migration in countries such as the United States took place; droves of people began to vacate the city in search of the good life in smaller communities. As Schwarzweller (1979:7) has remarked, ‘Some years hence we may refer to this as the decade of the Great Population Turnaround in America.’ A...

    • Chapter Six The Commuting Life
      (pp. 114-130)

      When I asked natives of Paradise how many of the newcomers commute to work, the answer usually was ‘all of them.’ An elderly resident stated that at 5 a.m. the subdivision next to his home is just like a parking lot after a hockey game, with cars criss-crossing in all directions as they charged towards the escape exits. A more precise estimate of the commuting situation can be derived from the place-of-work data in the 1986 census.¹ In that year, 1,208 people who lived in Paradise were active in the labour force; 718 (59 per cent) of them worked in...

    • Chapter Seven Growing Pains
      (pp. 131-172)

      Paradise, it appears, has always been shaped by some sort of dualism. A century ago, in the days of the pioneers, it took the form of raw nature against technological change, as the forests gave way to cultivated fields and fenced-in pastures replaced the hunt. Over the passing decades, farmers and townspeople have gazed curiously at each other across a slender psychological divide, while rich people and poor, and men and women have acted out their destinies. Eventually a new dichotomy made its appearance: natives versus newcomers. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the combined impact of natives...

  7. Part Three Perfect Strangers:: Ethnic Minorities

    • Chapter Eight British Subjects and Aliens
      (pp. 175-189)

      ‘You’d never seethatin the past.’ These were the words of an elderly shopkeeper, whose customer, a black person, had just left the premises. There was a time, the merchant ruminated, when even the local Italian family was regarded as peculiar, but now the place is starting to resemble Toronto, with immigrants from every corner of the globe, including ‘the coloureds and the Pakis.’ In parts one and two, the focus was on natives and newcomers. Here, in part three, the focus switches to the other major category of people in the study: minorities. The minorities share with the...

    • Chapter Nine African and Asian Canadians
      (pp. 190-223)

      A fundamental question guides this chapter: Is racism in rural society more or less extensive than in urban society? Most of the African Canadians thought that rural society was the less hospitable environment, although there was a lack of consensus as to whether there actually was more racism in the countryside, or whether it simply showed up more, or was felt more. The vast majority of these people expressed a strong desire to interact with their neighbours, and when they were rejected they reacted with bitterness and sometimes with anger. The Asian Canadians, in contrast, were inclined to regard racism...

    • Chapter Ten Jews and French Canadians
      (pp. 224-244)

      What is remarkable about anti-Semitism and racism is their capacity to flourish even in settings where their targets are almost non-existent. The proportion of the Canadian rural population that was Jewish in 1981 (Dasgupta 1988:151-2) was a mere 0.1 per cent; in Canada as a whole that year, Jews made up only 1.2 per cent of the population. From 1904 to 1951, according to the assessment records, only eight Jewish families had lived in Paradise. At the turn of the century, they were country peddlers, travelling by cart from farm to farm, selling clothing and pots and pans; as recently...

    • Chapter Eleven Patterns of Prejudice
      (pp. 245-272)

      We begin with two widely held assumptions in Paradise. The first is that the more there is contact among people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, the less the prejudice. It follows therefore that rural people are more intolerant than urban people. This assumption was often articulated by newcomers, who thought that the elderly residents of Paradise would be especially inclined towards racism; occasionally Paradise natives would state the same thing about their friends and acquaintances. As for the African Canadians, more often than not their first reactions were to argue that racism was even more widespread in the country...

    • Chapter Twelve Wider Issues
      (pp. 273-280)

      Paradise in 1990 is not the same community as it was in 1950. The good old days, as many of the natives remember them, were guarded by stability and cohesion. Stability, however, at least in a class-based society, normally is accompanied by inequality, and cohesion usually amounts to the ruling class’s success in imposing its ideology on the rest of the population. We need only recall the different perspectives of people at the polar ends of the stratification system in the past to realize that these assertions amount almost to truisms. By the early 1970s Paradisei’s defences had been penetrated...

  8. Appendix A: Methodology
    (pp. 281-292)
  9. Appendix B: Interview Schedule for Natives
    (pp. 293-296)
  10. Notes
    (pp. 297-304)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 305-312)
  12. Index
    (pp. 313-315)