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Shaping the Urban Landscape

Shaping the Urban Landscape: Aspects of the Canadian City-Building Process

Gilbert A. Stelter
Alan F.J. Artibise
Copyright Date: 1982
Pages: 446
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  • Book Info
    Shaping the Urban Landscape
    Book Description:

    This is a collection of essays focusing on the process of city-building in Canada. The authors weigh the relative broad social, economic and technological trends as they attempt to explain the shaping of this urban landscape.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8486-0
    Subjects: Geography

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. iv-iv)
    Gilbert A. Stelter and Alan F.J. Artibise

    • 1. The City-Building Process in Canada
      (pp. 1-29)
      Gilbert A. Stelter

      Cities and towns are multidimensional phenomena and are not easily definable or explainable. Therefore we should not be suprised when those of us who try to explain them seem to fall into the practice of the proverbial blind men, who, when examining an elephant, each seized upon a different feature and proclaimed it as the only true characteristic. In spite of the difficulties inherent in studying the urban past, there are growing signs that some definite and useful paths have been charted through the complexity. In fact, the study of urban history in Canada and elsewhere has made tremendous strides...


    • 2. Ideology and Political Economy in Urban Growth: Guelph, 1827-1927
      (pp. 30-64)

      The development of Guelph as a significant secondary urban centre represents the triumph of a business community over an environment which yielded few natural advantages over its commercial and industrial rivals. Lured initially to the location by the extravagant promises and clever promotions of the Canada Company and its founder, John Galt, Guelph’s businessmen found themselves engaged in a century-long struggle to prevent the loss of their business investment and to develop an economic environment which would enable them to prosper and expand.

      Critical to their success was the self-conscious development of a theory of political economy which, although it...

    • 3. Montreal Banks and the Urban Development of Quebec, 1840-1914
      (pp. 65-83)

      Banks have always played an important role in urban development. N.S.B. Gras found that the establishment of financial control by banks and other financial institutions was the crowning point in the growth of a centre to metropolitan status. “In Boston it is State Street, in New York Wall Street, in Chicago LaSalle Street. Here in these districts are the banks, brokers’ offices, stock exchanges and insurance offices. Here is the most sensitive spot in the metropolitan nerve centre.”¹ In addition to symbolizing the maturity of the metropolitan centre, these financial institutions had an impact upon the development of towns within...

    • 4. Staples and the New Industrialism in the Growth of Post-Confederation Halifax
      (pp. 84-115)
      L.D. McCANN

      In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the course of urban development in the Maritimes diverged sharply from the path followed by central Canada. Because Maritime cities grew at slower rates and with fewer opportunities than their Ontario and Quebec counterparts, they remained much smaller in size and less diverse in their functional activities.¹ Scholars are now attempting to explain this divergence. Several have emphasized the differentiating role of the entrepreneur. T.W. Acheson, for example, has argued recently that the Maritime entrepreneurial class, comprised mostly of a long-established mercantile elite, was unable to meet the challenge of the new...

    • 5. In Pursuit of Growth: Municipal Boosterism and Urban Development in the Canadian Prairie West, 1871-1913
      (pp. 116-147)

      Although western Canadian urban history is a rapidly expanding field, much ground remains unturned; there is, for example, still no adequate overview of the development of western cities.¹ It is the purpose of this paper to fill some of the gaps that still exist. While the emphasis in the following pages is on description, this study also attempts to move into the realm of interpretation by providing at least tentative answers to questions of significance not only to prairie cities, but to urban studies generally. How important are the beliefs, decisions, and actions of individuals and groups in determining the...


    • 6. Physical Expansion and Socio-Cultural Segregation in Quebec City, 1765-1840
      (pp. 148-172)

      Rapid economic growth, military fortifications and an inefficient administration were the most significant factors influencing the development of Quebec City in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Between 1790 and 1840, the British timber trade was responsible for rapid economic, demographic and physical expansion. Parallel to this development was the growth of an imposing military presence; a presence which limited urban growth and influenced the social composition of the city. The partial administration of the Commission of the Peace, a body dominated by anglophone merchants, played a significant role in the division of the city into two areas: one...

    • 7. Speculation and the Physical Development of Mid-Nineteenth Century Hamilton
      (pp. 173-199)

      Over the past fifteen years historians and historical geographers have begun to explore the mechanisms underlying the growth of cities and their suburbs during the nineteenth century.* In spite of this activity, there is, as yet, no very good sense of the way that the process of land development, defined here as the conversion of raw land into urban uses, operated in the Victorian city. The most comprehensive studies, such as those by H.J. Dyos and Sam Warner, have provided a useful beginning to this area of analysis, but many questions remained unanswered about both those who were involved in...

    • 8. Land Subdivision in Toronto, 1851-1883
      (pp. 200-231)

      The growth of Toronton in the nineteenth century has been discussed by both contemporaries and later writers in terms of the amount and composition of population increase, and of changing political, social and economic institutions and roles. Most references to physical growth have been limited to statements in words or maps about the extent of the built-up area or the extension of the city boundaries through the annexation of suburban municipalities. Only a few have touched on the subdivision stage of the growth process, offering some insight into the factors that influenced the nature and distribution of the resulting street...

    • 9. Building Halifax, 1841-1871
      (pp. 232-255)

      At its incorporation in 1841, Halifax was a modest colonial town, with a population of about 15,000. With a few prominent exceptions like the fine Government House and the elegant neo-classical Province House, it was a wooden town. Despite a decade of building activity and a rash of local boosterism in the 1840s, at mid-century the editor of theAcadian Recordercould still deplore “its long rows of old, dirty, dingy, shaky, wooden houses, all built originally in the tea-chest order of architecture,” and its “reputation of being the meanest looking city in the civilized world, in proportion to its...

    • 10. Reshaping the Urban Landscape? Town Planning Efforts in Kitchener-Waterloo, 1912-1925
      (pp. 256-303)

      In the mid-1920s, Kitchener enjoyed the reputation of a pioneer in the Canadian town planning movement, as the first Ontario muncipality to adopt a modern town plan and enact an associated zoning by-law. The plans by Thomas Adams and Horace Seymour for Kitchener and Waterloo were on view at the British Empire Exhibition (Wembley) in 1924; and Adams in his speech there described the two municipalities as "the most advanced in Canada in regard to town planning.”³ Kitchener was often cited as a model by Seymour and others in theJournalof the Town Planning Institute of Canada, for its...

    • 11. The Development and Beautification of an Industrial City: Maisonneuve, 1883-1918
      (pp. 304-320)

      In the four decades following 1880, Canada underwent a major transformation, marked in particular by the acceleration of industrializtion and urbanization. In the province of Quebec, the population of the metropolitan area of Montreal grew from 177,000 in 1881 to 618,000 in 1921. Part of this urban growth overflowed the legal limits of the city itself and resulted in the establishment and expansion of several suburban municipalities. One of these was the city of Maisonneuve. Created in 1883, Maisonneuve became by the outbreak of the first World War a significant industrial centre – an experience shared by hundreds of other...

    • 12. From Land Assembly to Social Maturity: The Suburban Life of Westdale (Hamilton), Ontario, 1911-1951
      (pp. 321-355)

      With insights drawn from American and British scholarship, Canadian historians and historical geographers have been participating in what has become an international study of cities.¹ In Canada, as elsewhere, writing has tended to focus on the mid-nineteenth century, testing hypotheses relating to a shift from the pre-industrial pedestrian city to the industrial city with mass transit.² The decades from 1840 to 1880, therefore, emerge as a critical era for urban and social history. After the nineteenth-century watershed, there remain significant issues concerning “the city building process”³ and major growth periods with waves of immigration between 1905 and 1913, 1925 and...

    • 13. Politics, Space, and Trolleys: Mass Transit in Early Twentieth-Century Toronto
      (pp. 356-381)

      During the last half of the nineteenth century several developments in the field of urban mass transit helped to alter both the spatial structure and the way of life in cities in Europe and North America. The most important and widespread of these innovations was the electric streetcar which evolved during the 1880s. More efficient and cheaper to operate than its predecessors – omnibuses, stage coaches, and horsecars – the electric streetcar meant lower fares and a greatly expanded ridership in most places where it was introduced. Moreover, the greater speed of the trolley (roughly twice that of earlier vehicles)...

    • 14. “C.P.R. Town”: The City-Building Process in Vancouver, 1860-1914
      (pp. 382-412)

      Vancouver’s urban landscape is the outcome of numerous forces and decisions. Topography, climate, technology, the political system and population all played their part, as did the decisions of thousands of citizens, politicians and businessmen. The relative importance of these determinants varied depending upon the particular time or district, and no single agency controlled all development. In the first big surge of growth of the 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway played a critical role. But as Vancouver grew in size and complexity, especially in the decade before the First World War, a whole series of agencies such as city council, street...

    • 15. Canadian Resource Towns in Historical Perspective
      (pp. 413-434)

      In a provocative analysis of urban design, Edmund Bacon suggests that the form of cities “always has been and always will be a pitiless indicator of the state of civilization.”¹ This statement is particularly applicable to the building of Canadian resource towns, for these communities clearly reflect the harsh reality of Canada’s development as an industrialized and urbanized nation. This reality becomes more apparent when these communities are examined from a historical perspective. Since most resource towns remain small and static, they – more than most communities – continue to be a product of past decisions. The original site near...

  7. Notes on Editors
    (pp. 435-435)
  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 436-436)
  9. Back Matter
    (pp. 437-441)