Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960

Article excerpt

Richard Harris, Creeping Conformity: How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960 (Toronto, Buffalo and London, University of Toronto Press, 2004), x + 205pp. Cloth. $45. £28. ISBN 0-8020-3556-6. Paper. $19.95. £11.25. ISBN 0-8020-8428-1.

The visitor to modern Canada cannot fail to be impressed by the ubiquitous homogenous suburb. However, Harris observes that in the early days of the Canadian suburbs the homes in them were far from uniform. He shows that many were self-built by relatively poor working-class families which is contrary to the popular definition of the suburb as middle or upper-middle class in character. However, Harris also observes that in the first half of the twentieth century, although Canadian suburbs were socially diverse, individually they were homogenous. People chose to segregate themselves into communities where they shared a common class, religious or ethnic background. He argues the trend towards today's Canadian suburban conformity only began as a result of government intervention, in particular the adoption of national building standards in the 1940s, and the introduction of rigorous provincial planning legislation after 1945.

Harris condemns the 'fastidious disdain' for the suburb in the writing of British social historian, F. …

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