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History Post-confederation (1867-)

Creeping Conformity

How Canada Became Suburban, 1900-1960

by (author) Richard Harris

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 2004
Post-Confederation (1867-), Urban & Land Use Planning, City Planning & Urban Development
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2004
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2004
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Dec 2004
    List Price

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Creeping Conformity, the first history of suburbanization in Canada, provides a geographical perspective – both physical and social – on Canada's suburban past. Shaped by internal and external migration, decentralization of employment, and increased use of the streetcar and then the automobile, the rise of the suburb held great social promise, reflecting the aspirations of Canadian families for more domestic space and home ownership.


After 1945 however, the suburbs became stereotyped as generic, physically standardized, and socially conformist places. By 1960, they had grown further away – physically and culturally – from their respective parent cities, and brought unanticipated social and environmental consequences. Government intervention also played a key role, encouraging mortgage indebtedness, amortization, and building and subdivision regulations to become the suburban norm. Suburban homes became less affordable and more standardized, and for the first time, Canadian commentators began to speak disdainfully of 'the suburbs,' or simply 'suburbia.' Creeping Conformity traces how these perceptions emerged to reflect a new suburban reality.


Electronic Format Disclaimer: Two images removed at the request of the rights holder.

About the author

Richard Harris is a professor in the School of Geography and Geology at McMaster University.

Richard Harris' profile page

Editorial Reviews

Creeping Conformity is a little gem. It is one of those rare books by an academic that is both easy to read and leaves you wanting more.

Focus on Municipal Assessment and Taxation

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