Toronto has no history! and other abstracts (Thorncrest Village in Etobicoke and Hamilton’s King Street West) from Urban History Review

Toronto has no history! (Victoria Jane Freeman)

The following abstract is from Urban History Review, Vol. 38, No. 2 (2010).

In 1884, during a week-long commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Toronto’s incorporation in 1834, tens of thousands celebrated Toronto’s history and its relation to British colonialism and imperialism. The author’s analysis of the historical tableaux in the first day’s parade and speeches by Daniel Wilson, president of University College, and Chief Samson Green of the Tyendinaga Mohawks reveals divergent approaches to commemoration as “politics by other means”: on one hand, the erasure of the area’s Indigenous past and the celebration of its European future, on the other, an idealized view of the past of Indigenous–settler partnership that ignores the role of local settlers in the dispossession of the Mississaugas. The 1884 commemoration marks the transition from the founding of the settlement in 1793 to its incorporation in 1834 as the city’s “founding moment” and marker of the assumed “indigeneity” of settler-immigrants. The deed acquired from the Mississaugas in the Toronto Purchase of 1787 is deemed irrelevant, while the 1834 Act of Incorporation becomes the symbolic deed to Toronto’s modernity.

Here’s a PhD thesis from Victoria Jane Freeman exploring this topic in detail. [Click on the link in the previous sentence to access the document.]

A model suburb for model suburbanites: Order, control, and expertise in Thorncrest Village (Patrick Vitale)

The following abstract is from Urban History Review, Vol. 40, No. 1 (2011).

In 1945, Marshall Foss began construction of Thorncrest Village, a subdivision in Etobicoke just to the west of Toronto. Foss and urban planner Eugene Faludi envisioned Thorncrest Village as nothing less than a model suburb for postwar Canada. They created a community that embodied the ideals of modern suburban planning: conformity, community, privacy, stability, and a careful mixture of nature and city. They developed an orderly and controlled suburb that secured upper-middle-class residents’ financial investments and their social status. These residents, in turn, placed unbounded faith in Foss and Faludi’s expertise and identified with the Village as a landmark experiment in modern suburban living. Thorncrest Village became a key site that intertwined the expertise of modern urban planning and the identities of elite suburbanites. The values that developers and residents put into place in Thorncrest Village—particularly the pursuit of order and control—are significant components of suburbanization in Canada and elsewhere.


The facelift and the wrecking ball: Urban renewal and Hamilton’s King Street West, 1957–1971 (Margaret Rockwell)

The following abstract is from Urban History Review, Vol. 37, No. 2 (2009).

Hamilton, Ontario, wanted a modernist makeover for its downtown during the 1960s. Politicians and businessmen aggressively sought federal and provincial urban renewal funds to rebuild the city’s core. This research note focuses on Hamilton’s King Street West, between James and Bay, which ran through the centre of the downtown urban renewal area. The photographs show all that was lost, and the original plan helps us to understand why the people of Hamilton initially accepted the destruction. The resulting traffic corridor was a victory for modernist planners who wanted to remove the pedestrian from the street so that the car could dominate.


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