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Date of Award

7-2004

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Supervisor

Professor Kenneth Cruikshank

Abstract

In the second half of the nineteenth century the six Ontario suburban communities of Yorkville, New Edinburgh, London West, London East, Parkdale and Brockton were incorporated. In general suburbanites opted for incorporation because their increasingly urban concerns were not being met by the governance ofthe rural townships of which they were a part. Although the municipal status of these suburbs lasted for varying periods of time, and only overlapped briefly in the early 1880s, they had much in common. All six municipalities attempted to develop as alternatives to the cities they neighboured. Suburbanites and their local governments worked hard to create local identities and, at least for a time, stave off amalgamation with the neighbouring cities, which were increasingly anxious to expand their boundaries. All the while the suburbs were forced to balance the development of infrastructure and the need to keep taxation low in order to keep their communities viable and attractive locations for householders and businesses. The creation and maintenance of expensive infrastructure was often poorly handled, and led to massive expenditures and soaring suburban debts. This fiscal chaos within the suburbs ensured that the amalgamation question would be much debated by both suburb and city. While the ratepayers of each of the suburbs ultimately endorsed amalgamation, they did so only after what were often long and protracted debates. If anything, the struggle over amalgamation illustrated that suburban solvency and responsibility had to be weighed against questions of suburban agency and independence.

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