Household Work Strategies and Suburban Homeownership in Toronto, 1899–1913 Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • The dwelling reflects the employment situation of its occupants and enables them to engage in a particular level and combination of types of work (‘work strategy’). The growth of suburban homeownership in Toronto demonstrates the point. Ownership levels increased rapidly among all social classes. More middle-class women were doing their own housework. As a result they came to value smaller and more affordable homes. Many working-class men built their own homes. Some of these homes were in unserviced districts at the suburban fringe, where household tasks were more arduous. In both cases the growth in owner-occupation depended upon an increasing amount of unpaid work within and upon the home. Toronto's experience is exemplary and challenges the belief that, in the early 20th century, suburban homeownership was a middle-class phenomenon. The prevailing model of the city in this period must be revised to incorporate the fact that unpaid labour played a vital role in determining people's housing situation and standard of living.

publication date

  • March 1990