The previous post looked at the location of some of Toronto's ethnic communities on the eve of World War II. In this post I will look at the social geography of Toronto around this time, drawing from the work of geographer Daniel Hiebert.
Hiebert shows a city divided on class and ethnic lines. While Toronto is now largely characterized by an increasingly affluent and gentrified core with the poor increasingly living on the periphery, at this time Toronto more or less conformed to the Chicago School concentric ring model. Hence, "the rate of home ownership and the size and quality of housing...all tended to increase with distance from the city centre" (p. 61). The "inner city" between Dovercourt Rd. and the Don River south of Bloor had older, lower cost housing and was home to the majority of the city's eastern and southern European and Chinese residents. Residents with origins in the British Isles showed a tendency to vacate the inner city and move to outlying districts.
The above map (p. 61) shows assessed housing values in 1931. The poorest areas were all located south of College/Carlton St. (including Cabbagetown, the Ward and Kensington Market) while the most expensive housing was located in a large northern area (including the Annex, Rosedale and the Avenue Rd. "hill district") as well as on the western fringe near High Park.
Hiebert (p. 63) also includes the average assessed dwelling value for occupational groups. For the city as a whole, the average dwelling was assessed at $2,304. 46.2% of householders owned their dwelling, which ranged from 78.9% for capitalists to 29.7% for unskilled workers.
Capitalists (1.9% of sample) $6802
Professionals/managers (11%) $4177
Self-employed (21.1%) $2624
White collar workers (15.8%) $2343
Skilled blue collar workers (35.2%) $1744
Unskilled workers (15.1%) $1202
Daniel Hiebert, The Social Geography of Toronto in 1931: A Study of Residential Differentiation and Social Structure, in Journal of Historical Geography 21, 1 (1995): 55-74