A Sense of Their Duty
Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns
Industrial change, the expansion of government at all levels, and population growth all contributed to profound alterations in Ontario’s social structure between the 1850s and the 1890s. The changing environment created new opportunities, new wealth, and new authority. In urbanizing Ontario, an identifiable and self-identified middle class emerged between the idle rich and the perennial working class. Using the towns of Galt and Goderich as case studies, Andrew Holman shows how middle-class identities were formed at work. He shows how businessmen, professionals, and white-collar workers developed a new sense of authority that extended beyond the workplace. As local electors, members of voluntary associations and reform societies, and breadwinners, middle-class men set standards of proper and expected behavior for themselves and others, standards for respectable behavior that continued to enjoy currency and relevance throughout the twentieth century.
"An outstanding work and a path-breaking treatment of a long neglected aspect of small town community life . .. the writing is superb, the historiographical contextualization first class, and the research exhaustive. " Gerald Tulchinsky, Department of History, Queen's University.