Planning Toronto

The Planners, The Plans, Their Legacies, 1940-80

Table of contents



1 Planning Takes Root, 1940-54

Planning and the War

The City Planning Board

A New Kind of World

Beyond the City

Legacy: The Planners versus the People

2 Planning the Metropolis, 1954-70

The Metropolitan Toronto Planning Board

Planning Suburbia

The Metropolitan Project

Legacy: Metropolitan Planning Achieved

3 Modernizing a Conservative City, 1954-70

Defining the Problems

Planning the Solutions

Cautious Modernization

Legacy: Conservative Modernization

4 Regional Interventions, 1962-76

Conceiving the Plan

Rejecting the Plan

Legacy: The Unplanned Region

5 Planning Transformed, 1968-80

The Roots of Transformation

Planning and Reform

The Demise of Big-Picture Planning

Legacy: Reform Planning

Epilogue: The New Paradigm and the Old




Planning Toronto is a comprehensive and lively exploration of how Toronto’s postwar plans came to be, who devised them, and how they shaped the city.


In this lavishly illustrated book, Richard White reveals how urban planning contributed to Toronto becoming a functional, world-class city: the “city that works. ” Focusing on the period from 1940 to 1980, he examines how planners shaped the city and its development amid local and international obstacles and influences. Based on meticulous research of Toronto’s postwar plans and supplemented by dozens of interviews, Planning Toronto provides a comprehensive and lively explanation of how Toronto’s postwar plans—city, metropolitan, and regional—came to be, who devised them, and what impact they had.


  • Winner, Fred Landon Award, Ontario Historical Society 2016


[White’s] exhaustive account spans from the 1940s, when Torontonians embraced government-led solutions for servicing a rapidly urbanizing country, to 1980, by which time citizens were firmly entrenched at the centre of the planning process. Balancing academic rigour with readability, Planning Toronto is the definitive history of Toronto area urban planning. Teasing out remarkable nuance in some well-known events, White also pushes readers to reconsider what they already know—or don’t—about the city’s urban development in those decades.

- Kevin Plummer

Planning Toronto is an extremely useful teaching tool for urban designers, planners, and administrators and for those doing more in-depth research on planning in Toronto.

- Tanu Sankalia, University of San Francisco