Ethnic Residential Segregation The Solidarity of The Group



ETHNIC RESIDENTIAL SEGREGATION: THE SOLIDARITY OF THE GROUP


The urban metropolis and its function in society cannot be understood without studying its composition as a city of immigrants, their newcomer families and friends and the ties that bind them. By overlooking the ethnic culture and networks of the city\'s immigrants, the study of the urban centre is at best a futile effort.
Ethnic tendencies and particularly ethnic residential segregation, are areas of examination than cannot be neglected if we are to understand the individual and group experiences that ultimately influence urban growth. It is therefore important to carefully explore these areas so that insight into the underpinnings of the urban metropolis is achieved.
Looking at Canadian urban centres from 1850-1920, specifically the city of Toronto, I will examine the issue of ethnic residential segregation and its significance to the urban centre. I will attempt to prove that this phenomenon is a consequence of ethnic concentration in particular industries resulting from ethnic networks and socio-economic inequalities present within society. Furthermore, the existence of these vibrant yet segregated ethnic communities does not imply that assimilation is failing to occur. Consequently, standard assimilation frameworks, which assume that proximity to the majority group increases with socio-economic gains, must be re-evaluated.
Urban and historical geographers have become increasingly interested in studying residential segregation through the context of changes in the industrial workplace (Scott, 1986). A number of industries like clothing, textile, iron and steel have employed large proportions of immigrant workers (Leiberson, 1933). Toronto is no exception.
Early immigrant settlers came to North America in search of a \'better\' life and increased economic opportunities (Lindstrom-Best, 1979) and Toronto\'s economic ambience appealed to them.
1850\'s Toronto saw increased prosperity with expanding enterprises, jobs and especially railway building. By the 1860\'s, when this first rail construction boom had faded, the city blossomed into a regionally dominant railway centre with track access throughout the province, into adjoining Montreal, Detroit and New York. More importantly though, steam and iron transport expansion unravelled the way for industrialization (Harney, 1985). Toronto\'s harbourfront thrived with rail traffic, entailing machine and engine works, coal-yards, moulding and forging plants and steam-driven factories (Globe, 1866). The new gas works, the Grand Trunk Railway workshops, the Toronto Rolling Mills, and the Gooderham and Worts distillery exemplified this flourishing industrialization. Moreover, other processing operations, such as wood or hardware manufactories, tanneries and meat-packing houses accompanied industrial growth. All in all, by the 1860\'s, working opportunities in the city could readily urge on its settlement, which consequently began to accelerate rapidly (Harney, 1985).
In light of these increased working opportunities distinct Torontonian neighbourhoods developed. St. John\'s Ward bounded by Henderson, Yonge, Front and University and the Italian neighbourhoods bounded by Henderson, Manning, Dundas and Ossington are just two of the distinct communities that resulted.
By the 1900\'s, the \'Ward\' as it was popularly know, primarily consisted of East Europeans of Jewish descent. They initially settled in the Ward because they had little choice. Upon their arrival, they were in immediate need of cheap accommodation near steady employment (Harney, 1985). St. John\'s Ward, adjacent to the commercial centre of the city, provided them this opportunity. They had relatively few skills and no credit although their affinity for the garment industry proved valuable (Speisman, 1979). Suffice it is to say, the Ward was in close proximity to this industry.
During the early twentieth century, the notable clothing firms, the Lowndes Co., Johnson Brothers and others were located on Front Street, Wellington Street, Church and Bay. By 1910, the T. Eaton company had erected an enormous manufacturing firm bounded by Bay, Albert, Louisa and James. This company would eventually grow to be the largest sole employer of Jews in the Ward (Harney, 1985).
Factory employees elected to reside near their places of employment (Harney, 1985). Working long hours, they wished to minimize travelling time thus choosing to live close to the companies that employed them. In addition, as proximity to major clothing firms increased, so too did employment opportunities. The Ward, similar to many other areas throughout North America, thus evolved into an immigrant haven adjacent to the central business district. Despite the fact that not all Jews made their livelihoods in clothing factories, it was the factories\' presence and proximity to