The cultural impact of the suburbs

Back when the late Rob Ford won his surprise mayoral victory in 2010 – certainly a surprise for his opponents, who couldn’t imagine how decisively he’d win – the electoral post-mortems painted his triumph as the revenge of the suburbs that once comprised a group of independent townships over the downtown, Toronto’s older urban core.

It was a battle between the suburbs and the city, won this time by the suburbs, who rallied behind various standards – summed up in the media as a love of cars, ethnic and cultural homogeneity and lower property taxes. As with any history written by the losers – the media, for the most part, who identified as urbanite, not suburbanite – it relied on conveniently ignoring facts that didn’t fit, and the deployment of sweeping generalizations, many of them out of date – if they were ever true at all – by decades.