Toronto Around The Turn of the Century Essay

Submitted By Awesome247
Words: 1289
Pages: 6

A Look into Life in Toronto around the Turn of the Century:

During the late 19th and early 20th century, Toronto was a place to go to for business, to order machinery, or to buy things. Although, it was undergoing changes that would see it grow rapidly, both in size and stature. The high immigration rate resulted in the growth of the population around the turn of the century, and increased the divide between the rich and the poor. Despite this growth there was little change in the roles that men and women played in society at that time. The changing dynamics brought about by the influx of immigrants and the growth of the city made it necessary for some buildings and estates to be repurposed.
Many Torontonians around the turn of the century were immigrants. People flocked to Toronto looking for work, as it was the heart of industry and wealth in Canada. A majority of the immigrants came from England, Scotland, and Ireland, though there were an increasing number of people coming from eastern European and non-English speaking countries. In 1900, the population of Toronto was just under 200,000 and by 1910 it had almost doubled to more than 365,000. Most immigrants during that time lived in terrible conditions, because they could not afford to live in areas with good housing. Instead, many of them were packed into boarding houses or lived in tar-paper shacks in backstreets and laneways. Their “homes” did not have plumbing or running water, so they had to use outhouses. These “immigrant areas”, such as “the ward”, were filthy, and diseases were very common. Most immigrants ended up working at the hardest jobs. They helped to build homes, factories, roads, bridges, and sewers. Some worked in dreary slaughter houses and factories, while others set up small businesses of their own. Although the wages paid to them were low, they had very few needs, and many were able to send money back to their relatives, or help bring other members of their families to Canada. The quantity and variety of immigrants that came from all over the world around the turn of the century, is the main reason that Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world today.
There was a large social and economic divide between the rich and the poor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For the richer segment of society, life was great because they could afford nice, big, Victorian-style houses, in good areas of the city. They could also afford maids and servants to do all the drudge jobs around the house. Many were even lucky enough to have coal gas piped into their homes. All they had to do was turn on a tap and make a spark to light their gas ovens, which would produce heat for cooking things, and making tea and coffee. For the rich, gas made life very easy. Even though they already had servants to do the annoying task of lighting fires very early in the morning, gas was modern and clean, so it became the preferred method. Their houses were warmed by coal furnaces, which their servants would have to tend to because they required frequent stoking. During the summer, people that were well off could also afford artificial refrigeration. For the people who weren’t so well off, life in Toronto was much more difficult. Middle class people, such as the skilled labourers, lived in brick houses. They had to go through the dreary process of getting out of bed at the crack of dawn, and firing up a coal stove to heat their homes. The unskilled labourers lived very similar lives except most lived in wooden houses instead of brick ones. Life for the very poor was terrible. Their homes were sometimes no more than tar-paper shacks. Most people couldn’t afford indoor plumbing, so they had to use outhouses. Anyone, from poor to middle-class, who couldn’t afford servants, had to do annoying housework for themselves, such as restocking on coal when the coal wagons came around. Life in Toronto around the turn of the century was easy for those who had…