Lecture 19 – Economy and Society in the mid 19 Century th
A number of major themes dominated the society of these years:
- A sense of major geographical movement, mainly out of the older and more settled rural
- Class structure of society began to take shape and to solidify
- An enormous expansion of voluntary organizations of all sorts occurred
Many families would uproot constantly up to 10-20 times and constantly changed jobs. The need
for a sense of belonging in an era of change helps explain the expansion of private associations
devoted to non-occupational and non-economic goals.
The temperance movement crusaded against drunkenness, but it was also a way of reacting
against new immigration, mainly Irish, and asserting a sense of Protestant hegemony.
Rural overpopulation produced some migrants who would settle and tame undeveloped regions
and others who would provide a labour force for industrialization.
The urbanized workforce quickly turned into the landless working class. At the other end,
merchants became bankers, financiers, and industrialists and became far wealthier.
As Canadian cities began the shift from commercial depots to industrial and financial centres
they already contained inequalities in terms of wealth and income distribution. In Hamilton for
example, the most affluent 10% of the city held almost 90% of its propertied wealth, drew nearly
half its income, and