City Form and Everyday Life: Toronto's Gentrification and Critical Social Practice


253 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7448-0
DDC 307.76'4'09713541




Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


In the post-World War II period, most North American cities experienced
a sudden depopulation of their city centres as home-buying citizens were
lured to suburbs. Many downtown neighborhoods were razed and replaced
with urban renewal projects. In Toronto, the urban renewal movement was
slowed and eventually stopped

by a countermigration of moneyed homeowners back to the urban core.
Paradoxically, while the working-class homes were saved from the
wrecking ball, the original working-class inhabitants soon found
themselves pushed out by the new affluent homebuyers. This process,
sometimes known as “white painting” or “gentrification,” is the
subject of Caulfield’s jargon-prone book. Gentrification, he points
out, is not merely a case of Yuppie shove. It is caused by many complex
factors, including the deindustrialization of Toronto’s economy,
changing consumer patterns, and other trends already discussed in books
by Jane Jacobs and John Sewell. Caulfield notes that there are two
competing ways of looking at gentrification: the humanist view, which
says that the gentrifiers have rebelled against the modernist urban
movement, and the Marxist view, which sees it as the turning of human
necessity into a commodity. This book, although worthwhile, would have
been much improved with a little more focus.


Caulfield, Jon., “City Form and Everyday Life: Toronto's Gentrification and Critical Social Practice,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 16, 2024,