By Andrew Holman
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Extra resources for A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns
In the same era, revolutionary changes in commerce took place. 2 Neither of these processes, of course, was a smooth, uniform transition; nor did they take root with equal effect in every locale. Ontario towns experienced industrialization and the merchandising revolution in varying measures. Many elements of the nineteenth-century business world, moreover, remained mostly untouched by transformations in industry and commerce. In the era of competitive capitalism, the most common models of enterprise were not the large factory and the department store but local production, retail for local consumption, and the small, family-run business.
Throughout the years 1850-90, Canadians and travellers in Canada spoke often about social class; they even spoke about the middle class. However, an important cognitive and discursive transition took place in these years. The middle class about which social commentators spoke in the 18305 and 405 was an ill-defined and importedidea - a "fictive" middle class that had more to do with British bourgeois behavioural norms than with local social 16 A Sense of Their Duty structural reality. 27 In Canada, in these years, where virtually all classes were composed of "new men," social divisions rooted in landedness, past military leadership, inherited nobility, or Old World ideas about social place began to lose their relevance.
Occupational identity among non-manual workers was the building block for the formation of a local middle class. Victorian Ontario towns like Gait and Goderich were local arenas for the confluence of these identities and the making of a middle class. i Boosters, Bluster, and Bonding: Enterprise and Middle-Class Formation [T]he prosperity of the Town is very much in the hands of our commercial men, [and] they can make [of it] almost what they like. But the whole community, Agricultural, Mechanical, and Professional, have many invaluable interests staked upon the course which the men who set themselves up as the exchangers of commodities may choose to take.
A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns by Andrew Holman