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Graduate Students

Nash-Chambers, Debra - Ph.D

Two Steps Forward or One Step Back? The Impact of Industrialization on Community and Family in a Small Industrial City: Guelph, Ontario, 1861-1881 - Dr. Gilbert Stelter, advisor

         This thesis investigates how and why a smaller industrial city, Guelph, Ontario, exhibited muted examples of the characteristics associated with larger Canadian cities during the transition from the commercial city to the industrial city stage of the nineteenth century city building process. Between 1861 and 1881, a sustained demand for skilled workers and the lesser scale and slower pace of local industrialization prevented Guelph's entry into the industrial age from initiating the more dramatic spatial, demographic and social changes associated with larger sites. As late as 1881, Guelph remained the community of means envisioned by town founder John Galt. Even though the socio-economic disparity between Guelph's wealthiest and poorest inhabitants widened between 1861 and 1881, Guelph remained a community which lacked a significant unskilled occupational sector. In comparison to larger centres, Guelph was an industrializing country town. For most residents, early industrialization represented two discernable steps forward toward an improved quality of life other than a step back. Those household heads most dislocated by industrializing were in declining trades threatened by mechanization, as well as the traditionally disadvantaged such as widows of limited assets, the very old, the very young and the labouring poor. Historiographically, the Guelph profile is a response to the paucity of quantitative case studies of the physical and demographic contours of the formative years of industrialization in smaller Canadian cities. It is intended to complement a significant body of literature analysing the early years of industrialization in larger Canadian cities. The Guelph analysis includes the application of household and neighborhood reconstruction techniques using manuscript census and assessment rolls for 1861, 1871 and 1881. An 'exact match' record linkage system was devised to computer link the two sets of manuscript records for the universe of household heads in all three census years.

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.