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The Local Culture of Property: A Comparative History of Housing Tenure in Montreal and Toronto

Marc Choko and Richard Harris
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Vol. 80, No. 1 (Mar., 1990), pp. 73-95
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2563329
Page Count: 23
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The Local Culture of Property: A Comparative History of Housing Tenure in Montreal and Toronto
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Abstract

In North America, writers have viewed home ownership as a cultural norm, but the extent to which people share this norm varies from place to place. One of the most exceptional cities is Montreal, where home ownership has long been rarer than in other cities, including Toronto, the only Canadian center of similar size. The ups and downs of home ownership in Toronto have generally paralleled wider North American trends, albeit in exaggerated form. By comparison, Montreal's low level of owner-occupation developed between 1862-1921, was maintained until after World War II, and has only recently begun to rise. In part Montreal's experience has been determined by the local form taken by general factors, including income, class and ethnic composition. The combination of these factors gave rise to a pattern of social institutions and household behavior, or "culture of property," that acquired autonomous importance. Montreal's culture of property was unique, but this city was not unique in having its own. Even today, such cultures shape local housing conditions and, given the importance of housing, the character of place.

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