.. al Benefit Society was one answer to this problem for the ethnic Jews of Toronto. The establishment served to facilitate Jewish immigrants with difficult times following their arrival, and to assist them in transporting other family members to the city from the old country (Harney, 1985). Thus at the level of the individual, ethnic networks and resources are the structural links between destination and origin which mediate the migrant’s integration into a new society (Locher, 1979). They contribute to the creation of an ethnic neighbourhood where immigrants of the same cultural background assist one another with incorporation in the new society. Though the integration may be slow or tedious, perhaps even generations long, it is a clear indication of incorporation into society and not a lack of assimilation as Hawley (1944) suggests. Evidently than the concentration of immigrants in a particular neighbourhood, results from the availability of housing, work and ethnic networks, which facilitate this initial settlement and occupational adjustment.
However, these are not the only factors contributing to the creation of neighbourhoods and ethnic residential segregation. For some groups, their patterns of segregation may to some extent suggest a lack of social acceptance by the larger society (Breton & Isajiw & Kalbach & Reitz, 1990). Examination of this entails an understanding of Toronto’s population composition. Historically Toronto’s British have enjoyed undisputed numerical, political, economic and social dominance (Kalbach, 1980). As anxiety increased over the years concerning the ‘quality’ of immigrants settling in Canada, increasing numbers of restrictions were placed on those particular ethnic groups which were thought not to be of the best quality. The preference was for immigrants of British origins, northern and western Europeans, and those born in the United States because they could identify with Canada’s British heritage and more adequately handle the harshness of the northern climate. Immigrants from central, eastern, and southern European countries, the Middle East, Asia and other non-European countries have encountered numerous restrictions associated with the extent to which their language, customs and appearance differed from the Anglo-Saxon standard (Kalbach, 1980).
These restrictions alone indicate the presence of discrimination and a hierarchy of ethnic preferences although the discrimination does not end here. Incorporation of a minority group into a majority involves two sets of processes: one on the side of members of ethnic groups and another on the part of individuals and institutions of the greater society (Gordon, 1964) These two groups must work together to entail integration and to promote assimilation. Unfortunately this has not been the case. Toronto’s Anglo-Saxon majority did not help much in making foreigners feel at home. In fact they blatantly discriminated against them and this perpetuated ethnic residential segregation. Evidence of this discrimination, quite readily found in Toronto’s daily newspaper The Globe (1918) read: “PASSENGERS PROTEST AGAINST FOREIGNERS Passengers on the Toronto Suburban car..
last evening, showed their displeasure at having to travel into the city with 50 foreigners, who were in charge of three county constables. Women in the car protested to the constables, who could do nothing having instructions to escort the men from a Weston plant to their homes in the city. This was the first time that the foreigners have used the radial. Until yesterday they came into the city by the steam railway. (Globe, 1918)” Clearly demonstrating the majority’s intolerance of immigrants, this article displays their prejudice. It is evident that the ‘foreigners’ were, for the first time, allowed access to the radial on that particular date in 1918.
The fact that they were not provided access to all of society’s amenities until that point in time plainly implicates discrimination. Furthermore, their restricted access to transportation indicates an obstruction of assimilation and reinforcement of ethnic residential segregation. As a result of these restrictions, immigrants had no choice but to live as close to their workplace as possible, spatially segregated from the majority population. Discrimination in the workplace was also an issue. Although most immigrants lacked the occupational skills necessary for upward mobility the few who did possess superior skills were denied access to many sectors of the workforce (Harney, 1985). All foreigners knew, for example, that there was no work for them in government agencies.
By way of illustration, Toronto’s Hydro Commission employed only workers of British origin under the pretext that well-spoken English was an exclusive requirement (Harney, 1985) Similarly, this workforce discrimination was indicative of a failure of the majority to accept the minority, resulting in an impeded assimilation process. Ethnic residential segregation was also reinforced as immigrants continued working in the factories and shops that surrounded them and did not place such restrictions upon them. Assimilation frameworks must subsequently be re-evaluated. Spatial segregation, to some degree, may indicate a lack of assimilation. However, it may be the majority who cannot find it within themselves to accept others. As an urban space divided into many sections, Toronto spoke to each immigrant group in a distinct manner. Since their established and refined British neighbours saw the city differently, they misunderstood the newcomers’ behaviour (Harvey, 1985).
Subsequently, the majority and not the minority group impeded the process of assimilation. In its entirety ethnic residential segregation can be linked to many factors, which have not been discussed within the context of this paper. However, my main purpose was to illuminate the role of ethnic divisions of labour in creating housing patterns, ethnic networks in solidifying these patterns and, discrimination in perpetuating spatially segregated neighbourhoods. We must also keep in mind that assimilation is not always a natural procedure and thus cannot adequately explain the process of ethnic segregation. It is necessary to look beyond models that accentuate ideal methods of dispersal because we do not live in an ideal world.
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