By Andrew Holman
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Extra info for A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns
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.
The benefits of relentless work for those who toiled "from sun 'til sun" in reproductive and domestic labour were harder to see and appreciate. Work was a public event, the producer ideology of the 18505 and 6os 25 Work, Authority, and the Middle Class held, and women's domestic labour fell beyond the public gaze. "15 The mid-nineteenth-century idea of society as a community of producers did not die suddenly in the 18705. Some historians have argued that this ideal dominated Canadians' thinking about social order throughout the Victorian period and that a common identity among brain workers and manual workers precluded any development of class feeling.
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. Huron Signal, 2 February 1854 The businessmen of small-town Ontario — merchants, manufacturers, and master artisans — were the most numerous, the most prominent, and arguably the most representative members of the middle class in the late nineteenth century.