By Dr. Donald G. Wetherell Ph.D., Irene R.A. Kmet, Donald, G. Wetherell, Irene, R.A. Kmet
Within the prairies, the small city rests with ease in our stories as a atmosphere of youth innocence, reliable neighbours and balance. via following the advance of "Main Streets" in 9 Alberta cities, Wetherell and Kmet current a close list of a mostly vanished lifestyle.
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Extra info for Town Life: Main Street and the Evolution of Small Town Alberta,
While reports of murder, infidelity and selfishness in city papers were depressing, reports in town papers renewed "faith in life. Here are set forth only that which uplifts the community—the activities of the businessmen, the church news, the civic good accomplished by the women, school gatherings" and the like. 40 Such views of the city seem to have been widely accepted, but an equally strong, although contradictory, impulse also existed. Running like a fault line through town attitudes was a love/hate relationship with cities.
Town culture also developed within a general belief that the differences between towns and cities were not only distinctions of power and future prospects but of culture. In comparison to the city, the town was friendly, sociable and safe. Its familiarity and supposed homogeneity created an orderly environment which expressed a social ideal for its proponents. Yet, the challenge of the city could not be dismissed or ignored. While towns continued to see themselves as representing a moral and ideal culture, they recognized that they had to meet city living standards and civic amenities in order to retain their population and their economic relationship with farmers.
Instead of fears that incorporation brought only spendthrift government and ruinous taxes, it was now an eagerly courted symbol of growth and future prospects, and deemed the only practical way to obtain public services. Indicating this changed attitude, it was proudly noted in 1910 that 50 18 TOWN LIFE Land speculation was an integral part of early town culture. This 1914 photo shows people waiting for the Dominion Land Office to open in Peace River. Note the man on the right who came equipped to sleep over the night in the line.