Crestwood Heights: A North American Suburb

By John R. Seeley, R. Alexander Sim, Elizabeth W. Loosley

© 1954

Crestwood Heights is a study of a well-known Canadian community. It is located within the borders of one of Canada's big cities; its name symbolizes success, wealth, and social prestige; its inhabitants possess as many of the "good things of life" as most human beings ever aspire to.

This penetrating study of how the people of "Crestwood Heights" live, how they raise and educate their children, how they compete socially and economically, is of absorbing interest -- not as a revelation of the basic unhappiness of a wealthy community, but as an illumination of the dilemmas in which modern Western middle-class people find themselves everywhere. Readers in any North American city will recognize at once the startling similarity between the problems of those who live in "Crestwood Heights," and of their own suburban dwellers. To the extent that each seeks to build his life nearer to the North American Dream, as depicted in films and glossy magazines, he will see his own perplexities and frustrations mirrored in Crestwood Heights. A team of highly trained social scientists spent five years in intensive research in order to compile the study. The people of "Crestwood Heights" responded with warmth and candour to the inquiries of the investigators -- as a highly educated and intelligent community, they were themselves deeply concerned with modern problems of living.

The frankness of the admissions in this volume may surprise readers unaccustomed to the methods of modern social investigation, but they give to the book a reality and force which one ordinarily expects to find only in fiction.

"Crestwood Heights" represents what life for the middle class in North America is coming more and more to be; it is the norm to which middle-class community life now tends to move. In "Crestwood Heights," attractive homes, complete with gardens and gadgets, line the well-kept streets, and nearby is Big City with its offices, university, hotels, and department stores -- in Big City is achieved the material abundance which supports in North American dream.

"Crestwood Heights" is also a key, a "critical" community. It is critical for today because in it live makers of opinion, leaders in the professions, business, and politics. It is critical for tomorrow because the way it shapes its children will have an important effect in the next generation.

The rearing of children is a major preoccupation in "Crestwood Heights." Indeed, it is in the name of the children that the intense struggle to achieve and the continuing effort to maintain life in this community are carried on. During their investigation, the social scientists held numerous free discussions with parents and teachers and administrators, and with ordinary school children -- in this book the "best" in modern public education is described and analyzed by those who participate in it. From the school, the inquiry extended to homes, to clubs, to recreational activities, to religious organizations, and to the function of the many "experts" who advise parents and teachers.

A Crestwood Heights is to be seen in and around almost any great city on the North American continent, from New York to San Francisco, from Halifax to Vancouver. For thousands who struggle to translate the promise of North America into a concrete reality for themselves and for their children. It is in some sense a Mecca. It is important to try to understand what it is live in this Mecca so ardently sought for.

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Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 514 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED DEC 1954

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Quick Overview

Crestwood Heights is a study of a well-known Canadian community. It is located within the borders of one of Canada's big cities; its name symbolizes success, wealth, and social prestige; its inhabitants possess as many of the "good things of life" as most human beings ever aspire to.

Crestwood Heights: A North American Suburb

By John R. Seeley, R. Alexander Sim, Elizabeth W. Loosley

© 1954

Crestwood Heights is a study of a well-known Canadian community. It is located within the borders of one of Canada's big cities; its name symbolizes success, wealth, and social prestige; its inhabitants possess as many of the "good things of life" as most human beings ever aspire to.

This penetrating study of how the people of "Crestwood Heights" live, how they raise and educate their children, how they compete socially and economically, is of absorbing interest -- not as a revelation of the basic unhappiness of a wealthy community, but as an illumination of the dilemmas in which modern Western middle-class people find themselves everywhere. Readers in any North American city will recognize at once the startling similarity between the problems of those who live in "Crestwood Heights," and of their own suburban dwellers. To the extent that each seeks to build his life nearer to the North American Dream, as depicted in films and glossy magazines, he will see his own perplexities and frustrations mirrored in Crestwood Heights. A team of highly trained social scientists spent five years in intensive research in order to compile the study. The people of "Crestwood Heights" responded with warmth and candour to the inquiries of the investigators -- as a highly educated and intelligent community, they were themselves deeply concerned with modern problems of living.

The frankness of the admissions in this volume may surprise readers unaccustomed to the methods of modern social investigation, but they give to the book a reality and force which one ordinarily expects to find only in fiction.

"Crestwood Heights" represents what life for the middle class in North America is coming more and more to be; it is the norm to which middle-class community life now tends to move. In "Crestwood Heights," attractive homes, complete with gardens and gadgets, line the well-kept streets, and nearby is Big City with its offices, university, hotels, and department stores -- in Big City is achieved the material abundance which supports in North American dream.

"Crestwood Heights" is also a key, a "critical" community. It is critical for today because in it live makers of opinion, leaders in the professions, business, and politics. It is critical for tomorrow because the way it shapes its children will have an important effect in the next generation.

The rearing of children is a major preoccupation in "Crestwood Heights." Indeed, it is in the name of the children that the intense struggle to achieve and the continuing effort to maintain life in this community are carried on. During their investigation, the social scientists held numerous free discussions with parents and teachers and administrators, and with ordinary school children -- in this book the "best" in modern public education is described and analyzed by those who participate in it. From the school, the inquiry extended to homes, to clubs, to recreational activities, to religious organizations, and to the function of the many "experts" who advise parents and teachers.

A Crestwood Heights is to be seen in and around almost any great city on the North American continent, from New York to San Francisco, from Halifax to Vancouver. For thousands who struggle to translate the promise of North America into a concrete reality for themselves and for their children. It is in some sense a Mecca. It is important to try to understand what it is live in this Mecca so ardently sought for.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Series: Heritage
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 514 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 0.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    JOHN R. SEELEY was born in London, England, in 1913, and received his early education in England and Germany. Experience in a variety of occupations after his arrival in Canada in 1929 led him to an interest in psychological and sociological problems, and he took an A.B. in Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1942. He has been engaged in a number of observations of various social situations, and at present is executive director of Community Surveys, Indianapolis, a non-profit research organization studying the social services of a middle-size American city.



    R. ALEXANDER SIM was born in Saskatchewan in 1911 , and educated in Ontario. He received his degree in sociology from the University of Toronto in 1938, and took graduate work in the same field. He has served as Director of Adult Education for McGill University, was the first secretary of the National Farm Radio Forum, and was one of the founders of Laquemac, a bilingual summer school of community programs. He has been closely associated with adult education, and is now Chief of the Liaison Division, Canadian Citizenship Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration.

    ELIZABETH W. LOOSLEY was born in Hamilton, Ontario, and graduated from the University of Toronto in Modern Languages. She became interested in adult education and community organization while working with the Toronto Public Libraries. She has pursued this interest in adult education at the University of London, the University of Chicago, and Macdonald College, and is now editor of Food for Thought, the official journal of the Canadian Association of Adult Education.

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