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Booming Suburbs

Gallery 3: Modern Canada ⟶ Sovereignty and Prosperity ⟶ Postwar Prosperity and Growth

Canada’s population swelled after the war, fuelled by increased immigration and a spike in the birth rate known as the baby boom. With 15 years of economic hardship and war behind them, many Canadians dreamed of a home in the suburbs for their growing families. Their children — the baby boomers — grew up in a world of new ideas about parenting, family and childhood. They created and consumed a distinctive youth culture.

The Baby Boom

Graph showing number of births per year in Canada from 1930 to 1970

Graph showing number of births per year in Canada from 1930 to 1970

Parents of the Baby Boom

This clothing belonged to Amelia Zalewski. She married Roger Laplante at the end of the war and had five children in nine years. Roger’s career in engineering meant that the family moved often: they lived in the suburban communities of Burlington, Ontario, and Baie-D’Urfé, Quebec, in the 1950s and early 1960s. Amelia was a volunteer at her church and with the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.


Children’s Culture

Baby boomers grew up in a society that valued nurturing children rather than using strict discipline. Play and involvement in clubs and children’s organizations were seen as key factors in healthy development. Children’s toys and games were both big business and a reflection of social attitudes about appropriate gender roles. These artifacts represent popular toys and games from the period. Are any of them familiar to you?

Child’s Mountie suit and box

Photo at top of page:
N.H.L. Pro table hockey game
Eagle Toys Ltd., 1950 to 1955
CMH, 988.44.1