In recent weeks, Professor David Gordon’s research into the suburban landscape of Canada has served as the basis for articles in the Globe and Mail: “Politicians need to remember that this is a suburban, car-commuting nation,” (John Ibbotson) and “Canada may be a suburban nation, but that’s because of policy as much as preference” (Rino Bortolin et al). While there is consensus between authors on the classification of Canada as a “suburban nation,” each piece leverages Dr. Gordon’s research quite differently to argue the contributing factors and implications of Canada’s residential complexion. Are we a suburban nation due to public preference, or as a consequence of public policy?

Professor Gordon published the Canadian Suburbs Atlas in October 2023, updated with 2021 census data and completed while he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Toronto’s School of Cities. Dr. Gordon worked with students at the University of Toronto and Toronto Metropolitan University to develop this latest version of the research, which is unique in providing a detailed analysis of large and small cities across Canada. 

While the Canadian Suburbs Atlas is successful as a comprehensive reference document that illustrates the growth rates of suburban populations from a variety of metrics, Professor Gordon’s other research acknowledges the role of public policy in this expansion and describes the multi-pronged planning policy approach that created this suburban nation. Understanding this historical path is essential to achieve a balance of urban and suburban growth in the future. The key turning point in our path to becoming a suburban nation was an obscure 1944 federal post-war reconstruction document, known as the Curtis Report, after its Chair, Professor Clifford Curtis of the Queen’s Economics Department.

In the past month, Dr. Gordon has published three refereed articles on this topic, wrapping up a six year SSHRC research study:

  • “The Curtis Report as a Critical Juncture in Canadian Urbanism,” Planning Perspectives; pre-published January 2024, pp. 1-31 (R). DOI: 
  • “The Post-War Revival of Canadian Planning: Assessing the Impact of the Community Planning Association of Canada” Journal of Planning History, pre-published January 2024 (with Miranda Virginillo, MPL’22), pp.1-16 (R). DOI:
  • “The Disappearing Grid: How the Canadian Government Changed Suburban Community Design, 1944-69” Journal of Urban Design, pre-published November 2023 (with Matthew Harding, MPL’23) pp. 1-29 (R) DOI:

Visit the Canadian Suburbs Atlas and Professor Gordon’s affiliate research website,, to learn more about the important research that has sparked a national discourse on Canada’s suburban character.

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