Bramalea: a Utopian dream?

Whenever I am describing Bramalea to someone out here in Ottawa/Gatineau (where I now live) who has never heard of it, or if I am writing academically about it, I often use the term “Utopia”, or at least the phrase “almost Utopian”. Certainly this concept can be applied to the early dream of what Bramalea was to become, and this is demonstrated in some of the early marketing pieces for the new city. As we all know, a Utopia can never really exist, but in the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the designers and planners of Bramalea tried their best to create a new city which would be as close to perfect as possible. Things have changed in the intervening years, but it is always fun to look back at the Bramalea that was to be.

Here is a selection of some advertisements – with a bit of (sometimes cheeky) commentary and highlights from the text. Some of my comments may seem harsh, but I am just poking fun of the naiveté of the time. Bramalea would not be the place it is today were it not for the dream of building a better place to live.


Toronto Daily Star, September 12, 19592-59sept12a

Toronto Daily Star, September 12, 1959 3-59sept12b

Toronto Daily Star, September 12, 1959 4-60jul16

Toronto Daily Star, July 16, 1960

Hold it!! Play it safe or you will be sorry. Nothing like scare tactics to make you buy a house. My favourite part is above the map and the statement: “your route to future happiness”.


Toronto Daily Star, February 4, 1961

“Planned for modern Canadians…a community where people do not conform to the environment, but where the environment is designed to conform to the requirements of people” – I am not sure what that all means. Also note that Bramalea is “free from the dust and grime, the noise, the traffic jams and the galloping crowds of the city”. If only they had a crystal ball…


Toronto Daily Star, February 11, 1961 7-61feb18

Toronto Daily Star, February 18, 1961 8-61feb25 woman

Toronto Daily Star, February 25, 1961


Detail of advertisement above.

The write up is very much in keeping with the gender roles of the time.

Toronto Daily Star, February 25, 1961


Toronto Daily Star, April 22, 1961

“A new city is abuilding just outside of Toronto”. It is interesting that the sales office was open every day of the week until 9:00pm.


Toronto Daily Star, June 30, 1961

“Smooth driving wherever you go”.

14-61sept16 gm

The Globe and Mail, September 16, 1961


Toronto Daily Star, October 28, 1961

“No pioneering is required by house owners”.


Toronto Daily Star, October 28, 1961

“A sodded safety barrier to keep your children off the street”…perhaps this is referring to the greenbelts?


Toronto Daily Star, February 10, 1962

“At Bramalea you are in for a ‘space surprise’…Everything is bigger, except the price”. It is also good to know that the houses came with “electric light fixtures”.


Toronto Daily Star, June 2, 1962


Toronto Daily Star, September 22, 1962

“A vision for the future is taking shape. Better living in a planned community”. Plus “the advantages of ‘here to-day – Here Tomorrow Planning’. At Bramalea we won’t ‘love you and leave you'”.


Toronto Daily Star, October 6, 1962 23-62oct6

Toronto Daily Star, October 6, 1962 24-62oct10

Toronto Daily Star, October 10, 1962

“Yesterday a dream for the future, Canada’s First Suburban City, Bramalea, is now a reality”.


Toronto Daily Star, October 20, 1962

“Bramalea’s 30 year development plan ensures you a steady controlled growth and the materializing of all the better-living facilities that Bramalea’s planning engineers have designed to make Bramalea an urban dream in a suburban setting”. Was the 30 year plan still followed after the amalgamation with Brampton and the creation of Peel Region in 1974?


Toronto Daily Star, January 12, 1963

Was there actually a big billboard for Bramalea?


Toronto Daily Star, April 27, 1963 29-63jun22

Toronto Daily Star, June 22, 1963


Toronto Daily Star, February 1, 196431-64apr18

Toronto Daily Star, April 18, 196432-64jun6

Toronto Daily Star, June 6, 1964


Toronto Daily Star, September 26, 1964

“A new concept in better living”.


Toronto Daily Star, September 26, 1964 36-65mar13full

Toronto Daily Star, March 13, 1965


Detail of above advertisement.

Toronto Daily Star, May 8, 1965 39-65sep4

Toronto Daily Star, September 4, 1965 40-65dec31

Toronto Daily Star, December 31, 1965

Bonnie Bramalea! She was a short-lived mascot for Bramalea. It appears that she lived in the bubble of Bramalea, shielded from the 1960s world at large: race riots in the United States, the possibility of the Cold War turning into a hot war (nuclear war), etc. The fact that she has no pupils is somewhat creepy!



Toronto Daily Star, December 31, 1965 42-66jun4

Toronto Daily Star, June 4, 196643-67may6

Toronto Daily Star, May 6, 1967


Toronto Daily Star, August 1, 1967 45-67aug12

Toronto Daily Star, August 12, 1967

“Better planning means better living in Bramalea”.


Toronto Daily Star, February 17, 1968

“The young fry and teeners, they’re all influenced by living in a city that’s progressive”. Did kids young fry really parade through the streets in the 1960s?


Toronto Daily Star, February 24, 1968 68mar2

Toronto Daily Star, March 2, 1968 68mar9

Toronto Daily Star, March 9, 1968

“Bramalea didn’t just happen. It was made to happen”. Also of note: “There is no traffic congestion. No smog. No urban sprawl…Bramalea is planned to remain that way”. I am not sure how you can plan to not have smog…


Toronto Daily Star, September 12, 1969

“Beautiful fresh air always”. Always? That is a pretty hard promise to keep…but then again, they did promise that there would be no smog, because it was planned that way. Apparently Bramalea was a “famous name” by 1969.

For more utopian advertisements for Bramalea, please visit my other post at:

2 thoughts on “Bramalea: a Utopian dream?

  1. Pingback: 100 Blog Posts! | bramaleablog

  2. Pingback: Blog posts on early Bramalea | bramaleablog

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