Trefann Court Revisited: The Activist Afterlives of John Sewell and Edna Dixon


  • Simon Vickers University of Toronto



In the late 1960s, a group of working-class residents and professional activists in Trefann Court, Toronto, convinced City Hall to abandon a proposal for the urban renewal of their neighbourhood. In the years since, activists and historians have celebrated Trefann Court as a defining blow to technocratic urban planning and the launch point for the career of reform politician John Sewell. Drawing on the archive left by Graham Fraser, the author of the foundational work on Trefann Court, this article introduces an alternative reading that centres the locally embedded organizing of working-class women residents. A closer look at the motivations of activists like Edna Dixon demonstrates a need to ground Trefann in a longer history of poor and working-class people’s efforts to mobilize.

Author Biography

Simon Vickers, University of Toronto

PhD candidate in the Department of History at University of Toronto.