2004 Winner - Dr. Larry Stuart Bourne
Dr. Larry Stuart Bourne (Photo: Wolf Kutnahorsky)
Growing up in London, Ont., Larry Bourne never witnessed overt poverty. Social disparity surely existed in his hometown, he says, but
it wasn't obvious. It was in Chicago, where he completed a doctorate in urban geography in
the 1960s, that he first encountered an impoverished, segregated and crime-ridden, inner-city
neighbourhood. “The intensity of that urban experience is still with me, and many of the issues
I saw there I am still working on,” says the professor of geography and planning at the University
of Toronto. “Inequalities in urban landscapes were really driven into me in Chicago.” More than
30 years later, Bourne is still grappling with the problem of urban poverty. He is now working
on a study of low-income populations in dian cities. But his body of research spans the spectrum
of critical urban questions, from economic and social inequalities to housing, sprawl, municipal
governance and the changing demographic makeup of our cities.
Bourne’s contributions to the field have been honoured with the 2004
Massey Medal for outstanding achievement in Canadian geography. Established by Governor
General Vincent Massey in 1959, the award is administered by The Royal Canadian Geographical
A prolific author and passionate teacher, Bourne is also “very concerned about the
applied implications of the academic research into Canadian cities,” says Peter Smith,
a professor emeritus of geography at the University of Alberta who has known Bourne since
his days as a graduate student in Edmonton in the early 1960s.
One of the main challenges Bourne believes is facing cities today is immigration, a major
influence on economic growth, social services, schools and housing in large centres like
Toronto and Vancouver.
“The social transformation in Toronto and in Vancouver is unprecedented in modern times
anywhere,” says Bourne. “I can’t think of another city that has gone from being
homogeneous culturally, ethnically and linguistically within half a century — and,
for the most part, within the last two decades — to a place where the majority is now
Bourne’s contributions to urban-policy debates extend beyond local and national issues.
His expertise has been sought by such groups as The World Bank, the International Joint Commission
and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
“What is often forgotten in the policy field is geography,” says Bourne, adding
that he is committed to “making policy-makers and politicians aware of the importance
of geography, of location, of the environment” in urban planning.
— Monique Roy-Sole