Unique. Eclectic. Colourful. Vibrant. Diverse. Charming. Artistic.
Those who know this neighbourhood, know those words don’t even begin to encompass the experience that is Kensington Market.
Colourful Victorian houses, old synagogues, vintage shops, cafés & restaurants, a “garden car” and so much street art. Add in a pedestrian only party in the streets once a month, and it is easily one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Toronto.
For the short and sweet history of Kensington and it’s diversity:
The 1880’s brought the Irish & Scottish labourer immigrants, followed by eastern European & Italian Jewish immigrants. After the second world war there were Portuguese immigrants fleeing the Azores from political conflict and a wave of both Caribbean and Eastern Asian immigrants. Then there was the American political refugees after the war in Vietnam. The Chinese immigrants joined in as next door neighbourhood Chinatown grew too large. The 80’s & 90’s brought in groups of immigrants from Central America, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Iran, Vietnam and Chile.
Jon and I noticed that it seems with each diverse group that immigrated to Kensington, they didn’t take over the area to call it their own. Each group and era it came in added a layer beside the already existing layers. As you look around today, you feel each and every immigrant community who once called the streets of Kensington Market home.
In saying all of this, you can see how all of your senses will be at work as you walk around the world in these few city blocks. And there is literally something for everyone and anyone. Beside an organic vegan café may be a Tibetan restaurant. Next to the Italian pizzeria is a vintage clothing shop. Beside one of the many cannabis dispensaries is a Mexican tortilleria. You want a good Jamaican patty or a Chilean empanada and then go shopping for your fresh produce and meats, we know a few places. Do you like to people watch? Dog watch? Street musician watch? You can do all of it on practically every street corner.
But I digress, let’s get back to this pedestrian party I mentioned earlier:
The last Sunday of every month, from May until October, Pedestrian Sundays happen. From noon until 7pm there is a party in the streets that you won’t soon forget. The streets are closed to any car traffic and then becomes a great rolling sea of people. Most of the shops and restaurants set up outside on the street to tempt you as you walk by, while musicians and artists litter the areas to entertain. From the Pedestrian Sundays we’ve been to, you also never know when you might find a flash mob or an unexpected parade erupting. I will put a disclaimer here *do not attempt Pedestrian Sundays if you don’t like crowds*. It is the perfect opportunity to people watch until your eyes bleed, but for some that isn’t their cup of tea. For those who try to stay away from crowds, mid-day during the week is when it’s the calmest.
I could type for days about the history and feel of the Market, but since we are only aiming for a prologue sized blog (and not a novel) to add to our video, I will now glide into this segue ➟ watch our next vlog below! The first in our “Toronto Neighbourhood Series” — Kensington Market.