Kensington Market in downtown Toronto represents true multiculturalism, with people of many backgrounds owning shops side by side, including Portuguese, East Indian, African, Asian, South American and Caribbean.
This bohemian neighbourhood offers everything you could ask for, with over 245 local, independent businesses, including some of the best vintage clothing shops in the city, eclectic cafes, funky art galleries showcasing local talent, ethnic butchers, grocers, fishmongers and cheese merchants, several bakeries, spice and dry goods stores, as well as a wide variety of dining options, ranging from classic French to Jamaican patties, and Central American treats such as empanadas and arepas.
I’ve been visiting this area since the early-80s and it hasn’t changed much: brightly painted Victorian homes, some of which have been turned into shops lining the narrow streets, alleyways covered in graffiti, modest family-run stores, grocers displaying a colorful outdoor array of exotic fruits and vegetables, and in summer, many cafes and restaurants offer live music on their patios. While real estate prices in the area have increased sharply since then, Kensington still remains a predominantly working class, immigrant community.
This tight-knit neighbourhood has worked hard to preserve its heritage: there are no chain
stores of any kind here. In fact, when Nike opened a shop here about 10 years ago, the locals forced them to shut down and move away. This is a very friendly enclave where organic bakeries take the place of fast-food restaurants, and vegan and vegetarian restaurants are the norm. Remember to bring cash, as many of the smaller shops do not take credit or debit cards.
Because the narrow streets make it challenging for both pedestrians and drivers, the local
businesses have organized a series of Pedestrian Sunday events in August and September from 12pm to 6pm where some streets are closed to motorized traffic.
Google map: bit.ly/MwAbAj
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