About the Neighborhood
- Toronto's most unique neighbourhood, Kensington Market retains its charm and wonderful diversity through its eclectic mix of vintage clothing stores, Latin American grocers, fresh produce, cafes and watering holes. You can sense the city's rich, multicultural mix, obvious in the shops packed with goods from Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East, South America and Asia. It's also a treasure trove of vintage and second hand clothing shops, tucked in among eclectic restaurants and cafés.
- The Kensington neighbourhood is defined by its popular outdoor market, which has become a hot spot for tourists and a popular Toronto shopping destination.
- The international flavour of Kensington Market reflects the diverse cultural mix of this vibrant and colourful Toronto neighbourhood.
- Kensington was originally part of a 100 acre Park Lot granted to Captain John Denison in 1815. By the 1870's, this district had developed into a middle class Anglo-Saxon neighbourhood with distinctive British street names such as Kensington Avenue, Fitzroy Terrace, Oxford Street and Wales Avenue.
- The Kensington neighbourhood began to change in the early 1900's when Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, started to settle here. Excluded from the Toronto business community, Kensington's Jewish families opened stalls in front of their houses, and sold goods to each other. This Jewish market was the start of an old world marketplace in the heart of the Kensington neighbourhood.
- During the 1920s, it was known as the Jewish Market.
- Since the 1940's, Kensington has attracted immigrants from all parts of the world, and it is now one of Toronto's most culturally diverse neighbourhoods.
- In recent years, the neighbourhood has seen a small explosion of upscale cafés, restaurants and clubs, replacing many of the older ethnic businesses. There has been much speculation that Kensington's long history as an immigrant working class neighbourhood is near its end.
- Kensington's Victorian row- houses are small to moderate in size and feature many decorative accents. These houses were built between the 1870's and 1890's.
- The houses in the heart of the Kensington Market have market stalls on their front lawns. Many of these houses are oriented to the rear of the property where tiny little laneways offer privacy from the hustle and bustle of the marketplace.
- The Kensington neighbourhood is presently being revitalized by a handful of new housing projects. These new developments include Victorian inspired town homes that are situated on Oxford Street and the Kensington Market Lofts, a unique condominium project situated in three former George Brown College buildings on Baldwin and Nassau Streets.
- Ryerson Jr. & Sr., 96 Denison Ave, (416) 393-1340 (Public School)
- Oasis Alternative Secondary, 707 Dundas St, (416) 393-9836 (Public High School)
- West End Alternative Secondary, 70 D'Arcy St, (416) 393-0660 (Public High School)
- The local park and meeting place for Kensington residents is Bellevue Square, which is located right in the centre of the neighbourhood. This park has a tot's playground and a wading pool.
- Cecil Community Centre at Spadina and College features a large Hall that is used for theatre productions, sports, games, parties, and weddings.
- The Shaw College Public Library serves as a community meeting place and offers reading material in a number of languages that reflect the cultural diversity of Kensington residents.
Living, Shopping and Grooving in the Market
- The Kensington Market is Toronto's only year-round outdoor market. It is a place of organized confusion, where merchants sell their goods right out on the sidewalks, and restaurant radios trumpet the words and music of a far-off land. If you have never experienced the sights and sounds of this old world market, it is certainly worth a visit.
- Shopping in Kensington Market is centred along Augusta, Baldwin and Kensington as well as all along College Street. Many of the shops on Augusta tend to cater to a largely working-class clientele, with multiple shops selling tough, cheap clothing. Baldwin is focused mainly on food, with some of the finest butchers, grocers, bakers and fishmongers in the city. Kensington contains a jumble of Victorian row-houses housing second-hand clothing shops. College Street is packed with discount computer shops, particularly the closer you are to the university; further towards Bathurst Street, College becomes a centre of Latin-American restaurants and shops.
- Stores sell a wide variety of new and used clothing, and there are discount and surplus stores. It is also home to many restaurants covering a wide variety of styles and ethnicities. A unique architectural feature of the neighbourhood is the presence of extensions built onto the front of many buildings.
- El Mocambo on Spadina just south of College has frequent musical acts upstairs and is one of Toronto's oldest musical venues. Acts that have performed here include Elvis Costello, who recorded a live album, and the Rolling Stones.
- Down the road on Spadina you'll find Grossman's Tavern known as "Toronto's Home of the Blues", not to mention home of one of the best and cheapest burgers you'll find in the city. You'll find bands playing every night, as well as Saturday afternoons and there is never a cover charge.
- On Sundays throughout the summer the streets are shut down to motorists, and pedestrians take over the streets. There are frequently concerts, exhibitions of art (visual and performance), and occasionally political displays, which generally relate to ecology, going car-free, or anti-globalization.
- Kensington Market is, first and foremost, a market: its shops are generally accepted as some of the finest in the city to purchase fresh food (especially cheese and meat), spices, vintage/thrift clothing and almost anything esoteric or exotic. Bring cash; it's taken everywhere and will save you hassles, as many of the smaller stores will not take credit or debit cards.
Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) District: C01
Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) Communities: Kensington Market (0960)