Kensington Market's New Status
Toronto is truly a "city of neighborhoods" as Mayor Miller has suggested. A trip through TO could bring you in contact with plenty of new cultural experiences whether you pass through Little Poland, Little Jamaica or Greektown, but it's on the eclectic streets of Kensington Market where you'll find the remnants of all of Toronto's communities meshed in one place. Because of this, many of Toronto's new immigrants have called it their first home, and it's also due to this diversity that Parks Canada has just designated Kensington Market a national historic site. This honour is shared with only two other Toronto areas - The Distillery District and Fort York.
It has yet to be proven exactly what this designation can do for a community in the long run. At the very least it means more scrutiny will be paid to any projected plans in the area. In the 60s, the Victorian row houses of The Market were nearly razed when it was proposed that an affordable-living community, akin to nearby Alexandra Park, should be built. Fortunately, Mayor Crombie saved The Market from this fate. Now the community of Kensington appears to be one of the strongest collectives in the city.
Much is owed to the Jewish immigrants of the early 1900's who set up bolted-down push carts of produce outside their narrow working-class homes, creating not just an open market but also the spirit of the community that still thrives on its streets today.
Kensington Market can mean many things to many different people. When I was in high school it was a place to shop with friends and pick up vintage jeans. Now it's where I go when I crave something out of the ordinary to eat or a place to explore. Murmur allows everyone to explore the stories of Kensington, both past and present, through audio files available on their site or by spotting the green ear perched on poles around the neighborhood and calling in. You can share your stories too, or choose to get more involved by debating issues like car free days or The Market's growing nightlife scene. While Kensington is a hub for all kinds of people, there definitely seems to be similar priorities for those in the community. They'd rather see free-spirited shops and cafes continue to line its streets than condos and mega-stores. Hopefully, the historic designation will help.