For many, Kensington Market (located just west of Downtown Toronto) is simply a great place for cheap frills and a nice walk. Having always been personally attracted to this vibrant and historic part of town, I thought I’d take my explorations a little further than my fave vintage hangouts.
The most obviously striking thing about this neighbourhood is the sheer diversity. Unlike the usual hustle and bustle of, say, Dundas Square, where the main goal is not only to shop and walk around but (perhaps most importantly) to be SEEN, Kensington Market demands that we pay attention to its graphic murals and quirky buildings rather than the latest fashion fad. You can almost feel your steps slowing down and your breaths calming after passing a storefront or two, not to mention your taste buds perking up as you notice the plethora of food options available. From one block to another, you can either be faced with a slew of intriguing shops (and people!) or a quiet, tree-lined residential street with multi-coloured homes.
Home to countless good eats that are healthy on the stomach and one-stop shops that are even healthier on the budget, Kensington Market contains several adorably quaint, one-of-a-kind boutiques. Case in point? A Homerun, headed by the effortlessly cool Jodi, is a self-described vintage clothing/home decor/gift shop/pop up venue/design studio where one can find fabulous retro pieces while enjoying the eclectic vibe. While there is definitely a lot going on, it all comes together in a chic, heartfelt and sartorially inspiring package.
Another cool find is Anice Jewellery, who’s motto is “old treasures, new love”. A go-to place for all of your jewellery needs, not only can you find beautifully handmade and/or custom designed pieces (fun fact: every item contains elements of “something old and something new”) from the owner Brittany but the place is filled with an intensely loving energy (as evidenced by the many affirmations posted in and around the shop). Guests can also take advantage of jewellery repair services and workshops.
I recently also had the pleasure of stopping by during one of Kensington’s “Pedestrian Sundays” where all are welcome to experience the true heart and soul of Kensington Market – its community. Numerous bands jammed out while store owners took their wares outside to enjoy the sun and mingle. Seemingly anything and everything was being sold – it is after all, a market – but it was clear that each tie-dyed shirt, wooden bracelet and delicious plate was made, above all, with love. Visitors could enjoy anything from live music, to offbeat entertainment and even an art convention if that was more to their taste.
A perfect example of how close of a community this was; right after an amazing show from the Afro-Brazillian Roots Percussion band, a man began shouting for his missing toddler. Within seconds the news had passed up and down several blocks like wildfire and almost in unison, everyone started calling the boy’s name. Moments later, the distraught parent was relieved to hear that his son had been found and was currently being watched by a mother and her children several blocks up the street. And just like that, what could have turned into a disaster had quickly become a shining example of what happens when neighbours band together.
Though Kensington Market may have many faces, many moods and even many cultural identities, at the end of the day they are all integrated into one tight-knit, every- growing and always-loving community that is truly a pleasure to see and feel.
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Story by Dayana Cadet | CITYGUIDE by KA Magazine
Owner of A Homerun, Jodi
Owner of Anice, Brittany and Olivia