A perfect day…bright and cheerful adieu to Summer, wafting mixology of history and cultures of Asia, Europe, Caribbean, Middle East, Latin America…. lured me to what was the 1920s ‘Jewish Market’. With time and fresh pourings the businesses and demographics changed hands from Jewish to Chinese, Latin American, Asian, European setting space for ethnic entrepreneurial clusters forming what is today’s Kensington Market enclosed by College Street (north), Spadina Avenue (east), Dundas St. W (south) and Bathurst Street to the west.
The redeeming feature or attractions of this densely packed neighborhood of eclectic shops, cafes and sardined Victorian houses are the excoriating concrete canvasses enticing visitors and locals to the area’s antiquated environs.
These kaleidoscopic alleys and walls add glamor to second-hand clothing, the one-stop shops flaunting ‘Made in China’ goods, to holed–in bars, coffee shops, eateries, bakeries, the intriguing cannabis cafés and boutiques, the cheap clothes and jewelry on racks, Tibetan accessories, rugs and paintings and shops heavily focused on food, the butchers, bakers, grocers etc.
The market is a maze of non-conformity and you feel you have seen it all when you come across quirky or vampish Courage My Love (14 Kensington Avenue)) all set to entice you within its fold, or the one-off Ego Vintage (9 Kensington Ave.) or the colonial hangover the Bungalow for vintage clothing or House of Spices for the heady international flavors of roasted coffee beans, spices and nibbles. The crammed store is actually a blessing as one is tested for immediate reaction. I bought a packet of Garam Masala, a patent spice for Indian curries, wondering how different it will be from the packet purchased from a Gerrard Street Indian store.
With senses bamboozled by aromas, sounds and colours we walked into the popular Jimmy’s Coffee (191 Baldwin St.) with its antiquated living room vibe of wooden tables, bookcases, metal ceiling and furniture and a back patio for summer day relaxation with refreshing coffee and wi-fi.
Kensington Market is one of the most walkable neighbourhoods in the city. Towards evening the lanes and alleys were spilling with an excited holiday crowd and locals and for us to call it a day. Before exiting the market we joined the queue at Wanda’s Pie in The Sky for their yummy Chocolate Pecan Pie. A slurpy sweet end to the day.