Kensington Market

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Kensington Market is a distinctive multicultural neighbourhood in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Market is an older neighbourhood and one of the city's most well-known. In November 2006, it was designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Robert Fulford wrote in 1999 that "Kensington today is as much a legend as a district. The (partly) outdoor market has probably been photographed more often than any other site in Toronto."

 

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Kensington MarketIts approximate borders are College St. on the north, Spadina Ave. on the east, Dundas St. W. to the south, and Bellevue Ave. to the west. Most of the neighbourhood's eclectic shops, cafes, and other attractions are located along Augusta Ave. and neighbouring Nassau St. and Kensington Ave. The market is best travelled on foot or bicycle, as the narrow one-way streets and numerous dead-ends are difficult to navigate by car.

Landmarks

Some area landmarks are the Number 10 Fire Station, Tom's Place, Bellevue Square Park with a statue of actor Al Waxman, and St. Stephen's Community House. Percy Faith, the 1950s composer and band leader, lived as a child at 171 Baldwin Street. His uncle, Louis Roterbergh, a master violinist, taught him the violin, and was reputed to play at the house at Baldwin as crowds gathered below to listen.

Shops

The area is filled with a mix of food stores selling an immense variety of meats, fish and produce. There are also several bakeries, spice and dry goods stores, and cheese 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 (which would be against by-laws in other places). 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.

Counterculture

Businesses such as Manifestudio, a photo gallery and radical eco-politics community space run by GlobalAware Independent Media, help create an environment friendly to radical politics. Trotskyists are sometimes seen handing out pamphlets at the corner of Baldwin and Kensington. Over the past two decades, several radical bookstores have flourished in Kensington Market, including Who's Emma, the Anarchist Free Space, and Uprising Books. One of Canada's most famous independent bookstores, This Ain't the Rosedale Library, also moved to Kensington from Church and Wellesley in 2008. It later closed in June 2010, failing to pay rent.

Commercial Gentrification

A small supermarket, Zimmerman's Freshmart, opened in the Market in February 2005, leading to some controversy. Danny Zimmerman, the cousin of Freshmart's owner and the owner of a rival store across the street, expressed concern it would compete with smaller businesses, or would otherwise lead to a more "corporate" market. The arrival of COBS Bread in 2006 continues this potential trend. Also, some Market shops have started selling sweets and bread from Dufflet and Ace Bakery, two Toronto-based bakeries. This has caused consternation amongst some traditionalists.

Cars and Pedestrians

Narrow streets make the market challenging for those driving and especially parking in the neighbourhood. On Saturdays and some late afternoons, pedestrians walk freely down the middle of the street or between slow-moving cars. Since 2004, residents and businesses have organized a series of Pedestrian Sunday events. Parts of Augusta St., Baldwin St. and Kensington Ave. are closed to motorized traffic and the streets become a pedestrian mall. Live music, dancing, street theatre and games are among the special events on the closed streets. Typically taking place on the last Sunday of every month, this type of event has been organized on half a dozen weekends a year since 2005.

Information Provided By: wikipedia.org