I’m starting to get pretty excited about this project. The kind of itchy excitement that’s paired up with crippling fear that I’m bound to screw everything up, but still – excited.
Kensington Market is a pretty cliche Toronto destination; I remember my first year in Toronto, getting so frustrated with all of my friends visiting from London only ever wanting to spend all day, every day, in Kensington. Toronto has so much to offer, it drove me nuts that my peers were so singularly focused. The place is often over-run by tourists, kids shipped in by the school bus-load, and I’ve got to say, more than a couple times I’ve found myself feeling kind of over the (sometimes forced, I feel) ‘hipness’ of it all.
And then, one day I’ll find myself meandering through, and I’ll buy literally every food-stuff I’ve missed from the neighborhood, making my way home with churros, grilled cheese, a loaf of bread, a pie, a burrito, baked goods, and veggie bao. (I wish this was a joke, but I’ve been berated by my roommates for gluttony too many times for it to be funny anymore.)
My affection for the neighborhood’s genuine charm has me feeling good about working with the Kensington Market Historical Society, especially now that I’ve spent some time looking for some pre-existing web-based sources of info on the neighborhood. There’s not much out there, save for some tourist-based information sites and a BlogTO ‘Visual History’ post.
One webiste, Kensington Alive, is a project that may have been very similar to what we are trying to do when it was initially launched. Conceived through a partnership between St Stephen’s community house and members of the Kensington Market community, the website is attempting to be an educational and cultural hub for the neighborhood’s history. The site has some rather vague information on the area, stating the ‘tremendous significance’ of Kensington’s history without explaining what this significance is based upon. There’s a timeline of the region’s history which displays interesting maps and census data, but in a clumsy and ineffective way.
I think Kensington Alive will be an important source for our group to pay close attention to, as its creators got a few things right, but a lot of things very wrong – we can learn from their mistakes, along with our own, and hopefully create a website that fully serves the needs of the Kensington Market Historical Society.