Blog 18 Marketplace Culture and Urban Expansion Part 2

In response to public pressure, Premier William Davis withdrew provincial support on June 3, 1971 stating that “If we are building a transportation system to serve the automobile…the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to start. But if we are building a transportation system to serve the people, the Spadina Expressway would be a good place to stop.”[i] Since 2004, Kensington residents and local businesses have taken active measures to preserve the market’s distinct pedestrian culture through the organization of monthly pedestrian Sundays. During these events, sections of Augusta St., Baldwin St. and Kensington Ave. are closed to vehicles, transforming the streets into a pedestrian mall and stage for live entertainment and games.[ii]


[i] Bradburn, Jamie. The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Toronto Feature: Spadina Expressway.” Last modified 2012. Accessed February 7, 2013.

[ii] Levin, Laura, and Kim Solga. “The Drama Review.” Building Utopia: Performance and the Fantasy of Urban Renewal in Contemporary Toronto. 53. no. 3 (2008): 37-53. utopia: performance and fantasy of urban renewal in contemporary Toronto&rft.jtitle=TDR (Cambridge, Mass.)&, Laura&, Kim& Press Journals&rft.issn=1054-2043&rft.volume=53&rft.issue=3&rft.spage=37&rft.externalDBID=n/a&rft.externalDocID=208299404 (accessed February 7, 2013). 47.

Blog 17 Marketplace Culture and Urban Expansion Part 1

As early as the 1960s, homeowners, tenants and merchants faced external threats to the historical landscape and distinct marketplace culture of the neighbourhood. An early example was the 1966 Metro Expressway Plan, a joint initiative between the federal, Ontario Provincial and Toronto Municipal governments to construct a network of freeways for Metropolitan Toronto.[i] Particularly concerning to residents of Kensington Market and surrounding neighbourhoods was the proposed Spadina Expressway which was expected to direct heavy traffic through the Cedarvale Ravine and down Spadina Avenue to Bloor Street.[ii] If completed, this new route would have carried traffic off of the expressway causing congestion on local streets. Grassroots opposition began in October 1969 when a coalition of students, academics, politicians formed the “Stop Spadina, Save Our City Co-ordinating Committee” (SSSOCCC) and launched a public campaign against the expressway project.


[i] Shaw, Jennifer Lyn. University of Toronto, “Resistance amidst disorganization:Understanding the nature of community organizing in Toronto’s Kensington Market.” Last modified 2005. Accessed January 25, 2013. 63.


[ii] Bradburn, Jamie. The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Toronto Feature: Spadina Expressway.” Last modified 2012. Accessed February 7, 2013.

Blog 16: Kensington’s Marketplace Culture Today

As the final stages of the project approach, the remaining content our group will need to add is a short blurb on marketplace culture from the 1990s onward. Kensington currently holds the unique status of Toronto’s only outdoor market with an interior shopping district on Kensington Avenue, through Baldwin Street and along Augusta Avenue.[i] The neighbourhood is made up of a distinct milieu of residential, commercial and institutional buildings which include specialty, vintage and ethnic stores as well as galleries and cultural institutions and has been aptly described as Toronto’s Vienna within Los Angeles.[ii]

See the link below for a taste of what Kensington currently has to offer!

[i] Shaw, Jennifer Lyn. University of Toronto, “Resistance amidst disorganization: Understanding the nature of community organizing in Toronto’s Kensington Market.” Last modified 2005. Accessed January 25, 2013. 7.

[ii] “Kensington Market in Toronto – Ontario, Canada .” Travel & Events. Posted Sep 27, 2009. Canadian Tourism YouTube Channel. Sep 27, 2009. Web,

Blog 15: Getting to know the Kensington Market Historical Society (KMHS)

Now that the research/writing component of the project has begun to wind down, we can shift our focus to over to the much more exciting task of creating a digital face for the KMHS. Below is a basic profile our client has provided us with that we will be reworked into an “about us” section on the main page of our site.

About the Kensington Market Historical Society:


  • To gather, study and disseminate knowledge pertaining to the Kensington Market area of Toronto.
  • To accumulate local records, artifacts, and built structures that might otherwise be lost.
  • To develop documentary literature that will include new primary research exploring cultural, historical and art- historical topics specific to the Kensington Market area.

Meeting the needs of the community agency we are partnering with is a major priority for our group. The goal now is to focus on representing the KMHS well.

Blog 14: Pop Culture Representations of Kensington Market in the 1970s and 80s

One of the most famous depictions of Kensington’s unique market place culture in the 1970s and 1980s was King of Kensington, a CBC television sitcom airing 90 episodes between 1975 and 1980. The program starred Al Waxman as Larry King, a convenience store owner who regularly resolved neighbourhood issues ranging from preserving local landmarks to integrating recent immigrants into the community.[i] Most importantly, the show’s depiction of Kensington Market as a resilient urban village within a growing metropolitan center realistically mirrored the community’s resistance to urban renewal and freeway construction plans that were destroying similar communities in other parts of Toronto.[ii] In 2002, the CBC produced a series of television specials called Tuning In which reflected on significant contributions to Canadian broadcasting. The program argued for the authenticity of the image of the Market depicted in King of Kensington and suggested that the values depicted in the program such as its celebration of ethnic diversity and entrepreneurial spirit survive as prevailing attitudes within the Kensington community today.[iii]

[i] Fireworks a ContentFilm Company, “Comedy Drama Series King of Kensington.” Accessed February 7, 2013. Accessed February 7, 2013.

[ii] Matheson, Sarah A. “Ruling The Inner City: Television, Citizenship and King of Kensington.” Canadian Journal of Film Studies. 15. no. 1 (2006): 46-62. (accessed February 7, 2013) 47.

[iii] Matheson, 46.

Blog 13: Immigration in Kensington Market Post-1970: Examining Changes in the Market’s Social Profile

As the research phase of our project continues, my interest has peaked in one particular area: demographics. The period between 1970 and 2000 witnessed several major shifts in the Market’s social profile. Kensington remained a key immigrant reception area in Toronto throughout the 1970s as multiple waves of Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, and Spanish-speaking Latin American newcomers settled in both the residential and commercial areas of the Market.[1] Intake changed during the 1980s, when the neighbourhood experienced an influx of younger Bohemian merchants and students and again in the 1990s with the arrival of a young urban professional cohort.[2] Recent census data indicates that Kensington’s population has diversified, as the Jewish and Portuguese majority groups from the 1950s and 1960s have since migrated to other parts of the city. Approximately 27.4% of the community’s immigrant population arrived to Kensington in the period between 1996 and 2001. This figure represents a 42.1% increase from the years between 1991 and 2001. What can be concluded is that Kensington remains as a key immigrant reception area within the City of Toronto. The shift in Kensington’s social profile is particularly apparent in a 2006 report by the City of Toronto’s Social Policy Analysis and Research Unit (SPAR) which documented the ten main ethnic groups living in the Kensington-Chinatown neighbourhood has experienced significant change since the mid twentieth century. In descending order, SPAR identified these ten dominant groups as Chinese, English, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Vietnamese, Portuguese and East Indian.[3] Understanding the history of demographic shifts in Kensington will be necessary as our group continues to build a site that suits the character of the community.

[1] Barbara, Myrvold. Toronto Public Library, “Historical Walking Tour of Kensington Market & College Street.” 1993. 15.

[2] Shaw, Jennifer Lyn. University of Toronto, “Resistance amidst disorganization: Understanding the nature of community organizing in Toronto’s Kensington Market.” Last modified 2005. Accessed January 25, 2013. 7.

[3] Statistics Canada, Census 2006 © 2008 Copyright City of Toronto. All Rights Reserved.Date of Publication: July 2008


Blog 12: The Legacy of Kensington Market—Some Interesting Findings

As our team’s research on the history of Kensington Market continues so do the interesting findings. Below is a snippet of the some of the research I’ve been pursuing as I develop a basic profile of important milestones in Kensington’s recent history:

In 2006, the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada (HSMBC) designated Kensington Market as a site of national historic significance. Established in 1919, the HSMBC assumes an advisory role to the Minister of the Environment concerning the national historic significance of locations, individuals and key events that define Canadian history. As of April 2012, 965 National Historic Sites exist and are administered by Parks Canada or other levels of government or private entities. The HSMBC granted Kensington this designation on the basis of three reasons. First, the community witnessed multiple waves of ethnic communities who have settled in Toronto since the early 20th century. Second, Kensington represents Canada’s ethnic mosaic on a micro scale. Third, the neighbourhood has developed into a unique urban district with a legacy cultural institutions and custom shops which distinguish it from the larger metropolis.[1]

[1] “Government of Canada Commemorates the National Historic Significance of Kensington Market.” Canadian Corporate News, May 25, 2008.|A179375085&v=2.1&u=tplmain_z&it=r&p=CPI&sw=w&authCount=1 (accessed January 25, 2013).


Blog # 9 Taking Video Games Seriously

In their 2009 dialogue, Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell and Dr. Kevin Kee confront the issue of “serious games”, or more directly, the extent to which video games can be considered effective learning tools.[1] In the interest of hearing both sides of the argument, consider the following additional advantages and disadvantages that videogames bring to the table as an educational medium:


  • The appeal and consumption of videogames transcends many demographic boundaries (age, gender, ethnicity, educational status.) Educational video games therefore attract a wide range of students.
  • Videogames can be useful because they allow the researchers in the field of education to measure students’ performance on a variety of tasks, and can be changed, standardized and understood with ease.
  • Videogames are stimulating for participants. As a result, they can captivate and maintain a student’s undivided attention for long periods of time.
  • Videogames are highly interactive and that may enable tactile learners to retain concepts and experiences more easily than alternative learning methods aimed at visual or auditory learners.
  • Videogames teach eye-hand coordination and visual spatial ability.
  • Videogames familiarize children at an early age with innovative technology. There are several long term benefits of raising tech savvy students. For one, it may help eliminate gender imbalances in IT.


  • Videogame technology is rapidly changing. Therefore, constant upgrading makes the task of evaluating educational value across studies more difficult.
  • If the game is too structurally complex (i.e. involves role-playing or includes objectives, rules and conventions which are supplementary to the educational content) students may become too distracted by the mechanisms to focus on the actual content. This may decrease the amount of information they retain.

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to the use of videogames as learning tools. While videogames cannot be made a cornerstone of curriculum at any level, they cannot be completely dismissed either. Instead, the value of using educational games should be determined on a case by case basis considering the learning style of the student (visual, auditory, tactile) and the nature of the given task or assignment. It’s all a matter of discretion and resourcefulness.


Geoffrey M., Rockwell, and Kee Kevin. Game Studies, “The Leisure of Serious Games: A Dialogue.” Last modified 2011. Accessed November 21, 2012.