How Toronto’s Kensington Market Got Its Unique Character

The neighbourhood even had its own TV show.


Looking back at the history of Kensington Market, it is easy to see why Toronto is often referred to as one of the most multicultural cities in the world.

In this episode of Then&Now, Toronto historian Morgan Cameron Ross explores the past of this iconic neighbourhood that has acted as a revolving door for immigrants for over a century.

The origins of Kensington Market can be traced back to the 1800s and a man named George Denison, who purchased land in the area and whose family would eventually sell it off.

As the land developed and different communities would come and go, residents eventually began to convert their homes into storefronts, giving the area a unique look that has largely remained the same for decades. This unique character of the market even formed the setting for a TV show called King of Kensington.

While gentrification has made its way into other neighbourhoods in the city, the community has largely been able to maintain its distinct persona, even rallying together to shoe away the Nike Presto gallery that opened up in 2002.

But it has not all been good news as of late, with the Kensington Market Business Improvement Area requesting support as numerous businesses over the past year had to close their doors.

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