Toronto: A Visit to Chinatown & Kensington(1)

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One item that cannot miss from any travel itinerary in Toronto is a visit to Chinatown and Kensington. Afte...
One item that cannot miss from any travel itinerary in Toronto is a visit to Chinatown and Kensington. After a long day of work on August 7, 2008 I met my European visitors downtown in front of the CHUM City Building (home of City TV). We walked westwards along the funky stores of Queen Street West and headed north on Spadina where we took in the sights of Toronto’s Fashion District. North of Dundas the flavour turned decidedly Oriental as we entered Chinatown. Colourful merchandise, fragrant fruits, the smells of seafood and the hustle and bustle of people shopping and strolling assaulted our senses. As always, we were fascinated by the various forms of fried fowl that were hanging in the store windows, naturally with heads and feet still attached. A few streets north of Spadina we headed west to check out the eclectic collection of restaurants, funky stores and multicultural food emporiums that makes up Kensington Market. One of Toronto’s oldest and most colourful neighbourhoods, the former “Jewish Market” is a National Historic Site today. Almost 60,000 Jewish residents lived here in the 1920s and 1930s and worshipped at more than 30 synagogues. After World War II most of the Jewish population relocated further north, and additional waves of diverse immigrant groups moved in. Today, people from the Caribbean, East Asia, the Azores and Latin America are well represented here and the colourful mix of restaurants and stores reflects these diverse origins. We strolled back on Dundas Street, past the newly expanding Art Gallery of Ontario, a $250+ million redevelopment designed by award-winning star architect Frank Gehry whose famous creations include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago’s Millenium Park. For dinner we headed over to Baldwin Street, a small side street south of the University of Toronto that features a diverse mix of restaurants, including Italian, French, Indian, Thai and Japanese cuisine. We capped the evening off with a tasty dinner at the Gateway to India restaurant. Distributed by Tubemogul.