I arrived at Kensington Market in Toronto at around 11am on a Tuesday and it was not quite what I was expecting. Most of the vintage shops were still closed and it was almost like a ghost town. Then somebody explained: “They usually open at around 12pm, it depends how good last night was.”
Within the hour, the area was bustling and the market was well and truly underway.
Kensington Market is actually a designated National Historic Site in Canada and is one of the oldest areas in Toronto. Some of the houses that now house businesses date all the way back to the 1800s.
The Kensington area has a long, multi-cultural history and is known for its community spirit and ability to resist urban regeneration.
In the early 20th century, a huge Jewish community occupied the neighbourhood and many opened food stores in their homes.
The majority had moved away by the 1950s and Portuguese immigrants moved in and painted the houses in the beautiful, bright colours that can still be appreciated today. They also continued the tradition of trading from their homes.
Then came a wave of immigrants from Asia in the 1970s and Latin America in the 1980s.
Not surprisingly then, the market is an incredible mixture of cultures.
This was one of the most vibrant places I have visited in Canada. It even rivalled the quirky Goats on the Roof shopping attraction at Coombs, Vancouver Island.
There were food stores, cafes, artists’ galleries and lots of vintage shops.
I was in my element rummaging through colourful racks of vintage clothes from different decades.
This rail of loud jumpers screamed 1980s…
Some of the traders had a vintage style themselves, such as this woman who was rocking the 1950s look perfectly…
Kensington Market is not your average market. A couple of hours is not enough the appreciate this place.
In fact, I was happily lost in this wonderful world for the whole day.
I was not actually on the look out to purchase anything, but my Scottish friend was seeking out an army-style jacket.
She ended up finding the coat that she wanted and also made friends with this huge, fluffy dog that belonged to one of the shop owners…
It looked like every inch of the vintage shops were covered with eye-catching displays.
The walls outside were also decorated…
And so were some of the roofs…
There was a car that had been transformed into a unique plant pot…
And one lamppost was filled with people’s comments and messages…
Crazy mannequins were all over the place…
So, altogether Kensington Market was a brilliant location to visit.
If you are planning on checking it out yourself, the market is open seven days a week, from 11am-7pm.
It can be found near the Chinatown district and is bordered by Spadina Avenue, Dundas Street, Bathurst Street and College Street.
However, most of the vintage shops tend to open around 12pm and some of the fruit and vegetable stores open earlier.
There are lots of places to get something to eat on the cheap and it is not hard to find gluten-free options and organic produce if you have allergies.
To make the most of the market, set aside a good chunk of the day. It is possible to spend a long duration in just one of the vintage shops, let alone all of them.
Have you ever visited Kensington Market? If you haven’t, do you like the look of this place?