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Kensington in Toronto, Ontario is best known for its Chinatown neighbourhood. It is situated west of the downtown area and is bordered by Spadina Avenue on the east, Dundas Street on the south, Bathurst Street on the west and College Street on the north.
The area is a hub for small businesses including vintage clothing stores, restaurants, cafes and independent grocers. Kensington stores and restaurants are known for a wide variety of food representing cuisine from many regions including Central and Latin American nations, South Asia and Caribbean countries.
For instance, organic grocers such as 4 Life Natural Foods and Olga’s Health Food can be found along with Akram’s Shoppe, a bistro specializing in falafel and Amadeu’s, a casual dining restaurant offering a Portuguese menu.
Pedestrian Sundays are held on the last Sundays in May up to October in the streets of Kensington Market, emphasizing the area’s importance as a local and regional business core. On these days, vehicular traffic is blocked off, and merchants can use the streets for merchandise displays. This street festival is a community effort that draws residents and tourists alike.
Kensington homes are a mix of heritage and contemporary structures. Older homes built between the 1870s to the 1890s are mostly modest Victorian-inspired row houses. In Kensington Market, homes may have market stalls in front and owner’s access in the back. Newer housing developments include condominiums and townhouses carved out of the former campus of George Brown College.
The Toronto District School Board runs the elementary and secondary schools zoned for families in the Kensington neighbourhood.
Bellevue Square Park is the neighbourhood’s main meeting place with a children’s playground and a wading pool. For adults, Cecil Community Centre hosts theatrical performances and sports events. The College/Shaw Public Library on College Street has an auditorium and a meeting room available by reservation.
Kensington is a pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood. It is a popular sightseeing and eclectic shopping destination made more so by its bohemian appeal. The neighbourhood is proud to have staved off the incursion of national retail chains.
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