The Evolving Spaces of Kensington Market and Spadina Avenue



Images installed on loan at MAKOM: Creative Downtown Judaism, 402 College Street, Toronto (just one block east of Bathurst).

PLEASE NOTE: MAKOM is not a public gallery but has a busy schedule of events (see http://makomto.org) and is frequently open for participants and sometimes for passers-by.

For about ten years, I have been making images of the ever-changing built environment along Spadina Avenue and the streets of the Kensington Market area of Toronto. When I first arrived in Toronto in 1971, the area’s historic Jewish character was still largely in evidence. In the 1930s, approximately eighty percent of the city’s 45,000 Jews lived around Spadina Avenue, and were active in the neighbourhood’s thriving businesses, synagogues and communal organizations. Forty years later, there were still many restaurants and textile and fur businesses in the district owned by Jews, as well as a number of functioning synagogues.

 As an area populated by and employing many immigrants, Spadina Avenue and Kensington Market are the locus of constant change. The appearance of the major streetscapes today has been shaped largely by the Chinese community, and colourful signs with Chinese characters dominate Spadina Avenue and nearby Dundas Street West. While most Jewish residents have relocated to the northern parts of the city and the suburbs, there are still historical remnants of Jewish life in the Market and nearby, including a few synagogues that cater to downtown Jews, joined recently by MAKOM on College Street.

Special thanks to Evelyn Tauben both for making the shidduch with MAKOM and for curating the mini-exhibition, and also to Rabbi Aaron Levy for his warm welcome.