Kensington Market has a rich history of immigrant communities settling in Toronto and then moving on. Students in CDN355 Digital Tools in a Canadian Context (Canadian Studies, University College, UToronto) researched into 32 physical sites in the market, buildings and lots, looking for archival traces of past residents and businesses over the last 200+ years. Some sites are well-known for their historical importance. Others we discovered along the way.

We began with a Layers of Kensington Tour, curated by Bruce Beaton, local historian with the Kensington Market Historical Society, who detailed the geological, indigenous, and settler bones of the area going back to the last Ice Age.

We looked to the city’s first Park Lot maps, Goad’s Fire Insurance Maps (late 19th & early 20th c), searched in The City of Toronto Archives looking at Directory listings and Property Assessment records, which together map demographic and immigrations shifts over time. We found details of surprising resident histories, the rich interconnections between diverse communities, religious centres, and political and social movements. Within the scope of the class project, it became clear that we were just scratching the surface of the extraordinary history and cultural heritage hidden in the often century old brick buildings that make up much of the Market. As many of these hidden histories have no visible marker on site, our aim was that our project can archive and share some of the wealth of Kensington’s vital cultural heritage to those visiting the Market now and in future.

Students in CDN 355 worked with digital and archival research tools, coding, and quantitative analysis, and the results of their work are archived here and in a unique augmented reality app for mobile, Kensington Market Hidden Histories or KMHH. We were lucky to partner with *no campfire required, a Toronto digital creative team,  of Camile Gauthier, Emily Smith, and Paulo Ramos.

Our student team in CDN355:

Ashley Cruickshank, Madison Elsom-Lewis, Joanna Jin, Chris Lemire, Nicole Paroyan, Arabhi Ratnajothy, Natalie Simonian, Sally Zeng.

Our photographer and UX tester, Olivia Baker, was invaluable in documenting key sites in Kensington today, checking online usability, and assisting with additional data management.

We are deeply indebted to:

Marcel Fortin, Maps & Data Librarian, University of Toronto, for his Introduction to ARCGis workshop, for his ongoing support with working with the custom web  map app he created, and for assisting with the final version of the interactive map, generated on the Esri Story Maps platform.

Donna Bernardo-Ceriz, Managing Director, Ontario Jewish Archives, for her assistance.

Bruce Beaton, Historian, Kensington Market Historical Society, for his entertaining & enlightening tour and ongoing generous sharing of time and expertise.

thank you!

Prof. Siobhan O’Flynn

See Kensington Market Deep Dive for more information about the course.