Moments of Happiness in Kensington Market, Toronto

Of the four days I spent in Toronto, three of them included visits to Kensington Market. It's fair to say I enjoyed some moments of happiness there.

It was the perfect walking distance from my hotel that was wedged on the cusp of the CBD in the main shopping district of Yonge and Dundas, including a colourful walk through Chinatown as an added bonus. Once there I embraced how different Kensington Market looked. I liked how small the houses were - Toronto has lots of skyscrapers and impossibly tall buildings (though I didn't Edgewalk on all of them) - and I liked that they were old, in Canadian terms at least.

Kensington Market feels like a little town stuck in a big city, full of city people who could live in a little town but like big cities too much. I appreciate that isn't the most insightful or eloquent sentence I've ever written. Forgive the following London references but Kensington Market could be part-Camden - with hippy and herb shops and wildly painted shop fronts, part-Islington High Street - with a mix of themed and quirky bars, cafes and international restaurants, and feels a little rough and around the edges like Shepherd's Bush Market thrown in for good measure; I could smell the fresh fish around the corner and I loved climbing over almost rotting vegetables down an alley as I went off in search of street art.Oh yes, there was some excellent street art to get excited about there. Then there were my personal moments of happiness like losing myself in a yarn shop there or spending a happy half an hour alone with a diet coke and a chicken burrito watching the world go by around me. There were vintage shops that smelt funny, which is precisely how I like my vintage shops, though sadly the price tags weren't as pleasing. There was colour lining every street. There were bikes on every corner, outside every shop and there were people of all colours, sizes and peculiar clothing choices mixing with one another; all the things I associate with a happy co-existing community. Kensington Market was a corner of instant character and comfort in a big, new city.

In my book, that's worth a lot. It was also where I got to hang out with four fabulous new friends - Ayngelina, Natalie, Corbin and Adam - and call me a soppy old thing but sometimes places can't help but be about the people you meet there.

Frances M. Thompson

Londoner turned wanderer, Frankie is an author, freelance writer and blogger. Currently based in Amsterdam, Frankie was nomadic for two years before starting a family with her Australian partner. Frankie is the author of three short story collections, and is a freelance writer for travel and creative brands. In 2017, she launched WriteNOW Cards, affirmation cards for writers that help build a productive and positive writing practice. When not writing contemporary fiction, Frankie shops for vintage clothes, dances to 70s disco music and chases her two young sons around Amsterdam.
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