Kensington Urban Archaeology

Kensington Market has a rich history of immigrant communities settling in Toronto and then moving on. This project for  CDN355 Digital Tools in a Canadian Context (Canadian Studies, UToronto) will look at 10 physical sites in the market, buildings and lots, and will map layered traces of past residents and businesses over centuries.

Students in CDN 355 will be introduced to digital research tools, coding, and quantitative analysis and we will extend our critical activities in these new modes of digital scholarship designing a unique archive. Students will have the opportunity to do original research to develop the content for our interactive map, working through the design decisions as to how to organize, analyze, and display our findings. Material we will work with will range from the first allotment maps and census data to early business records and resident histories, religious centres, family connections, and political intersections.

Students will work collaboratively to create an interactive map that will geolocate archival material, images, news items, census data, and personal interviews, building on a ‘web map app’ that simplifies working with the ArcGIS mapping software.

Our goal will be to contribute to the archival knowledge of a vibrant corner of Toronto’s history and to share our findings on a public accessible website that can credit the work of all students involved.

See ‘About’ for more information about the course.

Featured post

The Changing Market

We all know Kensington Market is changing at an increasingly rapid rate with development attempts at gentrification, condos, and the introduction of chain stores. Local residents, businesses and property owners have complicated relationships and behind the complications of our present lie an extraordinary history that will vanish quickly unless we document it.

Archiving History

My earliest memories of Baldwin St. go back to the late 1960s – early 1970s. I distinctly remember the butcher shops with stacks of cages of live chickens, ducks, and other fowl, goats’ heads & carcasses in windows, and the always pungent smell at 7 am on a Saturday morning. Today, Baldwin is a mosaic of layered traces of the old Kensington (Tom’s Place & the dry beans & fruit shops, the older fish stores), a few remaining indie music bars that intersect with the 40 year old punk scene centered on the legendary BOFGs, and the explosion of hipster shops from the butcher, bbq, artisanal breads, high end coffee and kombucha.

How many of us know the rich history of the market? the stories? the residents? The ground we walk on in any city is dense with personal and political histories. Let’s capture and preserve some of that history.

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