ETHNIC COMMUNITIES IN TORONTO
Toronto is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. There are several ethnic cultures which have their own unique ethnic communities in Toronto. Walking around downtown you will see about every ethnicity you can think of. While they don’t all have their own areas within the city, several do.
When immigrants first immigrated to Canada several decades ago, their comfort zone was to socialize with people who spoke their language. They preferred to stay within their circle of friends. As the years went on and they learnt English, they became more comfortable in Canada and overcame the challenges they faced.
Their kids grew up in Canadian schools, learnt English from a young age and had Canadian friends. Many started successful businesses including restaurants, clothing outlets, furniture stores, and cafes, and identify as much as being Canadian as they do their own nationality. Many immigrants started with nothing but are now extremely successful business people. They are a testament to their perseverance and determination. It’s not uncommon to now see three generations of the same family working in the same restaurant. The parents and grandparents speak English with a noticeable accent from their own language, and the kids speaking perfect English. Here are a few of the ethnic communities in Toronto.
Chinatown is by far the largest of the ethnic communities in Toronto. It is very lively with outdoor markets, Chinese food restaurants, clothing stores, bakeries and more. In Chinatown you will find anything that will give you a feel for the Chinese culture. It’s located west of the downtown core. A pleasant walk west on Queen to Spadina and you’ll find yourself in Chinatown, which is one of the largest Chinatowns in North America. This is the main Chinatown, although there are several Chinatowns spread out across the Greater Toronto area as there is a very large Chinese population throughout Toronto. Once there we encourage you to visit Kensington Market which is close by, it has a diverse, modern, trendy vibe to it, including unique shops and restaurants. Both areas are highly recommended and great places to spend an afternoon or evening during your stay.
In the early 1900’s Italians immigrated to Canada in large numbers. Over a couple of decades they settled in the College and Grace Street area, which would become to be known as Little Italy. There are many Italian restaurants, businesses, and even an Italian Walk of Fame which pays tribute to famous Italians both local and global. Little Italy is home to the largest community of Italians outside of Italy, if you’re looking for a piece of anything Italian, you’ll find it here. Bars, cafes, restaurants, night clubs, theatres, all with an Italian flavour. Spend a few hours or the day strolling around Toronto’s Little Italy, you’ll thoroughly enjoy it.
Greektown on The Danforth is located on the east side of Toronto. In the 1960’s Greektown saw a large influx of Greek immigrants who were fleeing Greece amid political and economic uncertainty. The area has undergone several changes and gentrification over the years. It is home to high end restaurants and is a very lively and energetic area and fun to visit. Every year a large food festival called ‘A Taste of the Danforth’ takes place during mid August. The event is free and food is plentiful and of course delicious. We highly recommend taking a look if you’re visit falls within the dates of the festival.
Toronto has a very large Korean population, consisting of over 50,000 Koreans. Many Koreans immigrated to Canada in the late 1960’s when Canada relaxed on their immigration policies. Many ended up settling in the Bloor Bathurst area. Over the years many successful Korean businesses opened up in the area. Over the decades Koreans have spread out throughout Toronto as they became more comfortable with their new surroundings.They have had children and started speaking English from a young age in school. Koreatown is a great place to experience the Korean culture, well worth a visit.
Little India is located in the east end of the city. It caters to the south Asian cultures like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. South Asians don’t generally live in areas where there are large numbers, however it does serve as a business hub for the South Asian community. As with all the different ethnic areas, you will see a great number of South Asian restaurants, cafes, shops, clothing, and grocery stores. One of the main annual events is the Festival of South Asia which takes place in late August.
Other Ethnic Communities
There are also other smaller ethnic areas within the city limits including, Little Portugal, Little Poland, and Little Malta. These additional communities may not be as large as others, but they all play a part in this diverse city. Toronto is one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. It’s even possible to visit all of the locations mentioned above in a day or two via public transit. Enjoy your stay and be sure to visit any or all of these unique ethnic communities in Toronto.