Kensington Market. A myriad of shops connected by a labrynth of alleyways. Hidden just off the obvious and well known bustling main streets of the city, it’s the Bermuda Triangle of Toronto if ever there was one. It may not be a magnetic wild-zone of compasses losing their calibration, but somehow itineraries fall apart, schedules are long forgotten and those who come stay much longer than anticipated. Amelia would have made it to the other side, but she couldn’t find a single reason to leave.
All the advice you need is scrolled on the bathroom walls. Including things you don’t want to know and laugh out loud responses to tmi ramblings. It’s not uncommon to hear a washroom patron chuckling to themselves, or an agreeable mumble that follows reading words strung together by the humble beginnings of a poet turned singer/songwriter that somehow hit in all the right places. It’s the doodles and the quips, the insightful banter and sometimes cries for help met by solid answers of concern. It’s the absence of racist comments, the culmination of thoughts, it’s a collection of different minds over time creating a mural on mutual ground; curated stalls that never disappoint.
"All the advice you need is scrawled on the bathroom walls"
I have yet to see an establishment cover the cursive and on each visit my fingers tremble as I feel the twitch with the thought of being immortalized on the steel walls almost motivating enough to add my words among the resident artists. However, I lack a sharpie and a worthy quote.
It’s a gallery; always changing, new work rotating, thoughts expressed, with no admission.
Each building is its own eco-zone, each shop its own sub culture. Patrons step out fast paced and wide eyed, throwing their hands into shopping bags to pull out their score, something they didn’t know they were looking for but somehow completes them. The closest thing to treasure.
It’s like travelling to another country, then across another border as you enter the store next door.
There is never a sense of disappointment. Even a place, which at a glance appears not to be a match, will unveil its own charm and hidden qualities. Like a blind first date, upon meeting the immediate physical attraction may not be there, but after an absorbing conversation over dim light and with interesting details the facial features transform, and you’re left falling in love with a soul, not a face.
Native city dwellers come to feel like tourists.
Even the most trained eye would have difficulty separating tourist from native. Perhaps the only clue being the ease in which a Torontonian orders their meal, having ordered it so many times before, and yet experiencing zero remorse in having it yet again.
Hints of conversations linger in the air, making it difficult not to admit eavesdropping for the chance to be a part of the conversation.
A trip to the Poetry cafe and The Supermarket is a must to build a collection of music symbolic to specific moments, creating a personal soundtrack; although you may not be able to add tunes to a playlist just yet, as many songs performed live are original to the voice it belongs to.
Faces may contort if asked for the elusive wi-fi password. The lack of connection prompts a rekindling of relationship between pen and paper and in person conversation. A quick look around will prove that nobody seems to mind as visitors scroll through passerby’s rather than newfeeds.
Like how two colours come together to make a new colour, my red mixes with kensington’s yellow and together we make orange. Not missing the absence of our individual colours but instead enjoying the new colour we have created.
This is how I see it, and you, you will feel it differently through a different set of eyes, just as we can go on the same trip and have different experiences or know the same person and have a different opinion of them. but there will be things that we find in common and that is the thread woven through this very un-common place, community, inclusion and a combination of individual essence that creates one mosaic made of the individual pieces contained in it.
STYLE AND FASHION DIRECTION BY FELICIA ANN RYAN / PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANZ LENA / MAKEUP AND HAIR BY SANDRA YANG / HAIR BY MELANIE GUILLE / MODEL IS KATE FROM PLUTINO