Day Out: Open Doors Toronto 2014 and Kensington Market Pedestrian Sunday

05.26.2014

By Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez / @ZaraAlexis

Now, that the Victoria Day weekend has come and gone to mark the beginning of summer in Toronto, it’s been an exciting time in my household where the kids are always raring to put on their sandals and hit the outdoors. If it’s not biking around the block or going to a local park, it’s running around with LEGO or bubbles in the backyard.

But, this past weekend was primarily for Mommy. While I conceded to the kids spending an afternoon at Chinguacousy Park while I played a bit of lacrosse on Saturday, Sunday I had planned to hit downtown Toronto for the Open Doors 2014 event and one of my favourite hot-spots, Kensington Market.

Xara enjoying our impromptu picnic at Chinguacousy Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara enjoying our impromptu picnic at Chinguacousy Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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It was all perfectly timed since the context of Open Doors Toronto is to open its doors to more than 155 architecturally, historically, culturally, and socially significant buildings across the city. This year’s theme was Secrets and Spirits… Exploring the Mysteries Behind the Door.

While I didn’t visit the buildings I had originally planned to like I have in previous years, my family and I simply roamed the streets to see what buildings we might feel like visiting on a whim.

And because we travelled by GO bus to Union Station, I agreed to visit Commerce Court North on 25 King St. West, the location where I worked when I worked with CIBC Wood Gundy as a sales associate a number of years ago, which also happened to be on the list for Open Doors Toronto. Secrets and spirits? While I wasn’t aware of any at Commerce Court, returning there after a number of years with my husband and children brought a nostalgia I was far from expecting. The building was intact, however, its ceilings a testament to beauty, artistry, and the prize of abiding commerce.

Commerce Court North. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Commerce Court North. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The kids in front of Commerce Court North. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The kids in front of Commerce Court North. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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After the children finished a colouring page of Toronto’s skyline, our stomachs guided us to a place for lunch, but before we arrived, we took a light detour to The Arcadian, formerly known as The Simpson Tower, another place which has context for me. I had studied to become an ESL teacher to teach in Japan there a number of years ago.

While Michael didn’t venture upstairs to the Mezzanine, Xara was delighted by its spaciousness and minimalist place settings. I particularly enjoyed the clean lines and the natural lighting, a popular venue for cocktail parties and modern weddings.

Arcadian - upstairs mezzanine
The Arcadian, upper level view. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Padded walls and seating at The Arcadian. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Padded walls and seating at The Arcadian. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Arcs, upper level at The Arcadian. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Arcs, upper level at The Arcadian. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The large banquet halls of The Arcadian aroused our hunger in time for lunch, so we walked to the Eaton Centre and ate at the Underground Eatery after taking in a few sites: the well-known birds in flight and the famous, high-rising water fountain.

The birds in flight at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The birds in flight at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Michael, LEGO Master Builder, thrilled to find Emmett at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Michael, LEGO Master Builder, thrilled to find Emmett at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My husband and daughter delighted with the sight of the water fountain at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My husband and daughter delighted with the sight of the water fountain at the Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The french fry at the Urban Eatery, Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The french fry at the Urban Eatery, Eaton Centre. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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With our stomachs full, the kids were again revitalized and ready to ride the Rocket to Queen’s Park Station, where we made our way to Kensington Market for the very first celebration of Pedestrian Sunday of the summer.

The expert commuters enjoying their subway ride to Queen's Park station. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
The expert commuters enjoying their subway ride to Queen’s Park station. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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The wonderful thing about commuting on a beautiful day in Toronto is not only getting great exercise, but enjoying the sights in a more intimate way, rather than driving through traffic and passing not only architectural delights, but opportunities to engage with your family and those in your community.

On our way to Kensington, I caught a few things I was more than happy to record on digital film with my android phone.

At College and University Ave. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
At College and University Ave. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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At Queen's Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
At Queen’s Park. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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According to my son, this is Lord Business' building from The LEGO Movie. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
According to my son, this is Lord Business’ building from The LEGO Movie. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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University of Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
University of Toronto. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Before we reached Kensington, we made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s for an iced cappuccino and an opportunity to use their washroom. My daughter tried an iced cappuccino for the first time and said, “Mmm, it’s good. It tastes like coffee,” at which I asked, “How do you know what coffee tastes like?” She told us her grandfather, Papa Cesar gave her some! Uh-huh. The things you discover on these little day trips.

Xara, who tried an iced cappuccino for the first time at Tim Horton's. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Xara, who tried an iced cappuccino for the first time at Tim Horton’s. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Me and Michael at Timmy's. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Me and Michael at Timmy’s. (c) Photo by Esly R. Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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By the time we reached Kensington Market, it was a buzzing with colourful people, music, and art! Kensington is by far, one of my favourite spots to visit when I’m downtown. It was wonderful to be a part of the very first Pedestrian Sunday when they close off the Market to cars and have live bands, artists, and vendors on the streets to accommodate the crowds that come on the last Sunday of every month.

A musician playing Latino music at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
A musician playing Latino music at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Fruit stand, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Fruit stand, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Live music at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Live music at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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My favourite form of transportation: the vintage bicycle. Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
My favourite form of transportation: the vintage bicycle. Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Fire juggler at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Fire juggler at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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DaVintage Code shop, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
DaVintage Code shop, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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A blast from the past. Vintage car at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
A blast from the past. Vintage car at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Flash Back vintage shop, one of my favourites at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Flash Back vintage shop, one of my favourites at Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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Courage My Love vintage shop, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.
Courage My Love vintage shop, Kensington Market. (c) Photo by Zara D. Garcia-Alvarez. All rights reserved.

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I caught the vintage bug a number of years ago when I first discovered thrift shops, which is where I do most of my shopping. Not only do I love great deals, I love the unique selection provided by thrift and vintage shops, and the elation I feel when I discover a vintage piece, be it clothes, shoes, or accessories.

Aside from my local Bibles for Missions thrift store, Goodwill, Salvation Army Thrift, Value Village, Talize, and Flea Market, I love grabbing vintage goodies from Kensington Market. While things are for the most part, largely over-priced, if I dig hard enough and have Lady Luck on my side, I usually score a great piece from the $5-rack at Courage My Love (which I did, of course, on Pedestrian Sunday!).

If you’re in Toronto, head on down to Kensington Avenue and Spadina to find one of its most vibrant and free-spirited places. I highly recommend Pedestrian Sundays on the last Sunday of every month where you can enjoy the sights, sounds, and buzz of smoked BBQ, cultural eats, live music, art, and where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, plants and flowers, and vintage clothes, and jewellery.

Looking for a great piece of Tibetan jewellery? Wacky sunglasses? A Latino maraca? Homemade peanut butter? African head scarves? Organic zucchini? Salvadorean pupusas? Old cowboy boots? A dress from 1965? Beaded jewellery? Or an army jacket? A place where eating on the curb of a sidewalk or dancing in the street is not uncommon nor prohibited? A colourful place to hang out with colourful people? Kensington Market is the place to go—and stay awhile.

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Have you ever visited Kensington Market?

If so, what’s your favourite part about it?

What’s your favourite shop there?

What’s the best find you’ve discovered while visiting Kensington?

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zara cat stamp

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