All too often, Toronto’s media treats the suburbs and their large immigrant and racialized communities like some undiscovered country. Last March, when U.S. economist Tyler Cowen declared that Scarborough had the best ethnic food on the continent, media like the Toronto Star, City News, and CTV reacted predictably: with some surprise (mystifying to anyone who’s ever eaten east of Victoria Park) and some self-congratulation (psst: occasional “exotic” restaurant reviews don’t scratch the surface of the suburban food scene). Meanwhile, here at the Ethnic Aisle we were more than a bit baffled.
The suburbs (i.e. “the 905” plus Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke) are often treated like they aren’t really part of Toronto, or real at all. We've always wanted to challenge this bias. It’s nonsensical. Thousands of people work west of Kipling but live east of Yonge, or shop south of Dundas and live north of Steeles, crossing invisible borders every day. Mainly, we like good stories and the GTA is full of stories of art, and murder, and terrible transit and, yes, really good food.
Welcome to the East to West issue of the Ethnic Aisle, in which we delve into the challenges and joys of life in Toronto's suburbs.
Photograph by Kalpna Patel
A co-worker once said my neighbourhood was a place he could “get weed and a hooker in less than 10 minutes.” To me it was home.
These are our favourite Hakka Chinese restaurants in the GTA. (Why are we even telling you this?!)
Paul “Kaze” Thurton has stayed suburban on purpose.
This trip, twice a day, five days a week, wears the nerves raw.
Does being in a certain neighbourhood render a store “ethnic retail”?
Toronto's new Aga Khan museum evades the staleness that often greets “purposeful” multiculturalism.
Like the Victorians of yore, the suburbanites enjoying Toronto's green spaces show the proper mix of exuberance and respect.
On the death of Jermaine Carby, who was shot by the Peel police.
The intersection of Hurontario and Dundas Streets is a study in supply and demand.
The 401 remains my urban lifeline: every exit tells a story.
Bootlegged goods, Badtz Maru and bubble tea.
Scarborough studios, Mississauga clubs and the Thornhill scene: GTA musicians on cultivating their art in and out of the downtown core.