Kensington Market: Collective Memory, Public History, and Toronto's Urban Landscape

By Na Li

© 2015

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood has been home to a multicultural mosaic of immigrant communities: Jewish, Portuguese, Chinese, South Asian, Caribbean, and many others. Despite repeated transformations, the neighbourhood has never lost its vibrant, close-knit character.

In Kensington Market, urban planner and public historian Na Li explores both the Market’s dynamic history and the ways in which planners can access the intangible collective memory that helps define neighbourhoods like it around the world. Through examinations of memorable Kensington landmarks such as the Kiev Synagogue, Hyman’s Bookstore, and United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, Li traces the connections between the Market’s built environment and the experiences of its inhabitants, providing a sterling example of how to map the intangible value of this national landmark.

Li’s book will be a must-read for those fascinated with this iconic Toronto neighbourhood, as well as anyone with an interest in the role heritage and collective memory can play in urban planning.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 144 pages
  • Illustrations: 37
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.4in x 9.0in
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SKU# SP003790

  • PUBLISHED JUN 2015

    From: $19.46

    Regular Price: $25.95

    ISBN 9781442616219
  • PUBLISHED JUN 2015

    From: $43.50

    Regular Price: $58.00

    ISBN 9781442648173
  • PUBLISHED MAY 2015
    From: $25.95

Quick Overview

Li’s book will be a must-read for those fascinated with this iconic Toronto neighbourhood, as well as anyone with an interest in the role heritage and collective memory can play in urban planning.

Kensington Market: Collective Memory, Public History, and Toronto's Urban Landscape

By Na Li

© 2015

Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Toronto’s Kensington Market neighbourhood has been home to a multicultural mosaic of immigrant communities: Jewish, Portuguese, Chinese, South Asian, Caribbean, and many others. Despite repeated transformations, the neighbourhood has never lost its vibrant, close-knit character.

In Kensington Market, urban planner and public historian Na Li explores both the Market’s dynamic history and the ways in which planners can access the intangible collective memory that helps define neighbourhoods like it around the world. Through examinations of memorable Kensington landmarks such as the Kiev Synagogue, Hyman’s Bookstore, and United Bakers Dairy Restaurant, Li traces the connections between the Market’s built environment and the experiences of its inhabitants, providing a sterling example of how to map the intangible value of this national landmark.

Li’s book will be a must-read for those fascinated with this iconic Toronto neighbourhood, as well as anyone with an interest in the role heritage and collective memory can play in urban planning.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 144 pages
  • Illustrations: 37
  • Dimensions: 6.1in x 0.4in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    Kensington Market will doubtless serve as a source of inspiration for planners seeking more socially inclusive approaches to their work, and for students seeking case studies of unconventional urban development.’


    Jennifer Bonnell
    Ontario History, Autumn 2016

    ‘Na Li sheds brilliant light on what precisely makes ethnic neighbourhoods "ethnic" in the eyes of both residents and outsiders, and how to preserve these neighbourhoods… Certainly this engaging and important work deserves a wide readership and will fill a key gap in the scholarly literature.’


    Jack Lipinsky
    Canadian Jewish Studies vol 24:2016

    "In Kensington Market: Collective Memory, Public History, and Toronto's Urban Landscape Li reveals layers of history and memory about this renowned multicultural neighbourhood in the heart of Canada's largest city. In less than one hundred pages, she cxonveys the importance of place, preservation, and memories."
    Joanna Dawson
    Canada's History, April-May 2016

    Kensington Market combines scholarship with personal enthusiasm, empathy, and a commitment to communicating the essence of a place. Addressing Kensington Market as a distinctive place defined by its unique history, memories, and population, rendered in its evolving landscapes, Li recaps past planning attempts and recommends a shift from bureaucratic procedures to a more sensitive approach that incorporates the rich personal, cultural, and emotional experience of this neighbourhood.”


    Brian Osborne, Professor Emeritus, Department of Geography, Queen’s University

    “Grounded in a wide range of contemporary and classic texts and spanning a diverse range of theoretical perspectives, Kensington Market shows Na Li’s deep connection to the market, its people, and its history.”
    Pamela Robinson, School of Urban and Regional Planning, Ryerson University

    Kensington Market offers an impressive depth of historical and empirical detail about Kensington, including its history, its challenges, the memories of its residents, and its changing urban landscapes. Those familiar with the rich history, structure, and evolution of this ‘port of entry’ for immigrants from all over the world will agree that this book provides a well-organized and representative snapshot of the journey of those that settled there and built and rebuilt the neighbourhood over the course of a century.”


    Carlos Teixeira, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia Okanagan
  • Author Information

    Na Li is a research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences at Chongqing University and an adjunct professor at Shanghai Normal University, China.

  • Table of contents

    1. Memory and History: Urban Streetscapes as Public History

    2. Kensington Market – an Urban Neighbourhood, a Cultural Metaphor

    3. Collective Memory and Kensington Market

    4. From Sites of Memory to Memoryscape: Wisdom Sits in Place

    5. A Sense of Time and a Sense of Place: The Past Is Not a Foreign Country

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