HistoryFacing oppression and other problems in the United States of America in the late 19th century, Chinese workers immigrated to Toronto in search of better opportunities. These new arrivals settled down in the Ward District. The Chinese population in this neighbourhood gradually grew in the early 20th century. However, the construction of Nathan Phillips Square essentially destroyed much of the Toronto's original Chinatown. This large urban plaza includes the Toronto City Hall. Most of the city's Chinese people relocated their businesses and other operations to Spadina Avenue in the 1950s. This area has traditionally been home to a significant Jewish population. Since then, the neighbourhood has been known as Old Chinatown. In 1967, the Canadian government relaxed its policies on the Chinese Exclusion Act. Consequently, Chinatown of Toronto has become one of the largest ethnic enclaves of its kind in North America.
Dining and ShoppingChinatown of Toronto is lined with plenty of locally owned restaurants and eateries that serve authentic cuisine from various Chinese regions. This neighbourhood offers great opportunities to taste Sichuan, Fujian, Cantonese Hunan dishes. You'll also find several Dim Sum kitchens that serve delicious dumplings and other steamed small dishes. Toronto's Chinatown is also home to grocery stores and market shops that import exotic spices, herbs, fruit and vegetables that you probably won't find in modern grocery stores. From souvenirs to traditional organic supplements, this district offers plenty of bargains on modern Canadian and traditional Chinese items. As you walk into the small shops on Spadina Avenue, don't hesitate to negotiate on the prices of clothing, accessories, decor and other products. For example, you'll probably find Canada's famous maple syrup and China's herbal supplements on the same shelves.
Events and EntertainmentThe Toronto Chinatown Festival is one of the most exciting ethnic-themed events in Toronto. Held each year since 2000, the festival includes the traditional dragon and lion dances, kung fu performances, arts, crafts, music and other entertainment. Of course, visitors could also taste delicious Chinese and other Asian cuisine from food trucks and street vendors. The Chinese New Year is another major event that's held at Toronto's Chinatown each year. Colourful floats and people in dramatic costumes lead the parade on Spadina Avenue during this traditional holiday.
Location and TransportationChinatown is cantered at the intersection of Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street. This ethnic neighbourhood occupies just more than a dozen blocks in the heart of Downtown Toronto. Managed by the Toronto Transit Commission, the 510 streetcar makes multiple stops along the busy Spadina Avenue. Running in an east-west direction, the 505 streetcar makes several stops along Dundas Street. The 510-line links Chinatown with Union Station, which is the main transportation hub in Toronto. Go Transit and Via Rail trains serve this busy rail complex that's heavily used by commuters from the Ontario region. Due to the abundant streetcar service, Chinatown has limited bus service from the TTC. Nevertheless, this neighbourhood is located within walking distance of several TTC subway stations. Served by Line 1, the Queen's Park and St. Patrick underground stations are located along University Avenue. Many residents of Chinatown rely heavily on bicycles to get around, so you'll also find it easy to navigate the area on a bike as well.
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