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Gerrard India Bazaar

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Gerrard India Bazaar

A Pakistani rickshaw on Gerrard Street

Gerrard India Bazaar is an ethnic neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Known as the city's prime "Little India", it consists of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghan and Sri Lankan restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, and clothing stores catering to South Asian communities. It is entirely situated along a portion of Gerrard Street, between Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue, forming one of the largest South Asian marketplaces in North America. Although the area does not house a significant South Asian population, it has instead historically served as a commercial centre for South Asians living in Greater Toronto and has eventually established itself as one of the city's top cultural landmarks. It celebrates the annual Festival of South Asia in late August.[1]

A group of merchants have formed the Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area (BIA).[2] The BIA sponsors events that appeal to the different South Asian groups that shop in the area: in 2004, Diwali, the Hindu and Sikh festival of lights, and Eid ul-Fitr, the Islamic feast day that marks the end of Ramadan, occurred around the same time in November. The BIA held a joint Diwali-Eid festival.[3] The area is also commonly referred to as "Little India" and Little Pakistan.[4]

History

The neighbourhood originated in 1972 when businessman Gian Naaz purchased the Eastwood Theatre on Gerrard Street, now known as the Naaz Theatre, and began to screen Bollywood and Pakistani films. This attracted large numbers of Indo-Canadians from across Greater Toronto, leading to a number of new businesses opening to cater the South Asian community. The area expanded rapidly and to nearly 100 stores and restaurants spreading over a large stretch of the street between Greenwood Avenue to Coxwell Avenue. While no South Asians were residents in that part of the city, the Gerrard India Bazaar was still able to form and thrived with daily visitors.[5]

Legacy

Beginning in the 1990s, Gerrard Street lost its central position of South Asian commerce, as South Asian immigrants began to settle in increasingly large numbers in other parts of Greater Toronto. Within Toronto, the neighbourhoods of Agincourt North (Scarborough), Malvern (Scarborough), Woburn (Scarborough), Regent Park (Old Toronto), Thorncliffe Park (East York), Humberwood (Etobicoke) and Rexdale (Etobicoke) contain majority South Asian populations and businesses, leading to their statuses as additional South Asian ethnic enclaves within the city. Other South Asian neighbourhoods have also developed in the surrounding cities of Mississauga, Brampton, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham and Pickering, with rapidly growing communities in Milton and Ajax.

References

  1. ^ Brouse
  2. ^ Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area
  3. ^ Brouse, Cynthia. "Indian Summer", Toronto Life, September 2005.
  4. ^ Lalaie Ameeriar; Stanford University. Dept. of Anthropology (2008). Downwardly global: multicultural bodies and gendered labor migrations from Karachi to Toronto. Stanford University. p. 1. 
  5. ^ Suorineni, Angelica. "Gerrard India Bazaar : an atypical ethnic economy in a residential neighbourhood". 

External links

  • Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area website

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