Happy (Chinese) New Year!

On our recent Friday excursion, Peter and I decided to do something to celebrate. But the weather outside was chilly – minus 14. We got up early to get dressed. It takes a while to put on thermal undies, two pairs of socks, mittens, scarves, warm boots, heavy jackets, and hats. We also wore our N95 masks – not only for covid protection bot also to keep our cheeks warm.

Finally we were ready! We hopped on the subway and then took a bus, going west along Queen St to Augusta Ave where we got off and walked north through Kensington Market. I had never been to Kensington Market before. The description of Kensington as a bohemian, vibrant, diverse neighbourhood had me intrigued. I was not disappointed. The boutique stores sell fruits and vegetables, sex toys, tattoo services, flowers, cannabis, vintage clothes, and baked goods. Something for everyone!

The neighbouhood has gone through many iterations since its beginning in the 1920’s. In 2006 it was named a National Historic Site with bylaws such as building height restrictions, meant to keep it as a city treasure. Artists and writers make their home there, and tourists come from all over the world to walk its streets. It’s a far cry from the early Jewish Market where new immigrants displayed produce from hand carts in front of their homes, and where chickens roamed freely until they were sold.

As Peter and I strolled along, we came across a CTV news journalist who was soliciting opinions about Covid. We stopped and Peter stepped in front of the mic. He was only to happy to describe our life since Covid: unable to travel outside of the country, we have spent countless hours exploring the city’s neighbourhoods on foot. Kensington Market is just one of them.

After Peter’s tv debut, we continued north along Augusta Ave to College and our final destination – the new T& T store on College Street.

T&T is a chain of supermarkets that is familiar to us because some of our kids shop there. T&T, named after the founder’s two daughters, Tina and Tiffany, was started in 1993 by Cindy Lee who wanted to provide familiar quality ingredients for Asian people. Her flagship store is in Burnaby BC, and there are 26 other Canadian stores now, 3 of them in the GTA.

The new store was decorated with bright Chinese lanterns and shelves of New Years gifts such as gold “lucky money.” We were looking for noodles and found an entire aisle devoted to them: flat, curly, vermicelli, rice, stick, air-dried, seasoned, and more. We stared in awe at the produce, many products like lettuce root unfamiliar to us. We tried to count the different kids of soy sauce and lost track.

fish balls

Then we found the hot table and decided it was time for our Chinese New Year lunch. After filling our plastic containers with vegetables, pork ribs, fish balls, and of course noodles, we looked for a place to eat. Oops – no in-store dining! We were directed to the store entrance one floor below, where we found a counter and stood beside it to eat.

Then Peter started to get anxious. He hurried to find a garbage can and then quickly re-dressed in hat, scarf, gloves and coat. He eagerly led me towards the subway and home. When we arrived, he sat down in front of the TV, and turned on the CTV news. And there he was – hardly recognizable in his mask and Russian Cossack hat. His speech had been edited to about one sentence. But hey, it was fame!

Gong Hey Fat Choy everyone.


6 thoughts on “Happy (Chinese) New Year!

  1. We haven’t been to Kensington market for at least 20 years but your post makes me want to go back. We used to watch the King of Kensington, a TV show, with Al Waxman who has unfortunately found a new market in the sky. Lucky that we recognized Peter’s voice or we never would have recognized the bundled up couple. It must have been the double socks disguise!


  2. Hi Sue
    That was great fun to read. Jim and I spent lots of time in Kensington getting clothes made at the famous Tom’s and poking around from the 60’s. I am glad you finally made it there and Peter had his moment as star.


  3. Garbage can–that good, eh? LOL But I have a warm feeling for Kensington Market, which was called the Jewish Market when I grew up around there. Live chickens for sale and everything fascinating. I took a blue crab home as a pet once…didn’t make it past a day, sad to say To Peter: one line can change the world!

    Enjoy your rambles, you two. I really look forward to reading your impressions, Sue; especially since often for me it’s a trip down memory lane.


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