Kensington Market

Street art on Augusta Avenue welcomes the eye to Kensington. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Street art on Augusta Avenue welcomes the eye to Kensington. ADAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Down the road where Bellevue leans in

and curves are houses with driveways

like thick plopped tongues leaking

onto the main street. Walking up

I see three boys holding BB guns

and an empty one abandoned

on the ground next to two stacked cans of pop.

Empty bullet shards drape their feet.

They only quickly look up at me, one boy

shuffling his hand across his hair revealing

little brown eyebrows. I imagine them

flexing up and down, doing a jig. The boys

galloping over driveways, shooting

at brick walls and small animals and girls,

the neighbourhood a bag of shrapnel

with a string tie that sometimes puckers,

sometimes yawns. Instead of hurling down

in clatters, the shrapnel turns to sugar

and the roads absorb it, sweating a little bit.

We swim, cupping our arms in and out

until the streets get too full and crack,

little boy tadpoles pirouetting and dying.


When I get closer the boys run inside the house,

their thin summer shirts are curtains refracting

an evening — a dissipating wilderness of space.

— Melina Mehr


Yonge & St. Clair

I live on Yonge Street, above a bar that attracts revelers who smoke cigarettes on my doorstep late at night. It’s an upscale area pocketed with reminders of an underclass. During the day, suits and heels fill the elegant clothiers and cafés, ignoring the panhandlers stationed outside — but in the evening, I have the streets almost to myself.

This is the best time to ride my bike, looking for a market that sells affordable vegetables. There are no bike lanes on Yonge so I take side streets, winding through imposing houses with impeccable landscaping.

Before dark, I seek refuge from the perpetual noise of the city. I descend for an hour at a time into the stillness of the ravine, trying to find a new path to follow each evening. Most trails are dead ends. I’m always looking for one that leads to some place other than Deer Park, away from the Rosedales and Forest Hills and Avenue Roads of this city. Perhaps one day I will find a path that is not forked.


Trinity Bellwoods

Street art near Trinity-Bellwoods Park reinforces the countercultural atmosphere. AZAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

Street art near Trinity-Bellwoods Park reinforces the countercultural atmosphere. AZAM ZACHARY/THE VARSITY

I was to meet her at the corner of Bathurst and Queen. My commute had been quicker than expected, and I had gotten there a good half-hour before our agreed-upon time. There wasn’t a whole lot else to do except wait, unless I could find a way to occupy myself — which, being in an unfamiliar part of town, I was not terribly certain how to do. I was nervous enough as it was,— this was to be our first actual date — so I turned my anxious pacing into leisurely strolling.

The late July sun oozed pleasant warmth onto the pavement, and my shadow and I fumbled our way towards it, walking west along Queen. The notion of exploring a previously untapped neighbourhood was exciting — the actualization of local wanderlust. It was the realization that something could have existed all this time without you knowing it, and the stunned disbelief that it had taken you this long to see it.

I took in as much of the stretch as I could. I found the cupcake place where she and I were to go, and I found Trinity Bellwoods Park, a place of which I had heard but had never seen.

I memorized the neighbourhood by the time I met her at the corner. But as we walked through it, I forgot it entirely. She was all that mattered. We ate cupcakes and read beneath a tree. Trinity-Bellwoods was not geography: it was summer and love and wonder.

— Daniel Konikoff


Christie Pits to Trinity-Bellwoods


the street

bends and twirls


switching directions

trying to find its way

she recalls a change


the street remembers how a haven

for summer swimmers

was once a place of industry

and recalls a night of violence


the street holds up

a man from Pakistan

on the steps of his Portuguese store

he smiles at three children

running past

creating a cloud of dust

that hovers above the sidewalk


onto the street

the man flicks the ash of his cigarette

and gives a friendly nod to the professor-parents

who wearily follow

their overzealous spawn

to the promised after-dinner gelato


glancing across the street

an old woman hears the commotion

she is reminded of the days when

it was her house full of noise

she laments,

her sons have all left for

backyard pools in suburban lands

that seem a world away


the street watches

young men brawl at midnight

fueled by cheap martinis and churros

interrupted by an insomniac

pushing past their brawn

into a store that never closes

the street rolls down the hill

reminiscing about a creek

that once past through her

she widens

where men in robes once walked

scarved lovers dodge unleashed dogs


the street pauses

wary of the streetcars whizzing past her

— India McAlister


Bloor West Village

Bloor West Village clings to its traditional soul — Pizza Pizza and McDonald’s are juxtaposed against quaint flower shops and hand-crafted jewellery stores. I can see the lifelines disappearing, one by one. Laura Secord first, where I used to go for $1 chocolate, and Hallmark, where I would laugh at the musical cards. Then Book City followed; Baskin Robbins next, where 30 cent scoop day would be the highlight of April in middle school; then the smaller cafés and Write Impressions last summer. There are ten coffee shops here now: Starbucks, Timothy’s, Coffee Tree, and seven more. Seven beauty salons, five elementary schools, and a movie theatre. We have managed to avoid condos until now, but we lost the historic-theatre-turned-bookstore to another Shoppers Drug Mart this month.

The quiet, serene side-streets and grassy parks lace into bustling Bloor like veins feeding a beating heart. It’s a different world just one minute down the road, where stray cats hiss at raccoons and kids toboggan down Rennie hill after an hour at the skating rink. It is a simpler world of swing-sets, brightly coloured playgrounds, and lakeside trails down to High Park and lakeshore. In the middle of it all, tradition and and change are wrestling for the upper hand. We have the best of both worlds, but it’s unlikely to stay that way.

— Linh Nguyen