Gerrard Street (Toronto)
Gerrard Street is a street in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It consists of two separate parts, one running east from University Avenue for 6 km to Coxwell Avenue, and the other starting 300 m north along Coxwell and continuing east for another 4 km to Clonmore Drive (between Victoria Park Avenue and Warden Avenue). In the vicinity of Coxwell Avenue the southern part of Gerrard Street is frequently referred to as Lower Gerrard, and the northern part is referred to as Upper Gerrard.
The "Upper Gerrard" stretch of road was originally a separate street called "Lake View Avenue", which was in the town of East Toronto. The name was changed after East Toronto was annexed by Toronto in 1908.
As is typical in Toronto, the street is divided into East and West addresses at Yonge Street. Atypically, the West portion of the street is very short — only four blocks long. At its western terminus of University Avenue, it is surrounded by hospitals consisting of Toronto General Hospital, Mount Sinai Hospital, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto Rehab, and the Hospital for Sick Children.
The bulk of Gerrard Street is actually known as Gerrard Street East. Ryerson University is located on Gerrard Street East just east of Yonge. Further to the east, at Parliament Street, where Gerrard Street East separates Cabbagetown from Regent Park, the Toronto Transit Commission's 506 Carlton streetcar turns onto Gerrard Street East at Parliament Street to continue its journey east as far as Main Street.
After crossing over the Don River, Gerrard Street East passes through Toronto's East Chinatown which is centred on Gerrard between Broadview Avenue and Carlaw Avenue. Continuing east, Gerrard Street East between Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue is home to one of the largest South Asian marketplaces in North America. At the intersection of Gerrard and Broadview Avenue are two bilingual street signs with the words "Gerrard St E / 芝蘭東街".
After the jog up Coxwell to "Upper Gerrard", the street is largely a mix of residential and small neighbourhood businesses. The TTC's 135 Gerrard bus serves the portion east of Main Street to Clonmore Drive on its route to Warden Station. At Victoria Park Avenue, the name of the street reverts simply to Gerrard Street (not Gerrard Street East) for the last four blocks before it ends by merging into Clonmore Drive. This oddity of nomenclature is a remnant of these last four blocks being in the old city of Scarborough, which did not label streets entering the city from Toronto with "East" designations.
"Gerrard St. represents a dividing line between separate administrative units. Since the redrawing of Toronto’s riding boundaries in 2000 the area north of Gerrard belongs to City Council Ward 30 (which meanders west to the Don River and also includes Toronto’s harbour); the area south is part of Ward 32, which extends into The Beaches. Similarly, the areas north and south of Gerrard are allocated to different census tracts: Census Tract 26 is bordered by Greenwood Ave. and Coxwell Ave. and from Gerrard extends south beyond Queen St.; Census Tract 74 is bordered by Greenwood Ave. in the west, Gerrard in the south, Coxwell in the east and the railway tracks in the north. "
South Asian markets and Gerrard India Bazaar
On Gerrard Street East between Greenwood Avenue and Coxwell Avenue, there are many Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Afghan and Sri Lankan restaurants, cafés, videos/DVD stores, clothing shops, electronic goods & home decor stores catering to the South Asian-Canadian communities. Along with Jackson Heights in New York and Devon Avenue in Chicago, it forms one of the largest South Asian marketplaces in North America. The area has never been home to a large South Asian population, rather it has served for several decades as commercial centre for South Asians living in the Toronto area. Today, it attracts visitors from the Toronto area, and from elsewhere in Canada and the United States. It celebrates the annual Festival of South Asia in late August.
A group of merchants have formed the "Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area" (BIA). 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. The area is also commonly referred to as "Little India" and Little Pakistan.
The neighbourhood originated in 1972 when businessman Gian Naaz purchased the Eastwood Theatre and began to show Bollywood films and also Pakistani films and dramas. This attracted large numbers of Indo-Canadians from across the GTA. This large traffic led to a number of other stores in the area to be created to cater to the South Asian community. The area expanded rapidly and features houses some 100 stores and restaurants and has spread over almost the entire length from Greenwood to Coxwell. The Gerrard India Bazaar was able to develop without a corresponding South Asian enclave because the vacancy of businesses in the area came before residential vacancies that could attract South Asian settlement in the area. In recent years a wide array of Pakistani stores have opened in the western part of the neighbourhood (near Greenwood), which is closely linked to the large Muslim community in the East Danforth area just to the north.
Beginning in the 1990s, Gerrard Street lost its central position as South Asians have settled in large numbers in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) suburbs. The new shopping centres and plazas in Toronto (Etobicoke/Scarborough), Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Vaughan and other areas of GTA have become more popular. Many sari, jewellery and other business catered to the Sri Lankan Tamil community have moved, first to the Kennedy and Eglinton area and subsequently to the Middlefield and Finch/Markham and Dennison areas.
- [Harald]; Angelica Suorineni. "Toronto's Little India: A Brief Neighbourhood History". Toronto's Little India: A Brief Neighbourhood History.
- Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area
- Brouse, Cynthia. "Indian Summer", Toronto Life, September 2005.
- Lalaie Ameeriar; Stanford University. Dept. of Anthropology (2008). Downwardly global: multicultural bodies and gendered labor migrations from Karachi to Toronto. Stanford University. p. 1.
- Suorineni, Angelica. Gerrard India Bazaar : an atypical ethnic economy in a residential neighbourhood.
- Gerrard India Bazaar Business Improvement Area website
- Festival of South Asia, presented by the Gerrard India Bazaar BIA
- "Little India Expedition".