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Toronto's Greektown is Still Greek
21/11/2005

A story on the front of today's National Post makes the claim that there is little truth left to the ethnicity of certain well-known Toronto neighbourhoods.

U of T Assistant Professor Jason Hackworth has completed a study where he claims to show that the Italians have left Little Italy, the Greeks have left the Danforth, and the identities of these regions are mere marketing identities.

There's no doubt that the local businesses have benefited from the branding that they have chosen. But, in the case of my neighbourhood at least, the Danforth strip is still very Greek.

It's true that most of the homes in the immediate area are populated by non-Greeks, but there are still lots of Greeks living in the area, especially outside the upscale Riverdale area. More significantly, the stores and restaurants on the Danforth are not Greek-in-name-only. They are run by Greeks and a great proportion of the clientele are Greek. Any day of the week I can look at my office window and see old Greek families moving along the sidewalk, and trendy young Greeks buying cool clothes and hanging out in the cafes.

The Post article suggests that Hackworth used Statistics Canada data to show that the percentage of immigrants has been declining. (For example, "in 1970, more than 25% of people in Toronto's Little Italy were Italian-born. By 2001, only 7.3% were Italian-born". I assume he may have taken a similar approach in the Danforth.) The problem with this is that Greekness seems to have little to do with country of birth. A remarkable number of second- and even third-generation Greeks are still marrying Greeks and teaching Greek to their kids.


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