Parkdale - Canada


The Toronto West End neighbourhood of Parkdale, home to nearly 40,000 Parkdalians,is a diverse and dynamic part of Toronto. Since the building of the Gardiner Expressway in the 1950’s and 60’s, which divided the neighbourhood from the lakefront and was followed by the construction of many apartment buildings, Parkdale has become an area with a large population of newcomers and low-income renters.


In the 1970’s the Ontario Government decided to release many long-term mental illness patients into the community. Around this time large mansions were being turned into multi-unit rental stock and illegal rooming houses. The area developed a reputation as a neighbourhood rife with poverty, crime, drugs, homelessness, and large numbers of people living with mental illness.


Parkdale is a focal point in Toronto and representative of the character of its booming population. The mixed income neighbourhood is at the center of conversations about gentrification as issues around home affordability and rising real estate prices are ever present. The city’s condominium boom is beginning to encroach into Parkdale. Some have gone as far as to dub the neighbourhood “Vegandale”, as a sign of its gentrifying nature.


These photographs were made while exploring Parkdale with a desire to meet, learn from, and better understand people in its midst, especially those most vulnerable to the changes being experienced in their neighbourhood.


Photographs taken in 2019 and 2020. 

A man turns his head to face the camera  while singing in front of a friend's home on Dowling Avenue.

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Rudy sits at a hangout spot on West Lodge Avenue.

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Lucy on the steps of Bonar-Parkdale Presbyterian Church.

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Passers-by in the parking lot of the Dollarama on Queen Street West.

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Ron outside of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre.

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Chantal and her dog on Queen Street West.

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Stewart Douglas outside of the Parkdale Branch of the Toronto Public Library.

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Slated for demolition; a McDonald's restaurant at King and Dufferin Streets.

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Philosopher David Ross speaks about the "Musicality of Reality" at the Free School at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre. 

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Friends Nash and Shannon at Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre.

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Arnie and Paul sit on the front porch of a rooming house that they both live in on Laxton Avenue.

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Tara and Chase pose in the Milky Way alleyway.

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Splotches of paint on a former LCBO location (Ontario government alcohol store) on Brock Avenue near Queen Street West.

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A Tibetan woman poses for the camera. She had just had her passport photo taken at Best Image for a visa application. 

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Wino at King Mini Mart store. She has been working at the convenience store for about 10 years on King Street West.

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Shannon at his home with his "wall of fame". Shannon says he has helped a lot of people by letting them stay with him in his apartment in Edmond Place.

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The remaining heritage designated building at King and Dufferin Streets following the demolition of a plaza that housed a McDonald's and Hasty Market. 

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A man outside of Sun Fa Restaurant.

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Paul laying outside of the Parkdale Business Improvement Area.

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Wayne poses in front of a convenience store on Queen Street West. 

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