SPACE - Mapping of Black Toronto

Through this CARTO exhibit, I have created an on-going collection of sites with cultural/social significance to the Black Caribbean/Canadian community in Metropolitan Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I focus on sites of interests from bakeries, groceries, restaurants, meeting spaces, venues, bars, nightclubs, churches, and everything in between during the majority of the twentieth century. What makes these mapped locations "Black" or "Caribbean"? If a person of African descent performed, congregated, or visited a specific site, then it counted as a Black site. If a person of African descent mentioned a particular place in conversation, or this site was advertised or featured in local Black Caribbean newspapers, then it also counted as a significant site of memory in Black Toronto and in this archive.

I used open data from the City of Toronto Data Catalogue, which provided this map with the former boundaries of the Metropolitan Toronto Area (Toronto, York, East York, North York, Scarborough, and Etobicoke). You will notice that many Black locations are centered in downtown Toronto from the mid to late twentieth century.  This is also where the historic Black and Caribbean communities developed in the city, such as Cabbagetown, St. John's Ward, the Annex, and Little Jamaica/Eglinton Avenue West.  Later on, as the Black Caribbean community grows and disperses, the Black Canadian/Caribbean business class moves and grows alongside its community in the outer boroughs of the city. With the addition of the City of Toronto "Cultural Hotspots" data, I looked at the areas of influence from the Black spaces within 500 metres. Right away, one can see that the spaces and places created and inhabited by Black Toronto barely overlap with the spaces and places curated by the local municipal government. We can see what the local government considers "culture", and it does not align with these Black geographies.

It would be remiss if I did not point out the obvious. This is a preliminary collection of spaces and places significant to members of the Black Caribbean-Canadian community. Over time, through crowd-sourcing, oral histories, and more archival research, this collection can continue to grow and become more expansive. On the other hand, the Black geographies of Toronto and other spaces in the Black Atlantic are complicated. No matter what, there will be hidden geographies of people, spaces, and places that do not wish to be located. This alternate mapping of Black Toronto lives in the personal knowledge and cartographies of those who experience it.