By Aaron Zaretsky
What does being Canadian mean? Well, it means the diversity of cultures within the country. According to Canada's 2016 census, 22.3 % of the population are visible minority groups. Toronto is arguably the most diverse city in Canada. Based on the Toronto 2016 census visible minority groups represent 51.5 % of Toronto's population. Also, there are 140 neighbourhoods in Toronto with 23 different languages being a top non-official home language in these neighbourhoods. Below are 10 languages that may surprise you.
10. Kingsview Village/The Westway
In Kingsview Village/The Westway, ranging from Humber River to Kipling Avenue, the top non-official home language is Somali which is the official language of Somalia in Northeast Africa aka Horn of Africa. Kingsview Village/The Westway has the largest Somali-speaking population in Toronto – known to some as “Little Mogadishu” named after the Somali Captial Mogadishu.
9. Etobicoke West Mall
In the Etobicoke West Mall neighbourhood, ranging from The West Mall to Renforth Drive, English-speaking reigns over this neighbourhood. However, the second most common language is Serbian which is the official language of Serbia. In this neighbourhood, Serbian-speaking people reigns amongst non-official home languages.
8. New Toronto
The New Toronto neighbourhood, centered around Islington Ave and Lake Shore Blvd West, got its name in the late 19th century for being an industrial centre and expected to surpass ‘Old’ Toronto in manufacturing. This industrial neighbourhood is overwhelmingly an English-speaking neighbourhood but the second most common language is Polish. Surprising huh?
7. South Parkdale
South Parkdale, ranging from Queen Street West to the Gardiner Expressway, is one of Toronto’s most diverse neighbourhoods with Tibetan, Tagalog, Polish, and Hungarian cultures. The top non-official home language in South Parkdale is Tibetan – the official language of Tibet which is a province in China – by a wide margin, tripled the amount of the third most common home language - Polish. South Parkdale is known as Little Tibet, and is home to the Riwoche Tibetan Buddhist Temple. The Tibetan community invites people of all cultures to come into the temple.
Many might not even know where Woburn is. Located in the Scarborough area community, the top non-official home language is Gujarati – the official language of Gujarat which is a state in India. If you didn’t know already, Gujarati is a combination of Urdu, Gujarati and Sindhi however the language itself is from the Sanskrit language.
5. Forest Hill North
In Forest Hill South, the second most common home language is Mandarin. Safe to say it’s the same case in the the North, right? Surprisingly, in Forest Hill North, ranging from Allen Road to Latimer Avenue, the dominant language is Tagalog which is the official language of the Philippines in its standardized form, Filipino. Forest Hill North and South are beside each other and it is fascinating how the top non-official home languages are vastly different!
4. East End-Danforth
Danforth is known as Greektown. However, the East End of Danforth, centered around Danforth Avenue – home of the annual Greek celebration festival, Taste of the Danforth, does not have Greek in the top-10 non-English home language. Bengali – the official language of Bangladesh – and Cantonese – a dialect of Chinese – are tied for top non-official home language in this neighbourhood.
3. Palmerston/Little Italy
The Palmerston/Little Italy area, ranging from Bloor Street West to College Street, is one of the original ethnically Italian neighbourhoods in Toronto. One would assume that the most common or second most common home language in this neighbourhood would be Italian, right? Surprisingly, Italian is third with Portuguese being second and English being the most common home language in this neighbourhood.
2. Black Creek
In the Black Creek neighbourhood, ranging from Steeles Avenue West to Finch Avenue West, the top non-official language is Vietnamese. This is a surprise because Black Creek is known as an African-American community. But the Vietnamese population is an example of Toronto’s diversity as, similar to Palmerston/Little Italy and East End-Danforth, you cannot judge a neighbourhood by race or name.
1. Thorncliffe Park
In Thorncliffe Park, ranging from Eglinton Avenue East to the Don River, English is the most used language but is not majority as non-official home languages accumulate 58% of the neighbourhood. Out of the non-official languages, the most used is Urdu which is a variant of the Hindustani language and official language of Pakistan. Also, Pashto – the second-largest language of Pakistan, is a distant second. Thorncliffe Park exemplifies Toronto’s diversity and a sign of things to come.
Two years ago BBC Radio declared Toronto as the most diverse city in the world.
These neighbourhoods are example of Toronto’s diversity. Diversity is what Toronto means to me, and I am proud to reside in the Six!