Little Jamaica

Unearth Uncover #BlackedOutHistory: Little Jamaica

Little Jamaica is a neighbourhood along Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto. Since 1958, it has been home to people from all over the Caribbean. There are sidewalk vendors selling coconut water and jerk chicken, barbershops, beauty supply stores, restaurants, tailors, and reggae music stores all with connections to Jamaican and other Caribbean cultures. For many years this neighbourhood has been threatened by gentrification, LRT construction and neglect by the City of Toronto authorities. Recently, thanks to advocacy by groups like Black Urbanism Toronto and Black Futures on Eglinton, the city passed a motion to make Little Jamaica a ‘heritage conservation district under study,’ which will allow the city’s planning department to study and survey the area in order to preserve it under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Two important figures in the heritage of the Toronto Caribbean community are Charles Roach and the Hon. Jean Augustine – two of the founding members of Caribana, a festival that celebrates Emancipation Day in Canada as well as Caribbean culture and heritage. The first parade was a gift to Canada on its 100th birthday and was held in Little Jamaica.

“Since much of the Black past has been deliberately buried, covered over, and demolished, it is our task to unearth, uncover, and piece it together again.” – Dr. Afua Cooper