On the surface, Toronto’s Chinatown is a geographic area where Chinese persons have settled and congregated over the years. The truth under the surface is Chinatown seems to be one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the city.
On the surface, along the streets of Dundas Street West or Spadina, there exists the presentable facade of storefronts and restaurant signs, of grocery stands full of colorful fruits and vegetables. Behind those businesses, down the side alleys and back lots, is where the business of doing business occurs.
It’s also a spot where the call letters of the area’s youth, spray-painted insignia and tags, come to light.
Some of it you would call artistic.
On the surface, the area is unmistakably Toronto. Sometimes, in a few rare areas, the scene underneath looks more like a Beijing hutong.
Always looking for the best, shoppers peel back the surface layer to reveal the real fruit.
Inside one of the many stores selling cell phones and Chinese art and artifacts, there is a seldom-seen back stairwell, paintings and posters lining the walls leading to a basement treasure trove of vases, furniture, miniature 兵马俑 replicas and Mao sculptures – all hidden beneath the surface.
And it’s hard work keeping these surfaces clean.