THE TASTES & SOUNDS OF THE MEDITERRANEAN
- The annual Krinos Taste of the Danforth is the celebration of all things Greek
- It is Canada's largest street festival, welcoming approximately 1.65 million attendees annually.
Te Greek influence in Toronto is hard to miss. Just visit Danforth Avenue east of Broadview Avenue and enjoy the many cafes, restaurants, ice cream parlours, shish kebab houses, fruit stores and shops of "Greek Town". Tere's the familiar blue and white from the Greek flag everywhere you look. Try and read the Greek names on signs, such as Omonia, Acropolis, Kalyvia, Alexandros, Parthenon. You may stop to sample some Greek food, perhaps souvlaki, gyros and tzatziki. At a cafe, enjoy strong coffee, or at a tavern, while listening to bouzouki music, a glass of Ouzo.
Te largest number of Greek immigrants arrived in Toronto following the Greek military junta of 1967-74. Te new Canadians typically were entrepreneurs who opened various businesses along Toronto's Danforth Avenue, where in the 1960s, the Greek community ofcially sprang to life.
As a tribute to the number of Hellenic citizens who lived and worked in the area, the Business Improvement Area voted to change the name to GreekTown on the Danforth in 1993. Today, GreekTown on the Danforth is the largest Hellenic business community in North America and indeed is the third largest in the world after Greece and Melbourne, Australia. It has earned notoriety in various ways. Te Danforth is mentioned in a Barenaked Ladies song, "Te Old Apartment", and several scenes in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding were shot in the area.
Although many settled in the Danforth East area, this is not the only Greek community in Toronto. According to the Canadian census, there are actually 10 neighbourhoods in Toronto where Greek is the mother tongue, including several areas in and around East York and Scarborough.
As you travel around Toronto, you'll see many Greek influences in sights, sounds, and entertainment. For example, various buildings are designed in Greek revival architecture, with columns or pilasters, symmetry and usually white in colour. Te Toronto Post Ofce is one of the best examples, although you'll also notice the design components on many banks, public institutions as well as residential homes.
Torontonians also love what we now import from Greece, much of which we use in our cooking! Canadian merchandise imports from Greece include preserved food products, fats and oils (mainly olive oil!).
Tere are many well known Greek celebrities that were raised in Toronto, or now call Toronto home. For example, former NHL hockey player, Nick Kypreos, returned to the city after his playing career ended and for many years has been a well respected hockey analyst on radio and television. Another Toronto sports fgure, Donna Vakalis, was a member of the 2012 Canadians Olympic team, competing in the modern pentathlon.
Teresa Stratas grew up in Toronto and began singing in nightclubs and in her father's restaurant when she was 12. She became one of the fnest opera singers of the past century, performing in all the great opera houses around the world including the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York City. Teresa was awarded the Order of Canada for her contribution to Canadian arts, and has a star on Canada's Walk of Fame.
Other entertainers include Canadian television personality George Stroumboulopoulos. And for us foodies, we all love Toronto Chef and TV host, Christine Cushing, who still loves to cook her father's Greek Baked Beans recipe.
For over 50 years, the Greek Community of Toronto has been honoured to organize the annual Greek Independence Day Parade in March, and the "OXI" Day Parade in October.