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hkskyline

Toronto's Other Chinatown - Markham & Richmond Hil

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According to the 2001 census, there are 348,010 people in Toronto whose mother tongue is Chinese. Of that total, 145,490 speak Cantonese while 35,315 speak Mandarin.

Markham is a suburb north of Toronto. It became a very popular settlement for Hong Kong immigrants in the 1990s, and the legacy remains today. Out of a total population of 207,940, over half are visible minorities and 62,355 are Chinese. In neighboring Richmond Hill, 28,760 of the town's population of 131,600 is Chinese. The main hub has traditionally been along Highway 7 stretching from the western edge of town to the east, although in recent years the spread has increased and scattered more.

This is one of the original Chinese-oriented plazas that emerged as Hong Kong immigrants settled in this bedroom community. Detached houses dominate the area, although more condominiums have been built along Highway 7 in recent years.

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New condominiums

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This plaza used to have a Western grocery store, but it closed years ago and replaced by a Chinese grocery store.

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Another plaza down the street :

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Yet another one in the area :

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Times Square is another major commercial development spearheaded by Hong Kong immigrants. It highlighted the growing power of the Chinese population in Markham in the 1990s. In fact, a recent marketing survey on brand recognition highlighted the Chinese community's association with BMWs.

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Fairchild Television is the Canadian affiliate of Hong Kong's TVB media empire. First started as a Cantonese-only operation for the Hong Kong community, it now has since opened a Mandarin channel to cater to the increased number of immigrants from the mainland. They are headquartered in Vancouver, but they have radio and television studios in Toronto.

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A soya milk manufacturer in Markham :

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These photos only show the western part of this emerging Chinatown. There are even more significant developments further east, including enclosed shopping malls of several hundred stores. Photos will follow in a subsequent thread.

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Great pics, thanks for sending them here.

You know, Richmond Hill/Markham has to be one of the only SUBURBAN Chinatowns I know of. Its so unique to see Toronto with both an urban and suburban set of neighborhoods. :)

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Great pics, thanks for sending them here.

You know, Richmond Hill/Markham has to be one of the only SUBURBAN Chinatowns I know of. Its so unique to see Toronto with both an urban and suburban set of neighborhoods. :)

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There's also Monterey Park, near LA.

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I think you need to ask what defines a neighbourhood like 'chinatown' or 'little italy'. While Markham and Richmond Hill do have a large chinese and asian population, I honestly never equated that with another Toronto 'chinatown'. To me an area that has a cultural neighbourhood identity like that is, well, a neighbourhood. Markham and Richmond Hill to me seem more like a lot of commercial developments and residential areas, but they lack the interconnectedness that the term 'chinatown' or a cultural neighbourhood like it brings to mind.

You are right though that there are a lot of stores that clearly cater to chinese clientele. One of my favourites is First Markham Place at Hwy. 7 and Woodbine. Amongst all the standard outlets like Staples, Home Depot, Home Outfitters, etc. there is a medium-sized mall with mostly very small and small sized stores (probably about 80 or 100 of them) all catering to the chinese population. I particularly enjoy the food court, and there are a number of different kind of stores. I think the only kind of store I can't recall seeing is a clothing one, though it's not what I look for so I may have missed it if there are some there.

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