Exploring Suburbia

When my family settled in Canada, we first lived near Toronto’s Chinatown on Spadina Avenue. It made sense as my aunt, uncle and cousins lived just down the street from us, so we had a bit of a social network to support our first few years in a new country.

Eventually, we moved out to Scarborough, Toronto’s eastern suburb, where I spent my formative years. There wasn’t much going on in Scarborough in those days, so I made the hour-long trek downtown almost every Saturday with friends, checking out record shops, book stores and the like. I guess I knew at an early age, if you didn’t have a car in the suburbs, your social life was limited.

So it wasn’t a surprise that I’ve spent most of my adult life living downtown, even though my family chose to remain in the suburbs. As a downtowner, I, too, would regard the suburbs as places to mostly avoid.

Fast forward to the present and my partner and I have settled onto a quiet street not too far from my childhood home. You still can’t do much without a car in Scarborough, but this little borough sure has changed. There are now dozens of vibrant neighbourhoods, scattered throughout with shops, businesses and restaurants that reflect the diversity that is Toronto these days. Our neighbourhood now is almost the same as it was when I was a kid, but with newer storefronts and as of last summer – a STARBUCKS!

For the past few weeks, I’ve made exploring local neighbourhoods into a project – documenting the streets through photography. It’s a bit harder to get candid shots of people when neighbourhoods aren’t as busy. But it was a challenge that I accepted, stretching my own creative boundaries to make interesting images.

This series doesn’t wholly represent Scarborough – I wanted to highlight some of the more “uninteresting” places to see what I could find. I had fun focusing on the suburbs as a theme. I hope you enjoy these images. You can also view the entire series on LensCulture.