Located in north Scarborough, the Agincourt neighbourhood is situated on the traditional lands of the Anishinabek Nation, Huron-Wendat First Nation, and Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The neighbourhood was established as a farming village in the late 19th century by primarily English and Scottish settlers. The area remained rural until the early 1950s, when Agincourt began to undergo suburbanization to meet the demands of the postwar baby boom. In the 1970s, after changes to Canada’s previously exclusionary immigration laws, more ethnically diverse populations started to settle in the neighbourhood. The neighbourhood saw a significant influx of migrants from Hong Kong leading up to the region’s return from Britain to China in 1997. The opening of Dragon Centre mall on Glen Watford Dr in 1984 solidified Agincourt as the home of one of Toronto’s first suburban Chinatowns. North America’s first Chinese-themed mall, Dragon Centre, was met with complaints from residents over traffic congestion. Anti-Chinese immigration flyers were sent out, forcing the mayor to respond with a Task Force on Multicultural and Race Relations in Scarborough. Today, Agincourt continues to attract newcomers. While over half of the area’s residents identify as first-generation Canadians, culturally significant neighbourhood institutions like Dragon Centre are being slated for redevelopment.
Bonis, R. R. (1968). History of Scarborough / edited by Robert R. Bonis. Scarborough, Ontario: Scarborough Public Library.
Chan, A. (2012, May 31). From Chinatown to ethnoburb : the Chinese in Toronto. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.14288/1.0103074
City of Toronto, Strategic Initiatives, Policy and Analysis Section. (2018). Ward 22 Profile – 2016 Census. Retreived from https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/96ba-City_Planning_2016_Census_Profile_2018_25Wards_Ward22.pdf.
Liu, K. (2019, Aug 21). Dragon Centre was a catalyst for Scarborough’s Chinese community, but the history is not all rosy. The Toronto Star. Retreived from https://www.thestar.com/life/2019/08/21/scarboroughs-dragon-centre-was-torontos-third-chinatown.html
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Meet our storytellers
Andrew Cheung was born in February 1986 at Toronto General Hospital. He is the son of Hong Kong migrants, who first settled in the Dundas and Spadina Chinatown area of Toronto in the early 1980s. Andrew spent the majority of his childhood in the Scarborough-Agincourt area, and was immersed in gang culture as a teenager in high school. His experience of leaving the gang scene has allowed him to develop a passion for working with youth. Andrew is currently a Youth Pastor in Agincourt where he mentors and coaches high school youth. He keeps up with the latest trends in fashion, hip hop, and sneakers.
Aubrey was born in the early 1990s to Jamaican parents, who immigrated to Toronto in the 1970s. His diverse experiences in Agincourt, including competing as a high-level gymnast and attending French immersion school, shaped his outlook on life. Now, he is committed to equipping himself and future generations with what he refers to as “tools for prosperity.” This involves reclaiming black history and questioning problematic social norms, ultimately working towards a society that is accountable, healthy, and inclusive. Currently, Aubrey works as a musician; writing, producing, and performing with a number of local artists.
Claudia Aguilar was born in Michoacan, Mexico in 1975. She is the second oldest sibling of two sisters and four brothers. With support from her father, Claudia was able to study Business Administration and went on to work in Human Resources for numerous hotels in Mexico. When children started going missing in their neighbourhood, Claudia decided to leave Mexico in 2018. Looking to improve her English, she was recommended by a neighbour to join the Dorset Park Community Hub’s Women’s English Circle. Claudia hopes to one day give back to the city she now calls home.
Jen D. Fabico was born in Manila, Philippines, where her parents, Felicidad and Romeo, met while working in the textile industry. Leaving behind their family-owned pet shop, Jen moved to Toronto with her parents in 1989 and lived in several homes on the border of Agincourt and Markham, in the Kennedy and Steeles area. Jen has a BFA in Visual Arts at York University and a degree in education at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Currently, she is Community Development Manager for Agincourt Community Services Association (ACSA) and the Founder and Executive Director of Next Generation Arts.
Ken Sy was born in Hong Kong. After turning down the opportunity to pursue a dentistry degree in the Philippines, he came to Canada in 1968 and attended school in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He then completed a business degree at Queen’s University. In 1980 Ken moved to Agincourt, where he lived until 1999. After quitting his job in stock transfers, he operated multiple businesses, including an international scrap metal export company. A natural businessman and go-getter, Ken recently came out of retirement to open a fish importing company in Scarborough.
Michelle Colthrust was born in Scarborough in 1982 to Trinidadian immigrant parents. When Michelle was in middle school, her family moved to Alton Towers, near McCowan Rd and Steeles Ave, which she still calls home today. It was here that she navigated becoming a young mother and losing her partner to gun violence. Michelle enrolled in Seneca’s Social Service Worker program and, through a placement with bereavement and palliative care program, she was able to support her clients with their grief, as well as process her own. Michelle currently runs her own workshop series called “Made BeYOUtiful”.
Sonny Robert Buchan was born in 1997 at Centenary Hospital in Scarborough to Marita Motus Buchan and Robert Buchan. As a child, Sonny had traditionally feminine interests in toys and movies, which were met with curious support from their parents. While growing up in Agincourt taught Sonny to be respectful and accepting of other cultures from a young age, their ability to express their gender expression was not met with the same acceptance. Sonny is currently pursuing an English degree at the University of Toronto Scarborough and intends to move from Agincourt within the next year.
Suganthine Sivakumar was born in October 1974 in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. She came to Canada in the early 2000s, and her first Canadian home was located in Dorset Park, Scarborough. Suganthine’s first-hand experience of the challenges of newcomer settlement inspired her to work with friends to create the Women’s English Circle at the ACSA Dorset Community Hub. The Women’s English Circle is a meeting place where newcomer women can build friendships, and gain confidence in speaking in English. Suganthine now works as the Reach Out Project For Engagement Facilitator at the Hub, continuing her passion for creating educational programs for migrant women.
Teresa Hall was born in the English Midlands to Babs and Adam Garson. Shortly after her birth, her family left England by ship, and arrived at Halifax’s Pier 21 in the 1950s. Her family first lived in a small flat in Toronto’s first Chinatown, near Spadina and Dundas. The family moved to Agincourt to build a custom home, where they then lived from 1954-1958, before moving to Curran Hall. In her early thirties, Teresa moved back to Toronto and worked as an Executive Receptionist for the consulting firm, KPMG. She is a published poet and an active member of the Scarborough Poetry Club, which meets regularly at Agincourt Library.
Wendy and Wenzie Ng are identical twins born in 1977 in Hong Kong. Under the Family Reunification Act, their family migrated to Canada in 1980. They first settled in the East Chinatown area. Two years later, they moved to Agincourt. Growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, they experienced first hand the rapidly growing cultural and ethnic diversity of neighbours, classmates, businesses, and activities in Agincourt. Wendy currently works as an education and programming leader in the informal education and cultural sector. Wenzie works as a pharmacist in a large teaching hospital that specializes in oncology.