Victoria Park

Friendship at 5 Lynvalley Crescent


For both Lancelot (Lance) Alexander and Jainarine (Jay) Brijpaul, settling in Scarborough’s Victoria Park neighbourhood in the early 1980s was both an end to one life and the start of another. 

Both men left their home country of Guyana in the early 1980s on the heels of regime change, as the country was inching closer and closer to implementing new socialist policies, “…there were lines for almost everything, every major food item, whether it be sugar which is produced in Guyana, whether it was rice which is grown and produced in Guyana, or any other item. Propane, kerosene oil, you name it there were lines for it.”  They had both settled in Toronto after hearing stories from friends and family members who had immigrated to Canada in previous years, returning for a short while to spread the news about opportunities for prosperity and a better life in the great white north.

At the time, Victoria Park was becoming a hub for new Caribbean immigrants, largely due to its cultural influences and ease of access to essential services such as libraries, Caribbean grocery stores, places of worship and public transit. They eventually rented apartments in the same complex at 5 Lynvalley Crescent and 1911 Victoria Park Ave. Jay, living with his sister and brother-in-law in a small one bedroom suite, and Lance with his wife and two small kids.

Along with meeting one another at Lynvalley, they were introduced to a slew of other Guyanese and Caribbean immigrants who had recently settled in the community. While living at 5 Lynvalley and 1911 Victoria Park, they would meet regularly to chat about life and the struggles they were facing as new immigrants, “…friendship was very important at the beginning at Lynvalley because it helped us to sustain, to bond, to understand things that we’re not accustomed to, to seek advice”. The friendship both men had formed while living in Victoria Park provided a sense of communal reliance and support at a time when it was easy to feel isolated and surrounded by a medley of unfamiliar people, places and systems.

Jainarine Brijpaul: Friendship helped sustain us

Lancelot Alexander: The guy was a hustler