“What would immigrants in Toronto do without Honest Ed’s, the block-wide carnival that’s also a store, the brilliant kaaba to which people flock even from the suburbs. A centre of attraction whose energy never ebbs, simply transmutes, at night its thousands of dazzling lights splash the sidewalk in flashes of yellow and green and red, and the air sizzles with catchy flourescent messages circled by running lights. The dazzle and sparkle that’s seen as far away as Asia and Africa in the bosoms of bourgeois homes where they dream of foreign goods and emigration. The Lalanis and other Dar immigrants would go there on Saturdays, entire families getting off at the Bathurst station to join the droves crossing Bloor Street West on their way to that shopping paradise.
The festival already begins on the sidewalk outside: vendors of candy, nuts, and popcorn; shop windows bright and packed; shoppers emerging, hugging new possessions; and bright signs with all the familiarity of hookers clamouring for attention.
‘Come in, don’t just stand there!’ shouts a sign wickedly. ‘Come in and get lost!’ winks another. And in you go, dissolve into the human tide flooding the aisles and annexes . . . in this place so joyous and crazy where people give free unasked advice, and just as freely demand it.”
– M.G. Vassanji, No New Land, 1997, Toronto, McClelland & Stewart