2015 Volume 88 Issue 1 Pages 1-22
This study attempts to propose an alternative framework for examining the transformation process of traditional ethnic neighborhoods and understanding the changing spatial structure of ethnic communities in multiethnic cities in contemporary North America. Since the beginning of immigration, the Portuguese have been residing in Toronto for more than half a century. This community now faces a generational change. Toronto’s Portuguese community is examined by focusing on the ethnic functions that comprise its residences, businesses, and organizations in order to dismantle the complicated spatial structure of today’s ethnic community. From the 1970s through the early 1980s, such ethnic functions were concentrated in Little Portugal, located near downtown Toronto. During the 1980s, however, Portuguese residential space began to spread from Little Portugal to Toronto’s northern corridor and western suburbs. After the mid-1990s, Portuguese organizations relocated to the northern corridor. Moreover, the number of Portuguese businesses has decreased since the beginning of the 2000s, consequent to the aging of first-generation Portuguese and the inflow of non-Portuguese people, or gentrifiers. In other words, ethnic functions relocated from Little Portugal in multiple stages. However, Portuguese entrepreneurs still manage approximately half of the businesses in Little Portugal, and this traditional ethnic neighborhood remains the core area of the Portuguese community. Today, the Portuguese in Toronto utilize plural spaces depending on the content of their activities. Although the Portuguese community is spatially dispersed, its social ties are maintained on the basis of ethnicity, and these three spaces are thus closely connected with each other.