Since the 1980s, thousands of Somalis have occupied the apartments at Dixon Road and Kipling Avenue. Oddly enough, their arrival in Dixon coincided with Transport Canada’s 1988 decision to allow planes to fly over the Kingsview area: the increased noise from the air traffic prompted residents to leave, which opened up vacancies and reduced property values. The first Somalis moved into the area because it was newly affordable and relatively close to Pearson Airport. After the Somali government collapsed in 1991, thousands of refugees arrived in Toronto looking for Dixon because they had heard about the pre-existing Somali community. At Pearson Airport in the early 1990s, it was common to hear arriving Somali immigrants ask: “Where’s Dixon?”
Today, the block is famous in Somalia—so much so that Somalis prefer to call Toronto “Dixon” (pronounced Diksan or Dihon in Somali). Several streets in Mogadishu have adopted the name, and there’s even a Dixon neighbourhood there—a popular hangout spot for Somali-Canadians and their relatives. Although the apartments at Dixon Road look a little drab, for the millions of Somalis engulfed by violence, “Dixon” remains a symbol of hope.
Sources: From Mogadishu to Dixon by Abdi M. Kusow and Stephanie R. Bjork, Toronto Life, “Dispatch From Dixon,” August, 1995, and the Dixon Archives at Montgomery’s Inn.
Photo by Stephen Michalowicz/Torontoist.