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Argyle embraces “Little India” vibe

Nighttime photo of a parking lot and Indian restaurant
Image Credit: Stephin Sathya

The Argyle neighbourhood is becoming home to a growing number of international South Asian students, most of which are from the country of India.

Geographically, Argyle makes up the eastern-most area of London, spanning from Highbury Ave. to the Veterans Memorial Parkway, bordered by Oxford St. to the north, and Trafalgar St. to the south. The industrial area was once thought of as a rough and tumble area of the city, but has been steadily growing into a bustling cultural hub, proudly dawning the new title of London’s own Little India.

“I think people like having an identity,” Leah Thomas, Communication and Creative Director for Argyle Business Improvement Association (BIA) said. “People just kind of inherently sort of glom on to that. People also have noticed kind of independently, that we’re seeing a lot more Indian restaurants, businesses, and people in the east end and I think the nickname ‘Little India’ just kind of put into words what people already have noticed is happening.”

Founded in 2011, Argyle BIA provides support for the businesses within its boundaries. With over 200 members, Argyle BIA provides a one-stop shop for those living and working in the city’s east end, providing a sense of community for businesses and consumers alike. Now, a thriving ecosystem of Indian restaurants and shops have become a staple addition to the community, giving the commercial corridor along Dundas St. a new sense of purpose embraced by the neighbourhood.

“People who live in this area tend to be very proud of where they’re from…a lot of our businesses tend to have very loyal customer base; they feel very proud to support mom-and-pop businesses that are Argyle-based,” Thomas added. “People just are like, ‘we live here, it’s a nice place and we like the people that are around, and we want to support them.’”

“…I think the nickname ‘Little India’ just kind of put into words what people already have noticed is happening.”

According to Thomas, there is a vision emerging for this already rich neighbourhood filled with parks, community centres, libraries, and a lot of history.

“Argyle is a very one-stop shop, it’s kind of got everything you need if you want to go out and you want to have a nice dinner, you can go out to one of the Indian restaurants, but then afterwards, you may want to pick up some groceries, you can kind of do everything that you need to do in that area.”

Thomas’s forecast for the area is that it has all the ingredients to become something really special for London with some exciting projects and initiatives for the area in the near future.

“We have an Argyle specific currency coming out in the form of a pre-paid Visa card that will only be usable at Argyle businesses. That’s going to be coming out mid to late March,” said Thomas.

It looks like the once industrial area is evolving into a rich, exciting, and welcome addition to the city of London’s landscape.