Nesker & Co. Produce
193 BALDWIN STREET
Nesker & Co Produce, opened in the 1920s and was owned by the Nesker family, including Yukel Nisker, (aka Joe Nesker); Yukel’s wife, Bella; and their son, Harry. Yukel, like many new immigrants, travelled ahead of his family, arriving to Canada in 1914. It wasn’t until 1920 that Yukel had saved enough money to bring his wife and the rest of his family to Canada.
Once the Nesker family was united and operating the family business, they provided the community with a popular staple: poultry. The store was at the centre of a rapidly growing Jewish community that was beginning to establish its roots in Kensington Market. With the growing community came a growing need for businesses that could provide food that complied with Jewish dietary restrictions (kosher food).
For meat to be deemed kosher, the animal needs to be killed in a prescribed manner. Some businesses, like Nesker’s, sold pre-processed poultry, but Kensington would also become well-known for the many live chickens in cages that lined the streets of the Market. After a shopper purchased one of these chickens, they would take it to a nearby shochet, a trained butcher qualified to slaughter cattle and poultry in the prescribed manner.
Nesker & Co Produce, like many surrounding businesses at the time, found ways to serve the specific needs of the Jewish community. For many people, Kensington Market remains synonymous with chickens to this day.