Today, Toronto is full of supermarkets and grocery stores, but at the beginning of the 20th century, locals did their shopping at the markets. One of the first and largest markets in the city, which remained active till nowadays, is St. Lawrence Market. It is a large food court, where you can find a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and other products. High-quality products and a wide assortment are among its main advantages. Probably, that’s why the market was recognized as the world’s best food trading facility in 2012. Learn more at toronto-future.
A quick overview of St. Lawrence Market. What does it offer?
Toronto’s largest market was built in 1902 at the intersection of Front and Jarvis Streets. The building is divided into 3 specialized parts with fresh products at the top and chains of restaurants, bakeries, and delicatessens beneath. Also, it is a 2-story building. The first floor with wide windows is the food zone and the lower floor is partially underground with access to the street. In addition, there are a mezzanine, chairs and tables around the market, where visitors can have a snack.
The 1st and 2nd floors are occupied by sellers, who have their own lots and several aisles. Since the beginning of the 20th century, visitors can buy fast food, drinks and products here too. In addition, there is a gallery and cooking school on the second floor of this huge market. They were first opened in 1979 and since then, they have hosted various exhibitions devoted to Toronto’s art and history, as well as educational courses for culinary enthusiasts.
The history of the St. Lawrence Market foundation
The first mention of this building dates back to 1845 when it served as a city hall and a prison designed by an English emigrant architect in Toronto Henry Bowyer Lane. He decided to use brick and stone as the main elements of the design and place a clock dome on the upper floor. Initially, it was a two-storey building with offices and retail premises on the first floor and the council chambers as well as the city police in the main part of the building and the prison in the basement.
The city hall was located there until 1899. You can still see the outlines of its yellow bricks on the facade of this building. In 1851, it was renovated and added with new shops as well as stone window arches and featured more comfortable conditions for trade activity. After that, it was reconstructed again by architect Henry Langley, who also designed many churches and public buildings in Toronto.
In 1899, the plan of the building was changed again, as city hall moved to a much larger and more comfortable place, the Old City Hall in downtown Toronto. After that, the building was turned into a large market. The architect of that new project was John William, who decided to demolish the dome, pediment and side wings of the building. He also installed a steel roof, which in duet with the wide windows, made the interior more spacious and lighter. Two large markets were placed in that huge building connected by a glass canopy over Front Street.
In 1974, the market board continued to expand the surroundings adding two basements for retail, another floor and an elevator for lifting goods and convenient market navigation. A local modern art gallery was opened there too to make the premises more diverse and interesting for visitors.