Summer is officially here and now is the time to take advantage of the wonderful bounty our farmers grow, from coast to coast. Canada is blessed with an abundance of fresh seasonal produce, award-winning local wine and locally raised meats; all available at one of the many farmers markets. From the largest year-round market to the historic market of Halifax, to the market that specializes in potatoes; we have rounded up the 10 freshest farmers markets in Canada. From coast to coast, there is great food to be found at all of these awesome markets.
10. St. Lawrence Market -Toronto, Ontario
Although this market is open almost every day of the week, we highly suggest visiting on a Saturday. Saturdays are when both the North and South Market open to the public, as opposed to every other day when just the South Market is open. The North Market stands in a space that has been used as a marketplace since 1803, making this the second most historic market on the list. Ontario produce, eggs, poultry, honey, olives and fresh baked bread are amongst the favorites here. The market starts early; 5 am on Saturdays and by 9 am is packed full so make sure you come early if you want to avoid the crowds. Expect to find exotic cultural food, peameal bacon sandwiches, homemade pasta noodles, camel meat and everything else in between. Make sure to carve out a few hours to walk around this gigantic market and you will soon understand why it’s hailed as being one of the best in the world.
9. Charlottetown Farmers’ Market -Charlottetown, P.E.I
It wouldn’t take a genius to figure out that potatoes are the main star of this market, but that’s not all you will find here at this overly friendly farmers market. Fresh produce, organic cheeses, handmade chocolates, fresh coffee and baked goods are just a slice of what you will find here. Besides all these amazing products, what really make this market so special are the people you will meet here. From vendors who give you the perfect advice on how to boil the perfect potato to meeting entire families who take part in the growing and harvesting; it is truly the people who make a difference here. Come hungry to this market as there is no shortage of hot and cold food to buy and enjoy in the seated dining area, where you will enjoy Celtic music and a sense of community that you can only find on the island.
8. Jean-Talon -Montreal, Quebec
The flavors and sites here have been attracting visitors since 1933 and Jean-Talon Market remains one of the favorites across the country. Open all year round, Saturdays are the liveliest and perhaps the best time to visit as this day houses the most vendors. This is also the day where you will find the most fresh, seasonal produce in the province. Summer is the favorite time to visit, with brightly colored produce and terrific wine. Visitors will find gourmet meats, cheese, the famous maple syrup, pastries, spices and so much more. Eating your way through this market is highly recommended, from maple glazed salmon bites to slow braised meat tacos to artisanal ice-cream. Hailed as the largest open air market in North America, don’t be surprised to find yourself standing beside famous Montreal chefs, food bloggers and amateur foodies.
7. St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market -Waterloo, Ontario
Located just an hour outside of Toronto, visitors here will feel as though they have stepped back in time. The nearby countryside is home to an abundance of Mennonite farmers, many of whom can be seen traveling in their horse and buggy. These farmers are who you will find selling products at Canada’s largest year-round market. A fire nearly destroyed this wonderful market a few years back but the market is back up and running in full swing. Expect to shop both indoors and out when you visit in the warmer months, as over 300 vendors congregate here. Many shoppers come here specifically for the fresh produce and hormone-free meats, although you can find just about anything you have ever wanted. Expect entertainment, music, buskers and more when you take a visit to the St. Jacobs Market in Waterloo.
6. Crossroads Market -Calgary, Alberta
It is Calgary’s largest year-round market and provides a bustling atmosphere with an abundance of vendors and products. It also happens to be just five minutes from downtown with plenty of ample parking. The marker is only open on the weekends so make sure you plan around visiting then. With over 150 vendors here, it is considered part flea market and part food market. The abundance of fresh local products is what really makes this market a winner. Visit in the summer and fall to experience Alberta’s local produce or head over to the cheese shop where over 300 varieties of cheese are sold. The market is a great place to grab some local meat, fresh squeezed juice and a loaf of freshly baked bread.
5. Marche du Vieux-Port -Quebec City, Quebec
This year round market entices visitors with its fresh products, locally sourced items and friendly atmosphere. Arguably the best time to visit here is in the summer when the strawberries are at their finest. Locals and visitors also love this market for the specialties you can’t get anywhere else; such as the ciders, maple syrup, pates and preserves. The cranberry wine also happens to be a huge hit with visitors. The market is located on the waterfront and during the summer there is often live music or other entertainment located just outside the building. Even if you just come for the experience, we promise you won’t be leaving this market empty handed. Insider’s tip: head to the spice store at the very end of the building and get lost for hours discovering the worldly spices that you have never even seen before.
4. Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market -Toronto, Ontario
In one of the most picturesque settings in Toronto also lies one of the best farmers markets in the country. What was once a former quarry has been transformed into a park and every Saturday morning from May until November between 65 and 85 vendors show up to sell their products. Expect to see fresh produce, organic baked goods, free-range meats, teas, leather products and everything else in between. Some favorites include fresh-made meals from Canadian chef Doug McNish and the abundance of organic options. We recommend you come hungry to this market as the plethora of breakfast and lunch options is unbelievable. From handmade Belgian waffles to organic French fries, we promise you won’t leave here feeling hungry. Take a stroll through the magnificent park afterwards to work off those waffles.
3. Marché St. Norbert Farmers’ Market -Winnipeg, Manitoba
From May until November, rain or shine you can find Manitoba’s farmers selling the bounty of their fields to visitors at Manitoba’s largest and best-known market. This market originally started back in 1988 with just eight vendors that gathered on the grass to sell their products and support other local producers. The market has grown enormously since then and features about 150 vendors, intent on keeping its local roots. Visitors here can expect to find an abundance of fresh local produce, freshly baked breads, home-style jams and preserves, freshly cut flowers and more. One of the more interesting things to note about this market is their online presence, which was created to help farmers sell their products over the winter. Customers can go online and order their products directly from the producers, who then prepare the order and meet in a designated spot for delivery. This market is big on sticking with their local roots and this is just one awesome way of keeping everyone connected.
2. Halifax Farmers’ Market -Halifax, Nova Scotia
This market has a long history, dating back to 1750 and in 2010 finally relocated to its current location on the south end of the Halifax Waterfront. The new space provides plenty of room for people and the natural light makes this a gorgeous spot to spend the morning. Unbeatable ocean views coupled with a hip vibrant atmosphere are just the beginning of what makes this market so spectacular. You can make your way here year-round and although the market is now open seven days a week, we highly suggest visiting on a Saturday when all of the vendors are present. Some of the favorites at this market are the artisanal crafts, seasonal produce, local wine and of course the freshest seafood found anywhere in the province. This market also runs a really neat program called Lunch and Learn, which features presentations on sustainability, wellness, food demonstrations and workshops.
1. Trout Lake Farmers’ Market -Vancouver, British Columbia
This market is loved by many and has quite the history to go along with it. The market actually started with 14 farmers who squatted at the Croatian Cultural Centre back in 1995. Today the market has moved to John Hendry Park and is one of the most beloved markets in all of the country. Visitors come from all over the world to pick up the freshest cherries and blueberries, stock up on free-range eggs and organic meats and get the freshest vegetables found anywhere in the city. The market is open on Saturdays from May to October and people are encouraged to use public transit, walk or bike here. Think fresh baked bread, artisan crafts, fresh cut flowers and a community like atmosphere. Make sure you come to this market hungry and grab some lunch from one of the terrific food trucks, the favorite being the crepe stall.