National Geographic names Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market best in the world
Clockwise from top: The William Davies stall in the market circa 1911, a fruit and flower show in the market circa 1904, the landmark north facade of the St. Lawrence Market served as Toronto’s city hall until 1899
The St. Lawrence Market and environs have been the hub of culinary life in the city for more than 200 years, ever since the city dubbed the area the Market Block and a wooden structure was erected to house the first farmer’s market on King Street back in 1803. Local residents know it and love it, but recently the market was on the receiving end of some international props thanks to National Geographic magazine, which named it the best food market on the planet in their recent book Food Journeys of a Lifetime.
The roots of the city and the St. Lawrence Market are intimately tied. Indeed, the market’s principal south building was designed to house Toronto’s city hall and jail house as well as a market.
Things changed for St. Lawrence Market and the Market Block in 1849, the year the so-called Great Fire destroyed most of the area, including the wooden market building.
There have been numerous alterations and renovations over time to the south market.
In 1899, the city hall moved out to its new digs at Queen and Bay, and since then, the stunning north-facing facade has remained the primary gateway for market exploration.
Here, more than 120 vendors sell all kinds of fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood and baked goods on the lower and first levels. It is also here that locals and tourists flock for the closest thing resembling an official Toronto food: the famed peameal-bacon-on-a-bun sandwich served up at Carousel Bakery. And the masses have been wiping their chins for more than 30 years.
Other well-known vendors include Browns Brothers Meats, a shop that has been in the St. Lawrence Market since 1895, Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard and Olympic Cheese Mart, which dates back to 1958 and offers 600 varieties of cheese.
Despite its successes, things at the market will soon get even better now that plans are in place to renovate the north market building using a palatial glass design.The $60 million project is pegged for completion by 2014.