The St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood, best-known for the world-famous food market located in its midst, is one of Toronto’s most historic areas. Located in the heart of downtown — bordered by Yonge Street and steps from the financial district on Bay Street — the area combines its history with convenience, artistic flair and upscale living.
The neighbourhood was also home to the first parliament of Upper Canada, built in 1793 at the corner of Parliament and Front Streets. The site was actually lost until it was accidentally excavated during construction on the site in 2000.
Toronto’s first city hall was built on the south-west corner of King and Jarvis Streets in 1834 — when the city of Toronto officially came into being — and functioned as the civic heart of the city until 1844. The original building burnt down in 1849 and was replaced with what is today the St. Lawrence Hall — a national historic site, the building hosted speeches by John A. Macdonald and George Brown, was the home of the National Ballet of Canada and continues to host weddings and conferences — and the north building of the St. Lawrence Market, which hosts farmers’ markets on Saturdays.
A market has operated at King St. and Jarvis St. since the area was designated the “Market Block” by Governor Hunter in 1803. The first permanent farmers’ market building was built on the south side of King Street at Jarvis Street shortly after. It was enclosed in 1820 and replaced by a brick structure in 1831. This new building extended from King to Front and housed an assembly hall on the upper level. City Council met in this assembly hall from 1834 to 1845. It was destroyed by fire in 1849 along with much of the city (but not the City Hall.)
A new building was built in 1851 abutting the new St. Lawrence Hall on King Street but with its main entrance facing Front Street. This building lasted until 1904, when it was demolished by order of the Market Commission and replaced by a building designed to match the recently completed South building. A canopy ran over Front Street connecting the north and south markets until it ws removed in 1954.
The latest incarnation of the north market was built in 1968. Today the North Market is different things on different days, but its principal claims to glory are associated with the colourful Farmers’ Market, the largest in Toronto, that takes place on Saturdays starting at 5 am and is truly a local institution for Torontonians; the Sunday Antique Market, open every Sunday from 5 am to 5 pm; and the Christmas trees and holiday greens offered daily from mid-November to December 24th.