Montreal’s Ethnic Farmer’s Market
We’ve have always sought out local cooking school restaurants as the best introduction to a city’s cuisine – and people. Montreal has one of the best and friendliest! These days a trip to the local farmers market is another adventurous way. Farmers markets have evolved from tourist attractions, such as the Original Farmers Market in Los Angeles and Pike’s Place in Seattle, to an authentic culinary experience through seasonal ingredients and unique local specialties. It’s also a wonderful way to meet locals with an interest in food for insider tips of where to eat. Montréal’s favourite public markets are no exception.
(photo by Susan Moss)
The Jean-Talon Market is one of the oldest and largest open-air markets in North America. It started out as a lacrosse field in the north part of Montréal. The city bought the land after the economic crash of 1929 in order to build a market and create jobs. The market–then called Marché du Nord–opened in 1933 and was mostly frequented by Greek, Italian, Vietnamese and Irish immigrants who bought live poultry and meat on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Jean-Talon Market is located in the heart of the Little Italy neighbourhood and open year round. It counts 150 local fruit and vegetable vendors at the height of the season, between May and November. In addition to fruits and vegetables, the market counts flower stalls, an SAQ (Quebec Alcohol Society), spice shops, butchers, cheese and fish mongers, a chocolate shop, an ice cream parlor, an Italian specialty store, pastry stores and an array of specialty shops.
The Atwater Market was also established in 1933, in the southwest of the city, just south of the downtown area. This market is famous for its tall clock tower and art deco architectural style, which makes it one of the most beautiful ones in North America. Open year round, it boast an interior space with many butchers and other specialty stores as well as vendors all around the main building selling fresh and seasonal produce, flowers, Christmas trees when in season or other local specialties. The market’s location along the Lachine Canal bike path makes it popular with summer bike riders who stop here for an ice cream cone or a quick lunch. If you do get the chance to have lunch there, stop by the seasonal Satay Brothers stall for one of the best Southeast Asian food in Montréal.
The Maisonneuve Market opened around 1910 in a beautiful Beaux Arts-style building in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood on the east side of Montréal. It was frequented by locals who flocked to the market to purchase produce from farmers, burchers and fishmongers. Much to the clients’ disappointment, the Maisonneuve Market was closed in the 60s, only to reopen in the 80s because of the pressure exercised by local citizens. In 1995, the market moved to its present location–a modern building–where locals continue to flock to shop for local ingredients from their favourite purveyors. Much smaller in size than the Jean Talon or Atwater markets, the Maisonneuve Market offers all the necessity of its larger counterparts including flowers, fruits, vegetables, meats, cheese, fish, baked goods and Quebec-specific products.
There are several other, seasonal neighbourhood markets for you to explore. Click here to find out more about their locations and opening hours.