Public markets are some of the best places to find original souvenirs by local artisans, not to mention enjoy a homespun locavore breakfast, bite into fragrant from-the-orchard fruit and pick up gourmet picnic goodies to-go. Head to Canada’s top gathering spots to meet the locals and get in on the fun.
Fresh veg stars at Winnipeg’s grower-run, community-minded Le Marché St. Norbert Farmers’ Market, now under a new four-season canopy tent. Farm families convene at the breadbasket province’s largest market. Source your picnic, then take home some honey and handmade soap or hand-hewn goods and designer jewelry. Buskers and Métis musicians supply the festive ambiance.
Quirky is plentiful at indoor-outdoor year-round Boyce Farmers’ Market in Fredericton, as are one-of-a-kind gifts (fire-hose satchel, anyone?). Meet locals for breakfast at this traditional community meeting venue offering seasonal favorites like blueberries and fiddleheads, cheese, preserves, seafood, wine and chocolate. Cuisine ranges from Lebanese stuffed grape leaves to buffalo burgers.
The laidback Crossroads Market (Alberta’s biggest) is a family go-to in Calgary that’s part flea market, part food stand meet-up. Think: German wieners, Cambodian delicacies and other treats showcasing the diversity of Canadian food culture. Don’t miss the beef jerky, truffle salt and locally raised protein from this agriculture-rich province.
The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market has been happening since 1750. It’s North America’s longest running: 250 vendors fill a sprawling two-level warehouse space. Join college students chatting with fishmongers, take a workshop or buy artisan at The Shelf. There are also shops, galleries, a harbor-view rooftop patio, even an immigration museum.
Arrive early to find the best vintage shoes and antique trinkets at one-stop La Chute Farmers’ Market on Quebec City’s west side. A no-frills institution since the 50s, this sprawling 15-acre site houses a flea market, indoor antiques emporium, farmers’ market, restaurants, entertainment and horse auction. Equine haggling starts at 2 pm.
Sample Saskatchewan’s famed berries in homemade pies at the member-owned co-op Saskatoon Farmers’ Market, a staple since the 70s. Another must is locally distilled spirits at this down-home marketplace set in an old Saskatoon electrical warehouse-garage. Pick up produce, artisan edibles and crafts, join a chef demo, shopping night or concert, or picnic riverside.
Come hungry to downtown Ottawa’s ByWard Market, the spot for all things trendy. Set in a heritage neighborhood, the city’s avant-garde restaurants are here, not to mention the bustling farmers’ market dating to 1826. Shop, go dancing, taste craft beer, linger over lunch at a patio café and peruse the artful stands.