For more than 200 years, markets in the St Lawrence neighbourhood have reflected the abundance and variety of food grown in the Toronto region. In 1803, Lieutenant Governor Peter Hunter declared the first public market open, welcoming merchants, farmers, and residents of the region to buy and sell their provisions. Many would attend the market from out of town, including Chief Wabakinine of the Mississaugas, who sold salmon. Inns and taverns lined Yonge and King Streets to serve those who made the multi-day trek.
By the time of the Great Fire of 1849, the first market had been replaced by a series of wooden and brick buildings. A portion of the current South Market housed the city council chambers, a jail, and government offices, with shops in the wings of the building.
Shortly after his arrival from England, William Davies, opened a stall in the St. Lawrence Market, selling cured pork products, including peameal bacon. His business expanded east of the market and the William Davies Company became the largest meat packer in Canada, giving Toronto the nickname “Hogtown”.
Threatened with demolition in 1971, citizens successfully petitioned for the preservation of the South Market. However, a matching building on the north side of Front Street was demolished and replaced in 1968.
The 1968 North Market will be rebuilt in the coming years as the market complex continues to offer fresh goods and prepared foods from local suppliers that celebrate our global city.
The first market building was a simple wooden structure located on King Street East. In 1930 it was replaced by a brick building with an attached two-storey structure to the north; there was an open courtyard for the weekly market which was destroyed by fire in 1849. The St Lawrence Hall on King Street was built in its place in 1851.