Saint John City Market named Canada’s Great Public Space

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Exterior of the Saint John City Market

{Photo attribution: Catherine White, Oak Lawn Images }

The Saint John City Market has been chosen as Canada’s Great Public Space for 2013 by the Canadian Institute of Planners. The City Market was one of 68 entries in the contest. Finalists were selected from more than 100,000 public votes cast across the country during a four-month voting period.

“It’s unique architectural character reflects the local landscape and traditions of Saint John as a port city,” stated Ritteman. “It provides year-round economic opportunities and social interaction for people of all ages and abilities, fosters local food security and promotes the use of public and active transportation in its interconnectedness with the rest of the city.” {Contest judge Teresa Ritteman}

While the City Market was chosen the national winner in the category, the McAdam Train Station, also located in New Brunswick, was named as the People’s Choice in the Great Public Spaces category.

The contest is staged annually by the institute to celebrate places Canadians love and to highlight the role of professional planners in creating these places.  Although I no longer live there, I was born in Saint John, New Brunswick and lived there for the first 23 years of my life.  I now live in a neighbouring community, but Saint John will always hold a very special place in my heart!

Saint John is only a 20 minutes drive from where I now live, so I am there often.  One of my favourite places in the uptown area has to be the Saint John City Market. Built in 1876, the Saint John City Market is the oldest continuing farmer’s market in all of Canada.  The market is in the city centre and adjacent to the city’s historic, “King’s Square”.  The building’s exterior architectural design is in keeping with the Victorian era in which it was built, while the interior ceiling of the market resembles an inverted hull of a ship.  The interior design is an intentional acknowledgement of the city’s ship building past.

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Market Interior

{Photo attribution: Catherine White, Oak Lawn Images }

The market is open year round, Monday to Saturday, with Sunday openings during peak sesons and is a gathering place for people of all ages.  It is always filled with the sounds of busy vendors, shoppers, and the uptown lunch crowd.  The aroma of freshly baked goods, fruits, vegetables, coffee, meat, fish and of course, Grand Manan dulse, fill the building.  You will also find a good selection of ethnic food from China, Korea, the Middle East and India.  As well as the food you will also find Maritime crafts, imported items, and items hand-crafted by the City Market’s own resident artists. 

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Market Interior

{Photo attribution: Catherine White, Oak Lawn Images }

“The Market” is also a gathering space for seasonal festivities and special events. One such event is the Mayor’s breakfast which always takes place on the second Friday in December and is a fundraiser for southern New Brunswick food banks.     Even though this event starts at 6AM,  it is always packed to the rafters with people enjoying breakfast, fellowship, entertainment and the Christmas spirit.  This event, which is a personal favourite of mine, and others like it have contributed to The Market’s place as a Saint John treasure.

For 137 years, the City Market has been an remained an important fixture in uptown Saint John.  The importance of this public space extends much beyond the central peninsula of Saint John. The City Market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1986, which demonstrates the value other Canadians have recognized in The Saint John City Market. 

Have you ever visited the Saint John City Market?

What markets near where you live do you link to visit?


  1. Reminds me of Quincy Market up in Boston!

  2. What a great post. Like you, I love the Saint John City Market, and look forward to any and every opportunity to visit and mingle with the people. Am looking forward to the Mayors Breakfast this year as well. Perhaps I will see you there!

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