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Postcards from the Saint John City Market

Saint John City Market |

The Saint John City Market looks especially festive at Christmastime.

I try to get home to New Brunswick once or twice a year to visit my dad, best friend and family friends. I’ve been away for ten years now and one thing I always look forward to checking out on a trip home is the Saint John City Market. I plot out in advance what I’m going to eat and I set aside a little money for a piece of art or jewellery. It’s one of my favourite things in Saint John.

The Saint John City Market is located in uptown Saint John, New Brunswick (while other cities go downtown, Saint Johners go uptown) and is the oldest continuous farmer’s market in Canada, going as far back at 1785. The building that stands now opened for business in 1876 and has a distinctive design that I love. If you’re in the market, look up. You’ll notice that the roof is shaped like a boat’s keel flipped upside down. This makes sense since Saint John was a massive shipbuilding center when the market was built and for a long time after.

The City Market is a tourist destination sure, but it’s most definitely a local institution. For many uptown office workers it’s the best place to buy produce and protein, not to mention a staple for the weekday power lunch. My dad is on a first name basis with the guy who runs the seafood stall and I remember how, when I was a kid, Mom would come home with fresh ground beef from the market wrapped in butcher’s paper and tied with string. You don’t get that at the supermarket.

The Saint John City  Market is local to its core. It’s home to artists, jewellery makers, craftspeople, bakers, butchers, cooks, and more. You won’t find a national chain here. Even the heavy wrought iron gates that swing shut at the end of every business day were made by a local craftsman.

Though it’s New Brunswick roots are unquestionably strong, the market has become a real international mix in recent years. Pete’s Frootique has a large selection of British imports like cans of mushy peas and spotted dick. You can get Korean bibimbap from Kim’s, Italian pasta from Sisters, Middle Eastern shawarma from Shawarma Hut, or the best Guatemalan chimichangas from Taco Pica. The market is where I introduced my dad to samosas and discovered dulse for myself.

No matter how many times I visit, the Saint John City Market never gets old.

Saint John City Market |

The import section at Pete’s Frootique is colourful and packed with things like jars of Vegemite, packages of biscuits and bottles of Lucozade.

Saint John City Market |

While time marches on, somethings remain, like the hand-lettered signs at Dean’s Meats.

Saint John City Market |

I just love the retro look of these signs. I’m glad the meat is all wrapped up now, unlike how things used to be back in the 80s.

Saint John City Market |

Early in the morning, with an empty stomach, the mix of smells from the fishmonger, butcher and baker can make me a little queasy. Nothing a cup of joe from my favourite New Brunswick roaster can’t fix. I dies for a bit of Java Moose. Can someone tell me how this name didn’t get snapped up by a Newfoundland company first?

Saint John City Market |

Two classic New Brunswick treats: barley toys (hard sugar candy) and dulse (dried seaweed)…not to be eaten together.

Saint John City Market |

Another classic New Brunswick candy: Ganong chicken bones (cinnamon candy filled with bittersweet chocolate).

Saint John City Market |

Few things scream Atlantic Canada to me more than fresh seafood, like these mussels.

Saint John City Market |

I love the vintage looking neon of some signs on the market stalls.

Saint John City Market |

There are not one, but two tea shops located in the market.

Saint John City Market |

To this day, the Market Bell is rung to signal the opening and closing of the market. While the market may be changing, some traditions are worth hanging on to.

Saint John City Market |

Leave the gun, take the cannoli.

Saint John City Market |

Musicians play at the head of the market, adding to the vibrant atmosphere.

Saint Johns City Market |

Need grapes, cheese, bread, and a bottle of wine for a French inspired picnic? The market has you covered.

Would you visit the City Market on a trip to Saint John?


  1. Pauline says:

    February 25th, 2014 at 12:05 pm (#)

    I visited the Market on our brief stop at Saint John last summer! I LOVED it! Java Moose is amazing and I truly wish we have one here in Toronto.

  2. Melissa Hogan says:

    February 25th, 2014 at 12:11 pm (#)

    I especially love all the flavoured coffees they do. I usually come home with a bag or two.

  3. Demetra says:

    March 1st, 2014 at 10:38 am (#)

    Such beautiful pictures. I love how all the colors pop right off my computer. Everything looks so fresh and vibrant.

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