A cornerstone of downtown Toronto since its inception, the St. Lawrence Market has played a pivotal role in Toronto’s history every step of the way. At various times the site has served as a prison, Toronto’s City Hall, and a bustling marketplace. Today the market provides Torontonians and visiting tourists with a truly unique shopping experience.
Inside the South Market building, 120 specialty merchants and vendors offer everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to exotic meats like kangaroo and camel burgers. Every Saturday, the North Market building comes alive with one of Toronto’s best farmer’s markets while on Sundays visitors can experience a one-of-a-kind antiques market.
On a typical morning, St. Lawrence visitors can be found lining up bright and early for a hearty Peameal Bacon sandwich at Carousel Bakery. A Canadian delicacy since 1875, the Peameal Bacon sandwich isn’t quite what Americans might think of as “Canadian bacon.” Rather, the sandwich features thick cuts of sweet back bacon coated in a fine layer of corn meal (Prior to 1902, the meat was coated in peameal and the name stuck).
A St. Lawrence staple for over 30 years, Carousel normally attracts quite a crowd and has served an impressive clientele, including celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. The simple sandwich (just meat and bun) is missing just one ingredient when it reaches your plate: mustard. For that, Carousel turns to the folks at Kozlik’s Canadian Mustard.
Kozlik’s XXX Hot Mustard
Koslik’s Mustard was originally established in 1948 and has been under the current ownership since 2000. The unique shop offers over two dozen types of mustard, ranging from sweet and savory to extra spicy. Visitors to the market can sample each mustard, with the bravest of the brave skipping straight to the XXX Hot variety made with habanero peppers.
Kangaroo Top Side at Whitehouse Meats
After breakfast, visitors can explore a few St. Lawrence’s famous delicatessens. Two of the biggies are Scheffler’s Deli and Whitehouse Meats. At Scheffler’s shoppers are greeted by a virtual wall of cheese with variations representing almost every part of the globe. Over at Whitehouse Meats, visitors can find the standard ham and turkey displays interspersed with some exotic delicacies like camel and even kangaroo!
Rube’s Rice serves over 50 varieties
The foodie paradise continues downstairs, with dozens of restaurants serving up everything from authentic Italian food to perogies to sushi. There are some impressive specialty shops down there as well, including Rube’s Rice (serving up 50 different varieties of the stuff) and Honey World, featuring the finest honey straight from New Zealand. Don’t forget to stop at A-Bisket-A-Basket where you can sample the famous “Pope Jam,” a lavender infused jam that was requested by Pope John Paul II during his visit to Toronto.
Bruce Bell depicted in a mural at St. Lawrence Market
There’s so much going on at St. Lawrence Market that it would be nearly impossible to mention everything in one blog post. Even one visit doesn’t do the market justice. If you’ll soon be boarding flights to Toronto, consider booking a tour of St. Lawrence Market with Toronto historian Bruce Bell to get the most out of your visit. Bruce is somewhat of a legend around the market and is even featured in a mural located downstairs. As entertaining as he is knowledgeable, Bruce makes the market come alive like no one else can.
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