A water colour painting of a nineteenth-century street scene. In the centre-back of the frame is a two-storey white building that is labelled "St. Patricks" on its exteriour. Behind the building can be seen a church with a tall steeple. To the left, a three-storey brick warehouse can be seen labeled "Angus McIntosh Groceries, Wines, Spirits, Teas, Crockery, Glassware &." On the street, several horse and carriages can be seen.

Good Eats: St. Patrick’s Market

St. Patrick’s Market

A water colour painting of a nineteenth-century street scene. In the centre-back of the frame is a two-storey white building that is labelled "St. Patricks" on its exteriour. Behind the building can be seen a church with a tall steeple. To the left, a three-storey brick warehouse can be seen labeled "Angus McIntosh Groceries, Wines, Spirits, Teas, Crockery, Glassware &." On the street, several horse and carriages can be seen.

View of Lot Street (now Queen Street), including St. Patrick’s Market in 1845. Watercolour by Frederick Victor Poole. 1912. Courtesy of Toronto Public Library.

A black and white image of a nineteenth-century street scene centred on a two-storey building, topped by a square tower. On the centre, front of the building reads a sign “S. Patrick’s Market.” A horse-drawn cart along with several men and women as well as children stand in front of the building.

Exterior of St. Patrick’s Market, Queen Street West, 1885. Toronto Public Library.

A colour photograph of a one-storey brick building. The centre of the building features a recessed entrance. On the right side of the building a large sign reads, "A. Stork & Sons Ltd. 238 Queen St. W. We specialize in Fresh Killed Poultry, Cut-Up chicken. Established over 80 years. 598-3111. Where Chicken is Queen and Quality Supreme."

A. Stork & Sons Ltd., Queen Street West, 1988, City of Toronto Archives, Series 1465, File 24, Item 11

One of Toronto’s first public markets

This site, today known as St. Patrick’s Square, is the former home of Toronto’s second oldest public market. As the town of York grew in the early nineteenth century, St. Patrick Market was established to serve the communities west of Yonge Street, who found it too far to travel to the town’s other public market, St. Lawrence Market. Although the market was largely informal even after Toronto was incorporated in 1834, the prosperous Boulton family granted a small parcel of land to serve as the permanent home for the St. Patrick’s Market at the southernmost edge of their estate, known as the Grange. Situated just north of Lot Street (today’s Queen Street), the land housed a temporary market for several years before a more permanent structure was erected around 1840.

Building a permanent market

The first permanent building on this site dates to the mid-1840s and likely was based on the layout of the St. Lawrence Market: two stories with vendors for fruits, vegetables, cheese, and meats on the ground floor with space for meeting rooms and storage on the second floor. Throughout the nineteenth century, the market building was used for several purposes, including as a school building and a site for municipal elections. By the mid-1860s, the state of the market building had deteriorated: locals grumbled in The Globe newspaper that “…it would not be considered…sufficiently clean even for the sale of live pigs.”

An uncertain future

In 1911, the St. Patrick’s Market was rebuilt featuring a new one-storey building. But local demand for the public market diminished with the rise of new grocery stores and supermarkets. By the 1920s, a chicken abattoir, A. Stork and Sons Ltd., had taken over the market space. The business remained in the location for over fifty years until their lease on the property expired in 1986. A new venture, known as the Queen-St. Patrick Market Inc., leased the property for fifty years in 1989. The company spearheaded a new food market in the St. Patrick’s Market building in the 1990s, which featured multiple food shops offering everything from ice cream to ramen. But, by late 2017, the market building was again empty. The City of Toronto terminated the fifty-year lease with Market Inc. in 2019. For now, the future of the St. Patrick’s Market remains unclear.