St. Lawrence Market Toronto

The St. Lawrence Market, past and present

The St. Lawrence Market is one of Toronto's oldest institutions, technically dating as far back as 1803 when Governor Peter Hunter designated the area south of King between Jarvis and Church and down to Front the "Market Block." Former iterations of the South Market even housed Toronto's City Hall prior to the construction of E.J. Lennox's version on Queen just east of Bay Street.

There is a nice little overview of the history of the buildings and area on the Market's website, so instead of re-telling the story via a write-up, I've decided to devote the Friday photo essay to a look at the Market over the years. Although not quite comprehensive, the photos below offer a good picture of just how much both the complex itself and the practices of selling food have changed.

The photos of the Market in the 1970s, taken by City photographer Ellis Wiley, are a particularly stark reminder of the fact that food storage was less regulated back then (at least in market settings). If you're uncomfortable with the display of meat, it might be best to avoid scrolling through these photos.

St. Lawrence Market Toronto

Also fascinating is the difference in the density of the Market area. In the late 1970s and early 80s, huge swaths of land had been "clear-cut" and replaced by parking lots (above). It saddens me to to look at photos like this, especially considering the quality of many of the buildings lost, but as the present day (actually 2006) photo shows, density has slowly returned.

St. Lawrence Market Toronto

Here's a look at the last 130 years or so with archival photos and contemporary images from the blogTO Flickr pool. First and second photos above from the Toronto Archives; third by Sean Galbraith.

1880s (Toronto Archives)

St. Lawrence Market history


1900s (Toronto Archives)

20101227-1904-st._Lawrence_Market,_flower_and_fruit_show.jpg


St. Lawrence Market Toronto

1910s (The canopy over Front remained until 1954, Toronto Archives)

St Lawrence Market history


1960s (Following two images from the York University Archives)

2011121-Stlawrenceext1965.jpg


St Lawrence Market History

1970s (Following six images from the Toronto Archives)

2011121-meat_market1.jpg


2011121-meat_market2.jpg2011121-St.-LAwrence-Meat.jpg2011121-St.-LAwrence-Meats.jpg2011121-St.-Lawrence-Peameal.jpg2011121-parking-ot.jpg

Early 1980s (Outside North Building, Toronto Archives)

2011121-North-Buildings.jpg


Contemporary photos from the blogTO Flickr pool

2011121-st.law.ext.ashtonpal.jpg2011121-stlawbasementmartypinker.jpg

Photo by marty_pinker.

2011121-stlawcontemptysonwill.jpg

Photo by tysonwilliams.com.

2011121-stlawrencecontempabove.jpg

Photo by ThiswaytoDrew.

2011121-contempstlawgrounlynx.jpg

Photo by Uncle Lynx.


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