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Image Credit: Michael Hanisco
The interior of St. Lawrence Market

 

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 St. Lawrence Market provides Torontonians and visiting tourists with truly unique shopping and dining experiences.

 

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 and on Sundays the site hosts a one-of-a-kind antiques market.

 

Carousel Bakery (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
Carousel Bakery

 

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, Peameal Bacon isn’t quite what Americans might think of as “Canadian bacon.” Rather, this 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 Stand.

 

Kozlik's Mustard (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
Kozlik's XXX Hot Mustard

 

Koslik’s Mustard was originally established in 1948 and has been under the current ownership since 2000. This 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. (And yes, it really is THAT hot.)

 

Exotic Meats at Whitehouse (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
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 up over 50 varieties (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
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.

 

 

Toronto historian Bruce Bell (Image Credit: Michael Hanisco)
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. And one visit is hardly enough to do the market justice. To get the most out of a visit, those soon boarding flights to Toronto should consider booking a tour of St. Lawrence Market with Toronto historian Bruce Bell. 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 with stories of its legendary past mixed with the scoop on its delectable present.  

 

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