It’s summer time in the Northern hemisphere. On our recent visit to far away Canada we filled our stomach with lush summer fruit: golden peaches with hints of red blush, tangy sweet strawberries and juice dripping plums. Slurp! slurp. Snow covered streets was a thing of the past season.
An easy walk down Talbot street, at corner of King street, London Ontario, was the iconic Covent market. Established in 1845,the brown stone building is a popular landmark. It’s large clock dial at the entrance, high ceiling and noveau glass panes make the architecture of this two storey building. The ground floor is home to local vendors, some who are here for more than 20 years, everyday! From gourmet cheese from south Ontario, fresh seasonal groceries, award-winning meat cuts to locally prepared breads and pastries, the market hall caters to all. Come summer, there’s even a special weekend outdoor market in addition to indoor stalls. ‘Want a special Maple syrup, Canadás very own?’ inquired a vendor, noticing my touristy attire and inquisitiveness. The early Aboriginal settlers taught the arriving Europeans (Canadians) to harvest maple sap from the trees, boil it in clay pots and use syrup to lace sweet treats.
‘Coffee and raisin bread?’ asked my friend. we quickly opted for the outdoor wooden benches at the street level, rather than the quietude of the first floor indoor coffee shop. ‘Just like other Canadians…soak up the sun, while it lasts, listen to the summer time live music bands playing in the background’ I chirped with a smile.
Montreal: Marche BonSecours
The old city cobbled walk was picturesque and informative, magnificent stone buildings dotting both sides of the street. On Rue St. Paul Est (yes, official language is French, in this Provence) the Marche BonSecours stood majestically. We stood in awe at this architectural grandeur!
The building almost occupied the entire street, perfectly symmetrical on each side of its imaginative central line.The six Roman columns make an imposing front central facade above which a triangular plaque bears the name of the market. We soon learned about the Palladian style architecture (perfect building symmetry, perspective in all round view and values) brought here by British architect William Footner. He copied from Roman and Greek styles so true to the time period. The central dome and rotunda was so high…almost touching the clear blue sky!
A very popular market in the 1800’s, it served local and regional population with produce coming from far away. After being shut down as a market in 1964, it served as Government office. In recent times, the large central hall and majestic first floor rooms and corridor are often rented out for community projects, marriage functions and exhibitions. It’s no longer functions as a produce market.
To cater to the summer tourists and locals (schools close for summer holidays) nearby streets stretched out with a variety of stalls. Souvenirs, exotic sugarcane juice, rows of Maple syrup, locally painted canvas Art, handcrafted jewellery, candy floss and ice cream treats, straw bags, handcrafted dolls…the street market was brimming had a very vibrant mood!
Very near the Parliament buildings and historical buildings in Ottawa is popular, bustling ByWard marketplace. With over 400 unique shops that fill this area, there is something for everyone! There is NEVER a dull moment here, come winter or summer. If not to shop, at least we can capture a memento photo at the iconic signpost, I thought.
The red stone buildings here have much history. In the yesteryear they were private residences of many officials and merchants. Today they have become business houses: shops, cafes, restaurants, bakeries and garden equipment markets. By the day the place attracts many a home maker, casual tourist, office goer looking for quick bite.
But as the sun sets …the sidewalk cafe, restaurants and beer shops attract another set of consumers! At times though…. sadly the street is strewn by glass bottles thrown by drunk people, it’s a place for small time robbery and fights too.
‘Don’t forget the maple syrup bottles,there is a special kiosk here’ called out a vendor. I noticed the ‘fleur’ blue and white flag, indicating the flag of the region.
My friend pointed out to some fresh strawberries and Rhubarb. Those reddish-purple stalks were unique, I thought. We picked up a bunch to make rhubarb compote. Then move on to sweet treat and cross cultural friendship hugs. The Óbama cookies reminded us of cross border friendship:) For the sugar treat the big French Bakery was a perfect place.
It was time to head home, taking back memories and photographs of the city markets. It was time to ponder about culture, food and seasons in lands far beyond. It was time to value what we have in hand and what we get…beyond.
Au revoir…till we meet again.