From the Vaults: To market, to market

The Nova Scotia Archives is pleased to share photos showcasing the changing faces of urban centers in Nova Scotia. You can learn more about the archives and explore thousands of photos, textual records, maps, art, and more on their website.

Established in 1750, the Halifax Farmers’ Market is the oldest continuously running market in North America. Sitting at the entrance to the Halifax Harbour, the Halifax Seaport Market is the market’s fourteenth location since its creation by Royal Proclamation in 1750.

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Market Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Bedford Row and Cheapside, ca. 1869

First 100 years it was located on the corner of Bedford Row and Hollis Street where you could buy livestock and produce from rural and local farms.

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Bedford Row, Halifax NS. On a Saturday morning Market Day with county people selling produce along the sidewalks ca. 1890

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Market Day in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Corner of Bedford Row and Cheapside, ca. 1886

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“Halifax Police Court & City Hall (formerly Exchange Coffee House), City Market House (built 1851 or ’58), and Market Square, at corner of Bedford Row & George St., Halifax, taken on a Saturday morning, July 1886, by Dr. G.L. Sinclair, looking NNE”

The Halifax Police Court and City Hall was built in 1810 as the County Court House; the court occupied the main floor, with the Exchange Coffee House on the first and attic floors. In 1841 the building became Halifax’s first City Hall. The City Market Building was erected in 1854 from the designs of architect William Findlay. It later housed various city offices until the new City Hall was built on the Grand Parade. Then as now, Saturday mornings brought crowds of people to the Market.

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Looking up George Street, Halifax, on market day, ca. 1879

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Selling baskets on market day, Halifax, ca. 1890

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Vendors, likely from the Preston area, are selling ferns, cucumbers, squash, and other produce, in baskets, ca. 1900

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Faders Bros. at Market, 8-10 Bedford Row, Halifax, N.S., 1885

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“Outside Old City Market, Halifax, N.S.”, ca. 1953

In 1916 it moved to Market Street. In 1953 it was located at 148 Market Street, a building purpose-designed in 1913 by architect S. P. Dumaresq. By 1953, however, most of the building had been taken over by the Halifax Police Department.

The market was adrift through the 1970s until it found a home at what is now known as the Brewery Market in 1983. It remains there, but inĀ  2010 the majority of vendors moved to the Halifax Seaport Market.

5 comments

  1. Thank you for this. I lived in Halifax for a few years and was always curious why no one seemed put off by the idea of leaving the delightfully intimate and labarinthyne Brewery building for the new port building. I now see that it wasn’t the space that was so important to people but the notion of a farmers market. That said, I remain disappointed that the new building lacks the intimacy of the old space (nooks and crannys for preformers around every corner, etc.) – it may as well be any large grocery store.

  2. As members of a support group for the Historic Farmers’ Market which continues to operate at the Keith’s Brewery site, we were extremely pleased to see the history of the various incarnations of the market. The photographs and captions show the significance of such an important part of our culture and history.

    The new Seaport Market is a fine addition to the waterfront but for the purist and for those who enjoy the tradition and history of the Halifax marketplace, a visit to the historic setting of Keith’s Brewery is an absoulute must on Saturday morning.

    Tourists & locals alike can take in both locations as they are within walking distance and each offers its own ambience.

  3. Thank you for an excellent article. I’m wondering what happened to the City Market House. From what I can find, the beautiful New Customs House was built on that site sometime around 1908. I read that they demolished the Customs House in 1955…any idea why?? Sadly I know the site now is a parking lot.

  4. The statement, “First 100 years it was located on the corner of Bedford Row and Hollis Street where you could buy…” is not correct. Hollis St and Bedford Row are parallel to each other. The original City Market was at the corner of Bedford Row and George St.

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