Find out where to pick up rare vintage antiques, locally grown organic produce and handcrafted jewelry with this guide to the 10 best markets in Toronto.
Toronto’s markets are what they are because of the people who run them. You’ll find all the usual market goods, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find out that the artist who made those earrings also has an exhibition on at the Daniel Faria Gallery, or that the farmer who grew those carrots quit their day job to set up sustainable farms across Ontario. Toronto’s markets aren’t just a place to shop, but also a place where you can learn more about the stories that form the colorful tapestry of the city’s diverse population.
On a more practical note, while artisan crafts dominate Downtown, you’ll find the real bargains further afield, at flea markets north and west of the city, where you can also escape to greener surrounds and try cuisines that can’t be had in the Downtown core. Here’s a guide to Toronto’s markets.
St Lawrence Market for mouthwatering eats in a historic building
Downtown Toronto’s biggest and best market is the historic St Lawrence Market. The sprawling building dates back to 1845, but merchants started selling on this site in 1803. Today there are over 120 vendors selling fresh produce, meat and seafood, baked goods and ready-to-eat food at a range of price points. Head to Carousel Bakery for a taste of Toronto’s official food: the peameal bacon sandwich.
Located in a former streetcar repair factory built in the early 1900s, Wychwood Barns has since been transformed into live/work artists’ studios, galleries, a playground and an event space that hosts a popular year-round Saturday farmers’ market. Expect a healthy mix of farm vendors, bakeries and pantry items in addition to local cideries and wineries. Fun programming such as live music and storytelling tents creates a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere. The Stop Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 8am to 12.30pm.
The Evergreen Brick Works are a trek to get to, but well worth the visit. Located in a former quarry and brick-manufacturing facility along the wooded Don Valley, the weekend market is a chance to indulge in organic groceries and fresh air. The Saturday Farmers’ Market, which bills itself as the city’s largest, sells sustainably grown, or foraged, organic fruit and veg. End your excursion with a baked treat and a beverage. A shuttle bus operates from Broadview Station, but cycling is a much more picturesque way to get here. Shop at the Evergreen Brick Works every Saturday from 8am to 1pm.
Downsview Park Merchants Market for hidden treasures and food you can't find in Downtown Toronto
Market, Food Court, Canadian
This bustling warehouse-like indoor market in North York boasts over 500 vendors hawking bric-a-brac, second-hand electronics, jewelry and clothing, all at low prices. But the most attractive feature is its international food court, with vendors serving harder-to-find cuisines like Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Pakistani and Afghani. A farmers’ market serves up fresh produce, and there’s a kids’ zone with games and rides to keep the little ones entertained. Head down every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm.
Parkdale, one of Toronto’s hippest neighborhoods, is also home to a monthly flea market showcasing crafts and goods from local artisans and makers. Expect crafty items like handsewn coasters and knitted accessories, alongside natural beauty products and baked goods. This is one of the few dog-friendly markets in the city and organizers will even greet your pooch with a treat. Parkdale Flea takes place on Queen and Roncesvalles on the second Saturday of every month.
Trinity Bellwoods Flea for hipster-chic wares from local artists
Don’t let the name of this monthly artisan market fool you – Trinity Bellwoods Flea is actually located on one of Toronto’s main arteries, Queen Street West, in the historic Great Hall, a former YMCA built in 1889. It does, however, carry the same hipster-chic vibes of the market’s namesake neighborhood. Each market has a seasonal theme (back to school, spring, holidays) and its 60-plus local vendors rotate with each edition. Expect to find Instagrammably pretty wares like crocheted kids toys, handmade cannabis pipes, cross-stitch kits and screen-printed T-shirts. Markets take place here every month.
The Leslieville Flea for vintage knick-knacks and homemade wares
Head to the Leslieville Flea to find retro-chic artisan crafts. Vendors hawk vintage jewelry, handmade candles in teacups and second-hand clothes. Past vendors include Brave Soles shoes and handbags made from upcycled tires, and vintage barware from What a Dish. Dates and venues change, so make sure to check out the website in advance.
Dr Flea’s flea market for bric-a-brac and local celebrities
Market, Food Court, Canadian
Head west of the city to Dr Flea’s in Etobicoke to trawl the wares of 400-plus vendors selling antiques, flatscreen TVs and as-seen-on-TV gadgets. This long-standing flea market has been running for over three decades and keeps customers returning with unusual tactics like “flea dollar” coupons and celebrity signings with athletes like former Toronto Maple Leafs players and wrestling stars. Dr Flea’s Flea Market takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 10am till 5pm.
The Pink Market celebrates creatives, artists and designers in Toronto’s LGBTQ community. Local queer-friendly vendors showcase a range of handmade trinkets, artworks, clothes and books. Expect handmade leather harnesses and LGBT-positive motifs and messages everywhere. To help foster an environment of inclusivity, American Sign Language interpreters are on-hand and all the venues are wheelchair-accessible. The Pink Market takes place twice a year: in early June, to coincide with Pride Festival, and in winter.
For Torontonians, the unofficial launch of the holiday season is marked by the opening of the Distillery District’s Christmas Market. This festive European-style market is one of the few in North America and draws in huge crowds, especially on weekends. Outdoor firepits and hot cups of cocoa and mulled wine help get you into the spirit, along with a towering Christmas tree, a Ferris wheel, a carousel and vendors selling stocking-stuffers. The market begins in November and is free on weekdays (except Mondays); admission is charged on weekends, when the area becomes particularly packed.