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The Old City
in 1876, the Old City Market has withstood the test of time - from The Great
Fire of 1877 which devoured the city around it only a year after it opened, to
the twentieth-century urban renewal that built a brand new city right outside
the iron gates.
A full city block in length, the Market
runs downhill from the "head of the Market" on Charlotte Street, gently sloping
to the Germain Street entrance, a full 20 feet below. At both entrances hang
the same gates that have swung closed at the end of each business day since
1880. Crafted from heavy wrought-iron, their graceful design is a tribute to
the skill and artistry of the local blacksmith who created them.
City Market has been designated by the Government of Canada as a place of
national historic significance. This place is part of the Family of National
Historic Sites, one of more than 800 places across Canada which help define the
important aspects of Canada's diverse but common heritage and identity.
For more information on this historic site be sure
to check out the official site at:http://www.sjcitymarket.ca/
To find out more about the
Old City Market contact:
Deputy Market Clerk,
Saint John City Market
47 Charlotte Street
Saint John, New Brunswick
Canada E2l 2H8
Fax: (506) 649-7966
OPEN 6 DAYS A WEEK
Monday - Friday 7:30 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
Closed Sundays and Holidays
The City Market - 125 years Young!
Opened 1876 in Saint John, N.B. Canada
the ancient privileges incident to every authorized Market was the Piedpoudre
Court. This court which became the "Pie Powder Court" in common terms was
responsible for all commercial dealings in the Market. Presided over by the
Market Clerk, it could levy fines, retain or expel merchants and set rules of
behaviour within the Market area.
City reports show that
the Court was both vigilant and busy. There are lists of fines levied on short
weights, bad meat and vegetables, and breaking of the stipulated rules of
The so-called "Pie Powder Court" has
fallen into disuse because its functions have been taken over by Governmental
agencies i.e., Board of Health, Department of Agriculture, etc.
The Market Clerk and his staff still preside over the
daily operation of the Market and report through the Market Committee to the
Saint John City Council.
It might be of interest that the
derivation of Piedpoudre is from the Norman French and referred to common
peddlers and chapmen who travelled from market to market and because of their
wanderings had "dusty feet."
The Saint John Market to a
great extent, exemplifies the generally relaxed life style of local citizens.
The great Market Hall is conductive to conversations with the established
merchants, the farmers and handicraft merchants. Recipes, plans, gossip and
merits of products, are dispensed in equal amounts. The Market exudes an air of
old time friendliness and gives the visitor a chance to shop on a personal
basis and even to practice the long forgotten art of haggling.
The market as a concept was a particular place for the
sale or barter of farm produce and cottage crafts. Gradually as land units with
a larger concentration of inhabitants evolved during the thirteenth century,
market days became more frequent and their products more diverse.
Cattle, wool, fish and horses are examples of special
markets that were established and some of them still exist in almost their
original format and exact site, this is particularly true in the British Isles.
THE MARKET GATES
of the Saint John City Market were commissioned to be built for the same
utilarian purpose for which all gates are made, to bar entrances; in the case
of the City Market; at night after the closing bell has
The workmen of Banfill and Aiken who fashioned the
gates in 1880 were able to design structures that combined the practical with
the aesthetic. Working with the inelegant and unyielding medium of malleable
iron they formed gates that are masterpieces from the craft of blacksmithing.
The composition of circles, arabesques and straight lines form a tracery that
give an impression of lightness and airiness that belie the weight and strength
of the completed structures.
Because they are still being
used for the purpose for which they were made, we are unable to show them in a
better setting. We would suggest you view them and you will be impressed by the
artistry and creativity of the craftsmen of 96 years
The first market in Saint John was called the Country
Market and was held on King Street about in the area now the site of Brunswick
Square. It was held in the open air and was subject to the vagaries of the
Eventually the city controlled 5 markets; a Fish
Market and wharf on Water Street, a cluster of sheds on Market Street called
the Country Market, Sydney Market that served Lower Cove and a Hay Market on
During the early days in Saint John, King
Square was used extensively as a site for livestock markets. As the City
Fathers gradually improved the appearance of the Square, the markets were
discontinued. The Hay Market was moved to the eastern outskirts of the city and
named Wellington Market, the name, Wellington, never really took hold and
Haymarket Square became firmly established.
As the City
of Saint John grew in size and influence, the condition and dispersal of these
markets became, not only an embarrassment, but highly
Pressure from the public forced Council to
plan for a centralized market.
It was on May 4, 1874,
that Common Council by resolution ordered its Market Committee: to consider the
advisability of the Corporation putting up a building on the vacant ground at
the North East end of the Country Market lot.
time Market Street would be almost in the centre of today's Market Building and
the sheds containing stalls were on either side of the
The Market Committee which was a Committee of
Council asked at the meeting of May 15, 1874, that any further building of
sheds or leasing of ground, be held in obeyance, until they had made their
recommendations. This came on June 3, 1874, when they asked for authorization
"to take such action as they may deem expedient for obtaining plans and
specifications for the erection of a Country Market and report thereon.
They received the authority and immediately advertised
for architectural designs.
The Committee presented their
report on December 16,1874: - "Your Committee to whom it was referred to have
plans prepared with a view to their erection of a Market on the Country Market
Lot, advertised for plans, offering two prizes architects who might desire to
compete in making suggestions for a Market design.
received several plans which have been for some months on exhibition at the
Mayor's Office. With reference to the prizes offered. Your Committee, having
received a report from a sub-committee appointed to carefully inspect the
plans, recommend that, the first place of $200 be awarded to Messrs McKean and
Fairweather for their plan No. 2 and the second prize of $100 to D. E. Dunham.
That in acknowledgement of the excellence of two of the
other plans submitted your committee recommend that Mr. W.P. Clark and Mr. W.M.
Smith receive a premium of $50 each.
In the Royal
Charter granted by George III in 1785, incorporating Saint John, New Brunswick,
as a city, it is clearly stated the privileges andstrictures governing Markets.
In the quaint language of the Charter it said: and We do
further, for Us, our Heirs and Successors, will ordain and grant that the Mayor
of the said city, for the time being, shall forever hereafter be Clerk of the
market of Us, our Heirs and Successors within the city aforesaid, and the
limits, liberties and precincts thereof: and that the Mayor the said city for
the time being, by himself or his Deputy, may and shall have full power and
authority to do and execute and shall and may do and execute, forever, within
the limits, liberties and precincts of the said city, all and whatsoever to the
office of Clerk of the Market, there doth, shall or may belong, without any
hindrance or impediment of Us, our Heirs or Successors or any the officers of
Us, our Heirs or Successors; and that no other Clerk of the market shall
intermeddle there; .....
Further on in the same section of
the Charter, it defines the Mayor's right to grant licenses and the use of the
seal of the Mayor's Office as distinct from the Corporation .... and also that
the Mayor of the said city for the time being, shall have full power and
authority to license and appoint by warrant under his hand and seal two or any
greater number of Marshals of the said city, Bell Ringers and Cryers of the
Court Session and Common Pleas, Porters of the great beam, balance and weights,
common porter carriers, cartmen, waggoners, teamsters, draymen, ballastmen,
lightermen, wherrymen, parkters, cullers, common cryers, scavengers and
beadles, and to displace all or any of them and to put others in their rooms,
and to add or diminish the number of them or any of them (except the Marshalls
which shall not be less than two) when and as often as the Mayor, for the time
being, shall be called the seal of the Mayoralty of Saint John, and shall serve
and be used as well for the deputing, licensing or appointing of all such
officers and ministers of the said city.
A copy of the
Mayor's seal is reproduced here. There were rates wet for the various licenses,
positions and services which required this seal, the money accruing from the
use of the seal belonged to the Mayor, this of course was before a salary was
set for the office of Mayor.
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