Thursday, September 8, 2011

My travel log: The oldest city market in North America

Hello all, after five adventurous weeks travelling in East Canada, I'm back. I have so many photos and I've seen, heard, ate and done so much that I'm still overwhelmed. Not to mention the jetlag that made me feel like my head is full of maple syrup. At first I didn't know where to begin. I have so much to tell about so many things: gluten-free travelling, eating and travelling abroad with kids, Atlantic Canada cuisine, and so much more. The past week I sat in front of the computer staring at the photos we took and couldn't write a single word. So I decided I'll just start somewhere, and I chose to start with the day we spent at the city market of Saint John, New Brunswick. In the following weeks I'll add more posts to my Canada Travel Log from time to time.

Truth be told, I didn't consider a stop at the city of Saint John, we planned to hike around the Fundy Bay area and then drive back all the way to Quebec City. But after reading in my Canada guide book about St. John's city market, I changed my mind. Saint John is situated at the mouth of the St. John River on the Fundy Bay and it is the largest city in the Province of New Brunswick. Arriving the city from the Fundy Bay National Park region, we were greeted by a beautiful, warm sunny day which was quite refreshing after three days of fog and rain. We got to the market just before lunch time and it was already very crowded. The atmosphere was very lively and vibrant and although the market space is relatively small; it is packed with everything you can think of: from fresh produce to Chinese grocery, from ham sandwiches to lobsters, I found it quite charming. I bought cherry, scallions and a pair of silver earing made by a local artist. There is great emphasis on locally grown products.

The Saint John City Market is the oldest continuing farmer's market in Canada, with a charter dating from 1785 and it was completed in 1876. The current market building has a unique roof structure that resembles an inverted ship's keel. According to Wikipedia some of the businesses in the market have been operating continuously there for more than 100 years. The market was designated a National Historic Site of Canada 25 years ago.

Naturally sea food and fish are very prominent in the market, and among the lobsters, clams, fish and crab I found a curious plant sold as a delicacy. 
Dulse (seaweed)

Dulse is dry seaweed, a red alga actually named Palmaria palmate, and it is a good source of minerals and vitamins compared with other vegetables since it contains all trace elements. Dulse is commonly used in Ireland, Iceland, Atlantic Canada and the Northeast United States both as food and medicine. It is also used in cooking because its properties are similar to those of a flavour-enhancer such as MSG. Fresh dulse can be eaten directly off the rocks before sun-drying. Sun-dried dulse is eaten as is or is ground to flakes or a powder. It can also be pan fried quickly into chips, baked in the oven or simply microwaved briefly. I've stumbled upon this site, if you're in the area and got some dulse. Unfortunately we didn't buy any, so I can't attest to the taste and quality of dulse. It doesn't look very inviting. Maybe next time.

We decided to join the crowd and have our lunch at the market. Simple yet very tasty fish and chips and a salmon sandwich ended our lovely time at the market. The kids satisfied their sweet tooth with maple toffee lollipops and we were back on the road. Driving  300km to Grand Falls, NB but that is another story that will be told some other time.

Our Canada voyage in short: Landing in Montreal and spending a few days exploring the city, from there driving to the Mauricie National Park and further to Quebec City; a 1000km drive with only one stop on the way brought us to North Sydney where we took the ferry to Newfoundland. After 10 days we took the ferry back and stayed 2 days on Cape Breton, Nova-Scotia. Drove from there to Prince Edward Island, after 5 days on the island we got back to New-Brunswick's Fundy Bay area. All the way back to Montreal via Grand Falls, NB and Ile d'Orleans ,Quebec. We took the train to Toronto, and there we boarded the plane back home, to hot Israel. 


  1. Beautiful. Brings back memories.

  2. Wow, great day at the market. It's funny how we both did such different things despite being on the same travel route. After Boston we didn't attempt driving our Elk-Mobile into any city, way too much hassle.

  3. BTW, it's usually written as Saint John and not St. John (which is used for Newfoundland's eastern city), even with this difference my Dad told me his luggage went to the wrong provence on a kayak trip