For nearly 200 years this rollicking public market has played host to artisans, farmers and craft merchants who converge year-round to sell their specialty items and wares. The downtown ByWard Market, just a short walk from Parliament Hill, also houses numerous cafés and some of the city’s best pubs and restaurants. And when the streetlights turn on, the market becomes one of the spots in Ottawa to grab a late night drink and catch some live music.
- Established by Lieutenant-Colonel John By, builder of the Rideau Canal, in 1826, the ByWard Market is one of Canada’s oldest and largest public markets; farmers and craft merchants from across the Capital Region gather to sell their wares daily. At the height of summer, up to 175 outdoor stands may be operating.
- “The Market”, as Ottawans call it, is more than just a farmers’ market – it’s the name of the surrounding neighbourhood too. “Heading to the Market” might mean buying broccoli, but it might also mean going out for dinner, picking up a birthday present, shopping for a new outfit or meeting up with friends for a drink.
- The outdoor vendors in the ByWard Market neighbourhood operate 363 days per year; they’re only closed on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. In the winter months, you’ll find Christmas trees and decorations, cut flowers, maple syrup, and arts and crafts. Spring, summer and fall brings more bedding plants and flowers, as well as fruits and vegetables.
- There are more than 120 places to eat and drink in the four-block-by-four-block neighbourhood, from greasy spoons to taverns, and from cafés to high-end restaurants. It’s all within a few blocks!
- Open year-round, the original BeaverTails stand is at the corner of William Street and George Street. These whole-wheat pastries—stretched to the shape of a beaver’s tail—are delicious topped with sweet or savoury toppings.
- If buying local is important to you, look up! Signage on the outdoor market food stalls tell you whether the person is selling 100% locally grown or raised products (green sign with Savour Ottawa logo), at least 60% locally grown or raised products (yellow sign), or products that may have come from anywhere (red sign).
- The Market is the setting for many popular annual events, including the culinary Tastes of ByWard, the Winterlude Stew Cook-Off, ByWard Market Mardi Gras and more.
- There are several secluded cobblestone squares in the Market – see if you can find them. One of the most popular is the Clarendon Courtyard, which offers five restaurants on its cobblestones.
- Did you know that there are horse stables within the ByWard Market neighbourhood? John Cundell is the third generation in his family to keep horses on York Street, just east of Dalhousie Street. He is available for weddings, birthdays and groups. The local merchants’ association also uses Cundell’s services to provide free horse-drawn carriage rides in the neighbourhood each Christmas season!