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Xmas at the historic St. Lawrence Market in 1921 and in 2012

14 Dec

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The St. Lawrence Market at Front and Jarvis Streets, named after the patron saint of Canada, opened in November of 1803. The governor at the time of its inception, Peter Hunter, had stipulated that it would occupy approximately five and a half acres at King and Front Streets, and it opened on 5 November of that year. Its exact size and location, as well as the various buildings, have changed throughout the years, but since its inauguration, there had always been a market on the site.

Today, the traditions of old have mostly disappeared, but the market remains an important part of the Christmas scene for many residents of the city. This year I visited the market early one morning, before the crowds descended. It was marvellous to view the decorations and displays of food in the many stalls and shops. 

Below is a passage from the book, “There Never Was a Better Time.” It tells about two young immigrants, Jack and Ernie, who were employed by McNamara’s Market Gardens at Bathurst and Davenport Road in 1921, in Toronto. At Christmas, they worked at the St. Lawrence Market selling the produce of the market gardens.

For the last few days before Christmas, Jack and Ernie worked at the St. Lawrence Market to sell the last of McNamara’s carrots, onions, and potatoes, as well as the fresh flowers from the greenhouses. Throughout the market, yuletide decorations were in abundance. Sprays of mistletoe glistened among the displays of imported oranges and lemons. Evergreen branches hung on the racks amid the sausages. The remaining Christmas trees were now going for only thirty-five cents. Large, red paper bells and green garlands hung from the booths, trucks, and long tables.

By 5 pm on Christmas Eve, the stands were mostly empty of goods, and most of the shoppers had departed for the warmth of their homes. Geese had been the favourite fowl of the season, and not one remained for sale in the market—nor anywhere else in the city, for that matter. There were no turkeys, either—they had been in short supply and had disappeared in the early afternoon. The man dressed in the Santa Claus outfit, who had strolled all day among the tables and carts, was beginning to droop. The final hour, for both worker and shopper, had finally arrived.

Jack and Ernie cleared the McNamara tables and loaded the few remaining sacks of potatoes and carrots into the wagon. John McNamara shook their hands and handed them each an envelope containing a small bonus. Imparting a weary sigh, he smiled and said, “A very merry Christmas.”

As the Taylor brothers left the market, powdery snow settled on the streets and the rooftops. The curtain had closed on the final public scene of the yuletide pageant. In this year of 1921, Christmas Day, with all its love, mystery, and nostalgia, had quietly taken centre stage.

For a link to this book:https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/there-never-was-a-better-time/

To view a post about Toronto’s first City Hall, now a part of the St. Lawrence Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/torontos-first-city-hall-now-a-part-of-the-st-lawrence-market/

The St. Lawrence Hall on King Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/enjoying-torontos-architectural-gems-the-st-lawrence-hall/

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To view posts about Christmas in Toronto throughout the years.

The Christmas windows at the Bay Store on Queen Street, 2012

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/the-2012-christmas-windows-at-the-bay-store-on-queen-street/

The amazing gingerbread houses on the underground Pathway in Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/amazing-christmas-gingerbread-houses-on-torontos-pathway/

The gigantic metallic reindeer in the Eaton Centre

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/13/the-gigantic-xmas-reindeer-in-the-eaton-centre/

Christmas cards mailed in Toronto during the years 1924-1926

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/xmas-cards-mailed-in-toronto-1924-1927/

The Christmas buffet lunch at the Arcadian Court at the Simpson’s Queen Street Store in Toronto (the Bay)

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/christmas-lunch-at-simpsons-arcadian-court-in-the-1950s-featured-in-murdermystery/

Christmas at Mackenzie House on Bond Street.

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/torontos-mackenzie-house-on-bond-street-at-christmas/

Christmas at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/christmas-at-the-st-lawrence-market-in-torontos-yesteryear/

The Christmas Market at the Distillery District

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/my-recent-visit-to-torontos-christmas-market-at-the-distillery-district/

Memories of the Christmas windows of the Simpson’s store on Queen Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/03/memories-of-the-christmas-windows-of-the-simpsons-store-at-queen-and-bay-streets/

Christmas at the Kensington Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/enjoying-the-kensington-market-at-christmas/

Memories of Toyland on the fifth floor of the old Eaton’s Store at Queen and Yonge Street

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/memories-of-eatons-toyland-in-the-1940s/

The Christmas lights on Yonge Street in the 1950s

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/24/memories-of-the-lights-at-xmas-on-torontos-yonge-street-in-the-1950s/

The history of Toronto’s Santa Claus Parade

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/history-of-torontos-santa-claus-parade/

The 1940s Christmas radio broadcasts featuring Santa Claus

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/memories-of-trimming-the-tree-and-the-eatons-christmas-radio-broadcasts-in-1944/

Christmas at Toronto’s historic St. Andrew’s Market

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/christmas-during-the-19th-century-at-torontos-historic-st-andrews-market/

Christmas trees and seasonal decorations in Toronto

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/favourite-christmas-trees-and-decorations-in-toronto-this-year/

Celebrating the 12 days of Christmas in old Newfoundland

https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/celebrating-the-12-days-of-christmas-in-the-newfoundland-of-yesteryear/

Link to the Home Page for this blog: https://tayloronhistory.wordpress.com/

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Toronto

 

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