Montreal’s Atwater Market

from left to right: preserves on display at Au Coin Gourmand, a sign in front of a butcher's stall quotes Stendhal: "Happiness is having your passion for your career", one entrance to the market. All images: Rebecca Baugniet

On a recent visit to Montreal, I took a little trip down my culinary memory lane, and spent some time at one of Montreal’s four permanent markets. The Atwater Market, located in the St. Henri neighbourhood, was the closest market to my childhood home, and the place we would go at least once each season, to choose our Halloween pumpkins, our Christmas wreaths, etc. I remember my father chatting with the butchers who would lean over their cases to offer lolipops and how, in the  late spring, there was a huge tub filled with live trout at one end of the long art deco building where my brother and I would watch people reeling in their dinner as our parents stocked up on starter plants and fresh vegetables.

Beyond housing happy memories, the market is still bursting with an incredible variety of fresh foods, from the farmers’ stalls that flank the building, to the bakery, gourmet supplies and butcher stalls on the inside. Each stall has carved out its own niche, one selling only terrines and pates, while the neighbouring stall boasts wild boar and game. Across the aisle you can find duck and rabbit, or the market’s sausage maker. The trout tank is gone, but the Poissonerie carries a beautiful selection and the Fromagerie is a little piece of  cheese lover’s  heaven. One new vendor that caught my eye is the local chocolatier Genevieve Gadbois, who has created a whimsical line based on “souvenirs d’enfance” (childhood memories), giving the nostalgic flavours of nougat, cherry, marshmallow and coconut a grown-up twist. Her seasonal offering was chocolate-coated blueberries from the Lac-St-Jean region. The Premiere Moisson Bakery anchors the south end of the building, serving quality breads, patisseries and viennoiseries in a cafe setting.

Built in 1933, the market was used by the military as a meat storage facility during World War II. The third floor of the building is now rented out to a gymnastics studio, which helps sustain the market with a steady flow of customers even in the winter months.

If you support the idea of a permanent public market in Victoria, be sure to check out the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society’s website, and their Eat Here Now Local Food Festival, Sept. 11 from 11-4 in Centennial Square.


Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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