The Hamilton Farmers’ Market is one of Hamilton’s oldest and most cherished traditions. Take a trip down memory lane and discover how the Market came to be. 

1837: Opening of The Market

Andrew and Mary Miller transferred a small piece of land to the President and Board of Police of the Town of Hamilton. This land was to be used for a Market.

1875: The First Photo of Market Square

The first photograph of Market Square looking northwest along York Street.  The picture was taken from the bell tower atop the second Market House and City Hall, which replaced the original 1839 building.

1883: The Market & Old City Hall

The Market place and old City Hall on James Street North.  The main floor of the building was the Market Hall.  City Council met upstairs.  The sheds housed stalls for butchers, dairy and poultry farmers.  Fruit and vegetable growers operated from their wagons.

1895: New City Hall Opens

The new City Hall which opened in 1890 with a year-round open-air Market with farmers rigs’ filling the Market Square.

1893: New Market Hall Built 

The Market Hall, built in 1885 was an astonishing specimen of architecture.  Under the spires and copper-topped dome, meat and eggs, butter and cheese, were on sale all year round.  New steel shelters line one side of the open space and the Market place is still full of farmers’ rigs. 

1920: The Open-Air Market 

When fire consumed the Market Hall at the end of 1917, makeshift shelters were erected, and the open-air market remained busy.  There are still plenty of horse-drawn rigs among the motorized trucks. Looking north (left to right) the Waldorf Hotel, the Savoy Theatre and Hilda’s Cigar Factory.  The open-air Market was considered the largest open-air Market in Canada for the first half of the 20th century.

1929: Permanent Shelters

Permanent shelters were built five years after the fire in 1922.  The new Eaton’s store towers over the small Butter Hall.  Streetcar tracks run along York Street and the horses have gone.

1959: Stall Removals 

The conflict between cars and Market came to a head in the 1950’s.  Three days a week, the Market was a bottleneck in the city’s one-way street system.  Bit by bit the street stalls around the Market were removed.  City Council voted in 1958, after eight years of debate, to clear the Market place and build a parking garage at York and MacNab.  The decision included a promise to preserve the historical nature, essential characteristics and atmosphere of an open-air market. 

1961: The Last Stands 

The stalls lining York & MacNab parking garage were the last stand of the open-air Market. 

1980: Urban Renewal

At the end of the 1960’s, work began on an ambitious urban renewal plan, starting with the demolition of the Victorian city centre shopping area around the Market place.  The result is the mini-city block bounded by King, Bay, York & James with offices, shops, library, cinemas, hotel and arena – all enclosed in a climate-controlled atmosphere.  In the fall of 1980, the Market moved into its new current location sharing a facility with the Hamilton Public Library.

2011: Market Reno

Major renovation in Market including plumbing for all stalls and the installation and restoration of the Birk’s Clock.

2015: Board of Directors

Creation of a community and vendor-based Board of Directors to govern the Market including representation from City of Hamilton Council and Public Health.

2017: The Market Celebrates 180 Years

The Market heads into its 180th year in 2017. With its recent transformation on the exterior walkway on York Blvd & MacNab displaying public artwork exhibit “Raising the Barn.” The Market has become a trendy destination for tourists & shoppers from the Hamilton core.