Saturday Market Day - A Ste-Anne Tradition
The Market is not just a place of commerce though; it’s also a meeting place. It’s a place where consumers can connect with the producers who grow or make their food; it’s a place where artists and musicians converge to entertain appreciative audiences; it’s a place where young and old, families and individuals gather over a cup of coffee to keep abreast of the latest news. It’s also a place of celebration - when food festivals and exciting events like Ecology Day enliven the seasonal calendar.
How it all began
The tradition of holding a local market is not particularly unique, yet the Ste. Anne’s Farmer’s Market could be called a pioneer. Prior to its startup, most of the produce in the large Montreal markets came from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. However, McGill researcher Bano Mahdi had an idea – to start a market that was truly local, and friendly. So, the new venture was slated to bring farmers in contact with their customers who sought local and organically raised foodstuffs.
In May of 2001, Bano Mahdi and Olivier Dubreuil presented an official proposal to the city of Ste. Anne`s. The ''Committee of Economic Development and Tourism'' saw the potential of the venture, and by mid-June, 2001, the Ste-Anne’s Market opened its doors, or rather its tents. That first year, six local farmers including Elwood Quinn, William Golding, Jean Fournel, Alison Hackney, Loise Ecuyer signed on to be present every Saturday.
But the challenge had only just begun. Tents had to be purchased, large sandwich boards created, and banners designed to keep the weekly market visible. A core group of staunch volunteers helmed by Bano, Olivier and Caroline Begg shouldered the initial grunt work and kept the torch alight. After several location changes as the Market grew, it is now nestled comfortably along the waterfront parking lot at the foot of St. Pierre Street, corner of Ste-Anne’s. Had it not been for the City of Ste. Anne’s continued support and that of a burgeoning group of passionate volunteers, the Market may not have grown to the gem it is today.
The Market now has more than 30 merchants every Saturday during the busy outdoor season, with happy crowds averaging 400 with even more during our food festivals.
Festivals Mean Food, Friends and Fun.
Every year, on the 4th weekend in August, we welcome over 3,000 people to our Garlic Festival – now in its 8th year. Dan Brisebois, one of the organic farmers who run Ferme Cooperative Tourne-sol, a veteran vendor at the Market, has discovered a keen interest by locals in organic garlic. Dan’s rationale for launching the first garlic fest 7 years ago was partly enthusiastic (he’s mad about the bulb, and wants to share his zeal) and partly good business. The Ste-Anne’s Garlic Festival draws crowds by offering an abundance of the ‘cream of the crop’ for purchase; a lot of entertaining and informative LIVE workshops with guest experts; and a variety of other food-based entertainment – like the Garlic Dessert Cooking Challenge. In 2013, over 3,500 people converged at the waterfront for this one day event.
With evidence of a population eager for quality local foods and information, Marche Ste- Anne has launched other annual food celebrations like: Honey Fest in early June corresponding with National Pollinator Week; BBQ Day in July; Tomato Day in August; Ecology Day in September; and the Chili Fest (with a Chili Cook-off) in mid-September.
The Market Is Open All Year Long
Due to the incredible popularity of the Summer/Fall Market we sought a winter home, and the community hall of St. George`s Church on Rue St. Georges (corner Perrault) was a good fit. You can do your weekly shopping while listening to local musicians, meeting friends and neighbours for breakfast, as well as celebrating the many different events and holidays. An institution, this bubbling Saturday morning hangout, is one of Ste-Anne’s best kept secrets. But, perhaps not for long, as the Free Saturday 1 hour workshops on all manner of local food topics like “Making Kimchi” or Cooking with Duck” has garnered interest from local media. (see Events Calendar for details)
A Fair Turn of Events
The Ste-Anne's Market became a proud member of The Association of Public Markets of Quebec (AMPQ) in 2009, a group that helped define and support us. Since its creation, several other community initiatives have come to be, such as the Coop Grande Orme in the historic Simon Fraser stone house. The Market was key in placing Ste. Anne's on the list of ''Fair Trade Certified'' municipalities, the third location in the province to boast that prestigious designation.
Marché Ste-Anne will not rest on its laurels. We look forward to a promising future providing quality local and organic foodstuffs directly from the growers to your table. And we will continue bringing you exciting events that embody our mission, while making food fun.
The Ste-Anne Farmer’s Market is the longest running public market on Montreal’s West Island. We are dedicated to local, ecological food and agriculture. All artisans and producers come from our region and many are certified organic.