The Cambridge Farmers' Market was established in 1830 (perhaps even earlier) and continues to be an important part of our community.

About the original market

While the original location and date of its opening is still a mystery, the Market's history along the east bank of the Grand River is clear. In the 1830s, the east bank was the place to do business in the Township of Galt (now part of the City of Cambridge). The area included the Township's general store, taverns, mills and the village market.

In May 1836, the town's founder, William Dickson, developed a plan to establish the town centre of Galt on the west bank of the Grand River, in the area around what is now Queen's Square. His plan included an area called the Market Place. Unfortunately, Dickson's plan did not succeed as the villagers already felt that their town centre was well established on the east bank and there was no reason to move it.

Moving the market

In North America and in many parts of Europe, markets are usually located close to the local government site. After 1838, the Township of Galt's local government would have been in or near the Township Hall, which was located on the present site of Cambridge's City Hall.

At first, the vegetable market was held completely in the open while the meat market was located in the Township Hall. In 1856, the Township's public school was converted into the vegetable and poultry building, east of the Township Hall.

In 1858, Galt's Town Hall was designated the Town Hall and Market House. The bottom floor of the new building was set aside to house the village's butchers and the village meat market.

In the 1880s, the vegetable and poultry market moved to today's Farmers' Market location at Dickson and Ainslie streets - property purchased by the Town. The vegetable market and poultry market moved into the new building immediately, while the meat market stayed in the Town Hall, probably until 1896 when a two-storey section was added to the vegetable and poultry market building.

About the current Farmers' Market

The current Farmers' Market includes two separate buildings built at different times. The one-storey structure was built in 1887 by mason William Fulton under the supervision of William Graham. The two-storey structure was built in 1896, designed by local architect Fred Mellish. The two-storey building was built by mason, W. Edmonds and carpenters, W. and F. A. Scott.

The upper floor of the two-storey building housed the Galt Public Library until 1905. Starting in 1907, the upper floor served as rehearsal rooms for The Galt Kiltie Band. The Galt Kiwanis Youth Band also used the rooms for rehearsal from 1949 to 1972. The rooms were converted into municipal offices in 1978.

Over the years the market buildings have suffered from daily wear and tear, the effects of road salt and the effects of flood. The 1974 flood caused $35,000 in damages and closed the interior of the market from May to the end of August.

The most recent major renovations of the buildings occurred in 1992. New structural steel beams and columns were added to the interior of the buildings to ensure that they would remain standing for many years to come. The market building was designated as a heritage structure in July 1984, under the Ontario Heritage Act.