Photo and story by Amy Vervoort
The sky turns an azure blue
over the lake as the evening
sun sets itself behind me over
the Port Arthur ridge. There
is a warm glow on St. Joseph's
Hospital with the last of the
day's sunlight gleaming off the
windows. Here, tucked in be-
hind Jean Street and overlook-
ing the Port Arthur waterfront
grows one of Thunder Bay's
community gardens. Bordered
by downtown backyards to the
south, the stretch of garden
plots run parallel to the east
side of the back lane; beyond
it new trees turn a once vacant
city lot into parkland.
This is the Saint John
Street Beautification Project
Community Garden, which
is more than a mouthful of
words. Rows of potatoes and
tomatoes, onions and squash
plants, cabbages, and lettuc-
es are planted to inspire the
kitchen gardener. The garden
provides space for ten families,
and is currently undergoing
expansion to include sixteen.
Built as a structure of con-
nected raised beds the garden,
now in its third year, boasts an
incredible amount of growing
space. Urban gardening is all
about using space wisely and
raised beds and containers are
great ways to use spaces more
effectively. With deep, rich,
loamy soil vegetable plants
here thrive in the warmth on
the hill; each plot receiving
ample sunlight from morn-
ing to evening. After tending
to their beds gardeners can
be found taking it all in from
one of the park benches in the
The Saint John Street
Beautification Project began
in 2005 with Karen Saunders
and some motivated com-
munity volunteers along with
the help of local businesses.
`Tis the season of abundance. In
summer, thoughts turn to crisp greens,
juicy red berries and all the other de-
lights that crop up during a season of
farm and garden harvesting. Local pro-
duce is available from a number of dif-
ferent sources, and market shopping in
Thunder Bay is a scenic, satisfying and
all-local one-stop shopping experience.
Though fresh produce features heavily
at the market this time of year, many
markets offer a multi-season experience
thanks to the talents of bakers, cooks
and crafters. Without further ado, here
is a quick survey of some central and
neighbourhood markets in full swing
Thunder Bay Country Market
The biggest and most central mar-
ket, the Thunder Bay Country Market
is host to 40 vendors that make, bake
or grow their offerings. This market
bustles with life twice a week. It serves
as both a meeting place and a chance
to fill your basket with local goodness.
Customers come for coffee (locally
roasted!), cheese, fresh produce, fish,
meat and eggs. There's a cozy corner for
a sit-down breakfast, and some yummy
takeout options for lunch or supper.
Interspersed with all that food are stalls
offering skin and baby care products,
as well as crocheted, knitted and sewn
items for your family and pets. Many
shoppers come every week and make
sure they arrive first thing in the morn-
ing before all the popular vegetables are
sold out. The market runs most of the
year and is at its peak right now.
Find it at the CLE Dove Building,
Saturdays, 8 a.m. 1 p.m. and
Wednesdays, 3:30 p.m. 7 p.m.
Thunder Bay Farmer's Market
The Thunder Bay Farmer's Market
exists as several small neighbourhood
markets. Offering mostly produce,
flowers and bedding plants, these mar-
kets ebb and flow along with the grow-
ing season. Currently, vendors can
be found at Wilson Street Park and at
Victoriaville. Incidentally, the Wilson
Street Park site has hosted a market off
and on since the 1940's. The building
at the park shelters just a few loyal ven-
dors now, but was erected specifically
as a market venue at a time when the
Wilson Street Market was the big mar-
ket in Port Arthur. As the season pro-
gresses, there is an "overflow" market at
Find them at Wilson St. Park,
Saturdays, 9:30-11:30 a.m., at
Victoriaville, Fridays, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
and at Westminster Church later in the
summer, Saturday afternoons.
Bay Street Market
The Bay Street Market opened in
2009, and is a lovely complement to
the Bay and Algoma shopping experi-
ence. You can stock your larder here
with fresh bread, cheese, eggs, home
cooking, local produce, and jams and
jellies. Soap, jewelry and other hand-
made delights are showcased here as
well, all in a cheerful, colourful space
just down the street from the Hoito.
Find it at 270 Bay Street,
Saturdays, 9 a.m. 3.pm
Empire Avenue Market
This Westfort neighbourhood mar-
ket is new this summer. The Westfort
Community Centre is a charming
venue for this growing market. There
are currently 12 crafters, artisans, grow-
ers and local businesses showcasing
their products and produce. Starting
mid-July, one vendor will feature their
wares each week with a demonstration.
Treats for your appetite, your skin, and
your pets abound.
Find it at the Westfort Community
Centre, 397 Empire Ave,
Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 12 noon.
True North Community
Also new this summer, True North
Community Co-Operative is a non-
profit community co-operative selling
local food and other regionally pro-
duced goods in order to improve the
resilience of our
community through a strong local food
system. Food items range from boar to
Individual, Producer and Commercial
Memberships are available.
Find it at the Natural Habit Store,
279 Bay Street ,
Monday Friday, 10 a.m. 5:30 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m -5:00 pm.
Off the beaten path:
ing, produce and home business spe-
cials. Blake Hall, Hwy 61, Thursday 4
South Gillies Market.
meat and meat products, eggs, baking,
art and photos. Outdoors, therefore
weather dependent. Gillies Community
Centre (Corner of Hwys 595 and
608),Tuesdays 5-7 p.m.
Development continued into
the summer of 2006, and in
2008 the community garden
was added. Scott Pound is the
man behind the spade.
As for his motivation to ini-
tiate the community garden, it
was "a combination of self-in-
terest and community spirit. I
love gardening and I especially
love to see gardens spring up
in public places; this project
allowed me to indulge myself
and create a place where peo-
ple could come together, grow
some food, make the neigh-
bourhood a more interesting,
vibrant place," says Pound. He
and his son, Euan (age 8), are
caretakers of this expanding
garden space, where they grow
eggplants in buckets, and basil
in small half barrels between
The urban agriculture move-
ment is growing vigorously
across our city giving back
lanes and vacant lots new life.
Curious neighbours watch as
people stroll down streets car-
rying water cans in one direc-
tion, returning shortly after
with an arm load of fresh pro-
duce. Before long people ask
questions, become inspired,
and get involved.
For more informa-
tion about the Saint John
Street Beautification Project
Community Garden Scott can
be contacted by email at scott.
Market Shopping/Market Hopping
By Marlene Wandel
Open Air Marketplace.
Handmade and home grown.
Nipigon Town Hall Court
Yard. Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.