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farmers markets

Ultimate Halifax Guide

Live theatre, exciting exhibitions, fun outdoor activities—discover this season’s top destinations to explore in Halifax

By Janice Hudson

For 32 years, the Discovery Centre has been giving kids and adults alike exciting, hands-on opportunities to learn about science, math, engineering, and technology. And now, it’s moved to a new 40,000-square-foot home on the Halifax waterfront. The new site has four themed galleries, an innovation lab, and Atlantic Canada’s only immersive dome theatre.

Discovery Centre. Photo: Mark Dilangelan.

Discovery Centre. Photo: Mark Dilangelan.

Not just a planetarium for exploring outer space, this theatre also lets visitors immerse themselves inside the human body or run like an animal through the jungle. The centre also hosts changing exhibits: The Science of Rock N’ Roll runs until May 14 and opening on May 29 is Tyrannosaurus: Meet the Family. On Wednesday evenings from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., admission is free.

Spring weekends in Halifax are the perfect time to discover Nova Scotia’s fresh produce, tasty baked goods, local artwork, and cool souvenirs. More than 250 vendors from across the province showcase their goods over two levels at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Marginal Road.

A few minutes’ walk up Lower Water Street takes you to the Historic Farmers’ Market in the Alexander Keith’s Brewery building. Find vendors and live entertainment in the main courtyard or tucked away in the maze of wings and hallways in this historic facility. You’ll find it less crowded than the Seaport, but equally fun to explore.

Historic Farmers’ Market

Historic Farmers’ Market

Heading north on Windsor Street is the Halifax Forum, home to one of the city’s newest farmers’ markets. More than 50 vendors take over the facility’s bingo hall each Saturday morning for the Halifax Forum Farmers’ Market. Find local farmers selling produce right off their trucks in the parking lot.

Across the harbour in Dartmouth, just steps from the Halifax Transit ferry terminal, you’ll find the Alderney Landing Farmers’ Market. It has live entertainment on its main stage on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Outside, find flower and plant vendors aplenty during the spring months.

Eastern Front Theatre’s 2017 Stages Theatre Festival presents 15 shows and events from May 15 to 27. The schedule includes new plays, workshops, theatre for families, and world premieres held at venues across the city. The festival highlights work from Nova Scotia’s top professional theatre companies at different stages of development, from workshops and play readings to full productions. Highlights include The West Woods by Mulgrave Road Theatre on May 16 to 19, and Treegirl by Forerunner Theatre on May 19 to 21.

Stages Theatre Festival

Stages Theatre Festival

Spanning six hectares in the middle of the city, the Halifax Public Gardens is one of North America’s finest formal Victorian gardens, with dramatic flower displays, weeping and flowering trees, fountains, and foliage plants. This year, it’s celebrating its 150th anniversary with events and activities happening daily during the season. This month, watch for the Victorian Tea Party at the Lord Nelson Hotel on May 22 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It’s an afternoon of English tea, with music by Symphony Nova Scotia and Hausmusik. On May 27, there’s a poetry reading in the gardens from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each Sunday afternoon starting June 11, drop by the Victorian bandstand for free concerts featuring local musicians.

Halifax Public Gardens

Halifax Public Gardens

To celebrate Canada’s 150th year since confederation, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 presents Canada: Day 1, a travelling exhibition that showcases 150 years of immigrants’ “day one” experiences. View distinctive artworks and compelling objects, such as a Syrian welcome kit, a head-tax certificate, moving War Bride correspondence, and more.

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21

One of Canada’s most visited National Historic Sites, the Halifax Citadel was the fourth in a series of forts since 1749 to occupy the hill overlooking the harbour. Check out the Army Museum on-site for more military artefacts and history. In 2017, all National Historic Sites are offering free admission with a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, available online at pc.gc.ca.

Just in time for Canada 150, Novascotian Crystal has expanded its Canadian spirit line of handcrafted crystal, featuring a maple leaf design. It’s now available in whiskey tumblers, water glasses, brandy snifters, shot glasses, and more. Stop by the workshop at the foot of George Street on the Halifax waterfront and watch the craftspeople create these mouth-blown masterpieces using age-old techniques.

With warmer temperatures now the norm, there’s plenty of outdoor activities on offer across the city. On the tip of Halifax’s South End, Point Pleasant Park boasts 39 kilometres of roads and trails that wind through forest and past rocky hills, ravines, and military ruins, including the Prince of Wales Tower National Historic Site. The park also hosts alfresco theatre group, Shakespeare by the Sea, during the summer.

Heading west past the Armdale Rotary on Purcell’s Cove Road is Sir Sanford Fleming Park. This 38-hectare space has walking trails through forest, saltwater marsh, and a large pond (Frog Pond). Climb up Dingle Memorial Tower, the 10-storey Italianate landmark built in the early 1900s. Kids will love the new playground on-site, Halifax’s first all-natural play space made of hand-carved tree trunks. They can climb up the mesh and log tower that mirrors Dingle Tower.

Across the harbour in Dartmouth, Shubie Park is a 16-hectare greenway bounded by Lake Charles to the north and Lake Micmac to the south. Trails meander from deep forest to sunny lakeside along the historic route of the Shubenacadie Canal, offering beautiful scenery and quiet areas to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Shubie Park

Shubie Park

No trip to Halifax is complete without visiting Peggy’s Cove, the fishing village just a 45-minute drive west from Halifax. Its iconic lighthouse is the most photographed site in Nova Scotia. Fifty minutes east of Halifax is Memory Lane Heritage Village in Lake Charlotte, a living history museum that recreates life in a 1940s Nova Scotian coastal village. Tour the 18 restored buildings and tuck into a lunch of baked beans and brown bread at the on-site cookhouse.

Memory Lane Heritage Village

Memory Lane Heritage Village




Muskoka Farmers’ Markets for 2013

Muskoka's farmers' markets offer an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and more (photo: a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rheaney/4623200857">Ryan Heaney)

Muskoka’s farmers’ markets offer an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and more (photo: Ryan Heaney)

Whether you’re heading up to the cottage for a summer getaway or just visiting for the day (or even if you live in the region all year long), one of the best ways to get a little local flavour is to attend one of the many Muskoka farmers’ markets. Be sure to visit these weekly gatherings for the best of nature’s bounty!


Weekend Roundup: September 21 to 23

Friday: Tom Cochrane is one of many performers rocking the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival.

Friday, September 21st
Celebrate this country’s cultural icons as part of the annual Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, which showcases popular Canadian performers at venues throughout the city, including a number of free concerts at Nathan Phillips Square. Dance the night away to Suzie McNeil, Tom Cochrane and Jann Arden, just some of the homegrown talent that will be gracing the stage.

Canadian sculptor Evan Penny’s new exhibition of meticulously rendered yet distorted human sculptures opened this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Titled Re Figured, the display will alter your perspective of the human form with 30 pieces, including sculptures, photographs and a film about Penny’s work over the past decade.

Toronto’s famed jazz venue, The Rex, holds its annual tribute to John Coltrane this weekend. Juno-winning saxophone players Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald—alongside the rest of their highly capable quintet—take the stage tonight to honour the celebrated musician. (more…)

Weekly Planner: June 4 to 10

Pick a pepper (and other fresh produce) at Muskoka's farmers' markets

Our guide to cottage-country events and activities has returned for another summer! Check back every Monday for more timely ideas for family fun.

Support Ontario growers and get some fresh ingredients for this week’s breakfasts, lunches and dinners at a pair of farmers’ markets that are now in full swing. This Wednesday (and all subsequent Wednesday throughout the summer) the Gravenhurst Farmers’ Market operates from from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Muskoka Wharf, while the Bracebridge Farmers’ Market runs on Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Memorial Park.

Stretch out on a blanket at Bracebridge’s Memorial Park bandshell and listen to the acoustic folk sounds of Neil Hutchison. Influenced by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot and Ian Tyson, Hutchison takes the stage this Thursday at 7 p.m.

Grab your motorcycle boots and leather jacket and head on down to the Kee to Bala. Blues singer and guitarist George Thorogood—with his longtime band, The Destroyers—rocks the joint on Saturday, with hits like “Bad to the Bone” and more.

Drive around the region this Saturday and Sunday and take in not only the exceptional natural scenery, but also some great artistic visuals. This year’s Muskoka Lakes Spring Art Tour allows you to visit the studios of 11 top cottage-country artists in Bracebridge, Bala, Port Carling and elsewhere.

The local food movement just keeps creeping ever closer to home; one of the latest trends is to keep a chicken or two right in your own backyard (depending on municipal bylaws, of course). If you’re interested in learning more, regional culinary association Savour Muskoka hosts a poultry workshop on Sunday at Severn Sunset Eco Farm in Severn Bridge, where participants will find out some of the ins and outs of working with chickens, ducks and turkeys.



Staff Picks: 5 Farmers’ Markets to Fill You Up

Evergreen Brick Works farmers' market (photo by Paul Henman)

To local-food movement is now thoroughly entrenched in our fair city, with professional and home chefs alike seeking out the best Ontario-grown ingredients. Farmers’ markets taking place throughout Toronto are, of course, a great place to pick up fresh produce. They also offer opportunities to take in some real neighbourhood flavour. Read on to discover our five favourites! (more…)

Markets, Lakes and Gorges: Guelph to Southampton, Ontario

The Southampton shore. (Photo by Alistair Edmondson)

By Meghan Wilson-Smith

Fall driving in southwestern Ontario means landscapes of lush, ready-to-be-harvested fields of rich yellows, oranges and greens, and sunny skies dimpled with heavy wet clouds whisked by on a breeze just cool enough to bring out the wools. Air-conditioning off, windows open, and nothing but the splendor of the great Canadian north in your windshield.

Start: Guelph
End: Southampton
Overnight: Southampton

Get the map.


1. Guelph is already a pretty special town, a vibrant city core with a popular farmers’ market on Saturdays. It retains many small town values while delivering on big city comforts. It’s also a great take-off point to some of the quaintest of towns en route to beautiful Lake Huron.

2. Just a half-hour outside of Guelph, the town of Elora and the stunning Elora gorge are musts. Heading north on Highway 6 you’ll see a small sign for the Fergus and Mount Forest to the north or Elora to the west. Bend west a bit and head straight to Elora. The town is mostly made of limestone, as if it were an extension of the gorge it sits on. It has lovely shops and great hiking. (25 km)


Hot Shopping: Grown Here

Photo: Lisa Enman

The Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market may be North America’s oldest farmers’ market but the digs are state-of-the-art. The market recently moved to a new home on the waterfront on Marginal Road. Now open Wednesday and Friday to Sunday, it showcases crafts, cuisine and produce from across the province.

To Market, To Market

A new wave  of farmers’ markets gives locals and visitors more choice and amenities.

By Dan Leahul

In an era of self-checkout grocery tills and the genetically modified dinner, thousands of Calgarians are breaking the mold, eagerly seeking out the faces, and often, the smiles, of those growing their food at their local farmers’ markets.

“Farmers’ markets give people a direct connection with the land, and an even greater connection to the people growing the vegetables and raising the animals,” says John Gilchrist, Calgary food critic and avid farmers’ market supporter. “For city dwellers, that connection to the earth can be tremendous.”

And the city dwellers have responded by creating high demand—two year-round indoor farmers’ markets have opened in less than a year. Plus, there’s a slew of established outdoor markets open seasonally.

Alberta’s significant agriculture industry is often overshadowed by big-business oil, and it can be difficult to peer into our history as farmers and cattlemen where as a culture, our seeds were literally sewn.

“We’re traditionally a farming province—we see the fields and the barns all around us, but we can’t just walk up to the barn and ask to meet the cows,” says Gilchrist. “That’s where farmers’ markets come in. I love meeting the people, and being a farm-boy myself, it’s important to show the farmers that we support them.”

Pay a visit to one of Calgary’s two indoor farmers’ markets or the Crossroads Market—if the noise level doesn’t immediately paint the picture, browse around for a while and it’ll soon become clear that people aren’t just here to shop.

“When you look back in history, everyone went to the market to get their produce and meet their neighbours, and people are just aching for that in the city these days,” says Ken Aylesworth, general manager of the Calgary’s Farmers’ Market (CFM), which in April moved into its swank new 65,000-square-foot digs in the city’s southeast (510 – 77 Ave SE, Thur to Sun).

A number of Calgarians were dismayed to learn about the closure of the CFM in its old Currie Barracks location last December. The market had literally grown too big for its britches, both in terms of size and ambitions. Before the ground had been broken on its new Blackfoot and Heritage location, Aylesworth and his team were at the drawing board, busily recreating the idea of just what a farmers’ market could be.

Despite some delays in construction and funding, the new CFM was well worth the wait. The facility itself is simply stunning. Overhead an ornate trellis system mimics a canopy of trees. In the food court, walls were knocked down to give a wide-open barn feel, while a 45-foot-high ceiling and expansive dormers allow natural light to pour in. The centrepiece is a giant fireplace, which encourages visitors to sit down and meet their neighbours.

There’s also a dedicated place for families, including one of the largest kids play areas in the city. As well, they’ve built a raised stage area to host cooking presentations and educational seminars.

Aylesworth is particularly proud of the market’s “farm gate” concept—a general store in the middle of the market, owned and operated by the CFM, that works with and buys organic wholesale from local producers who don’t have the ability to participate in the year-round market.

“So you can come in and get the little guy that sells his sausage in Rocky Mountain House at his gate and that’s the only place he sells it,” he says. The project advisor is Scott Pohorelic, former head chef at the River Café.

As far as food goes, the CFM has added 20 new vendors to the new location, some of which may be familiar to Calgarians. The Main Dish, a popular deli-style eatery run by Jason Zaran in the Bridgeland neighbourhood, has opened a marquee space in the market. Another famous name to Calgary, Dominique Moussu, will run an  offshoot of his popular French deli L’Epicerie.

The Calgary Farmers’ Market isn’t the only rodeo in town, the Kingsland Farmers’ Market opened the doors to its brand new indoor location on Macleod Trail last December (7711 Macleod Tr S, Thur to Sun).

Run by a former CFM vendor, Tim Hoven of Hoven Farms Organic Beef, the Kingsland Market is warm and welcoming with a constant hum of activity around the vendors. Bright produce pops with colour and the beautiful aromas of freshly baked bread, curries and even cookies lilt in the air.

Some of the anchor vendors include Lund’s Organic Farm, which sells crunchy, deliciously sweet carrots, and Broxburn Vegetables, which has Calgarians salivating at the thought of tomato season each year.

There’s also the Sugar Pie Bakery, run by Sarah Schaus who makes the wildly popular “pie on a stick,” in a variety of sweet and savoury flavours. Kingsland also boasts Calgary’s only Indonesian eatery, Kaffir Lime Indonesian Grill, which sells a number of curry style dishes and also offers takeaway curry packs so you can recreate their recipes at home. And of course, there’s Hoven’s organic beef, serving up some of Alberta’s tenderest steaks. Although the Kingsland Market is small, that’s how Hoven likes it.

“It’s not a big, empty warehouse, it’s a thriving marketplace with a community feel,” he says. “So far the reception has been phenomenal.”

Calgarians take a lot of pride in finding their “own” little source of fine cheese, vine-ripened peppers or French baked goods—and they can be fiercely loyal.

Just look at the Crossroads Market, which has been in business for more than 20 years. Located in a 100,000-square-foot historic building in Inglewood, the market is a labyrinth of twists and turns, with pleasant surprises around every corner. The indoor market is a perfect place to spend a Saturday afternoon sampling Ukrainian poppy seed rolls, and browsing through the flea market’s used books, records, toys, as well as handmade jewellery, moccasians and artwork from the vendors that have come from the far corners of the world.

“What makes Crossroads so unique is not only the diverseness of products, but also the multicultural aspect of the people involved,” says Matthew McDonald, manager at Crossroads Market. “We support people from many different nationalities by providing a facility where they can promote their business, sell their wares, and as well, share their stories.”

Of course, Calgary’s farmers’ markets are selling food—a vast, eclectic and delicious variety of it (just try and leave on an empty stomach). But it’s the stories, and the people, and inevitably, the smiles, that keep Calgarians coming back, week after week.