Explore the ByWard Market in Ottawa, ON


At Jim Tubman Chevrolet, we love to celebrate our beautiful Ottawa — whether by providing our community with auto-related services or highlighting local places and activities you can get involved in to make life more enjoyable. In today's post, we're doing the latter, as we're discussing one of Canada's oldest and largest markets, the ByWard Market.

Read on to learn more about this market's rich history, how the market works, and what you can look forward to when you visit.


History of the ByWard Market

In 1826, Lieutenant-Colonel John By, the renowned builder of the Rideau Canal, designed the street plan for the market, widening the George and York streets so that horse-drawn carriages could fit and transport foodstuff every day. He initially created it as a place where farmers, craft merchants, and vendors could sell their products, but it has now grown into a neighbourhood of indoor and outdoor entertainment, shopping, and dining.

An average of 50,000 people visit the ByWard Market each weekend during the summer months, and it's one of the city's most frequently visited places. Here you'll find over 600 businesses, including patisseries, restaurants, cafes and market stalls. You can also enjoy live music and special events. We can only describe it as a bustling place full of life and entertaining options from dawn to dusk in the heart of downtown Ottawa.


Things To Do at the ByWard Market

As Canada's largest market, it's safe to say that you'll need more than a day to explore it all. But there are a few spots we think you should check out ASAP. Start by walking around the district to marvel at the architecture that contributed to the market's advancement — including the U.S. Embassy and the Connaught Building on Sussex Drive.

You can then visit the giant Ottawa sign, once part of the Inspiration Village that was created in 2017 to commemorate Canada's 150th anniversary. This village featured artistic installations made of sea containers, but it was the sign that gained the most attention on Instagram, so it's now a permanent landmark.

If you've ever dreamed of going to Hogwarts, a hidden gem in the ByWard Market resembles the castle. We're talking, of course, about the Former Geological Survey of Canada Building. After touring it, if you'd like a more open space surrounded by nature, head over to Major's Hill Park and enjoy the peaceful view of the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal, as well as the lovely gardens and winding paths.

Please note that the ByWard Market has ambassadors — students that ensure the public has a positive experience at the market. They are there to help you navigate and enjoy the market, so if you don't feel confident going somewhere alone, you can request them to go with you. Or, if you have questions or want some advice on your purchases, you can ask them. Ambassadors are available from May to Labor Day. To recognize them, look for their bright yellow shirts.


Food and Drink

If there's a place that has something for any taste and occasion, it's the ByWard Market. It has everything, including cappuccinos, late-night kababs, breakfast burritos, and artisan bread. For a better eating experience, go early on an empty stomach and eat your way around the market.

For breakfast, visit one of the gorgeous patisseries or cafes nearby. And depending on whether you have a sweet or salty tooth, you can order a traditional Montreal-style bagel, a Mexican churro, or a delicious and filling smoothie from Pure Power Juice Bar. If you want a little treat in the morning, start with a French macaron, a classic Canadian Beavertail, or a red velvet cupcake. And if you're craving ice cream, Mantovani 1946, Amore Gelato, and Piccolo Grande Artisan Gelateria make authentic gelatos.

For freshly baked artisan bread, French pastries, and bistro fare, go to Le Moulin de Provence, a local favourite. For lunch or dinner, 98 La La Noodle is the perfect spot for delicious Chinese noodles, while The Senate is a restaurant with a daily burger special you may want to try. Or stop at Sidedoor, a beloved Chinese-inspired eatery with loyal customers, or Social Restaurant + Lounge, a restaurant with a modern twist on Canadian and French cuisine. For wine lovers, Play Food & Wine has all the delicious food plus a wide selection of wines for you to try.

If drinks are all you crave, Atari Garden encourages you to get creative with cocktails and try as many unusual combinations as you can. Lowertown Brewery offers pre-prohibition beverages, while the Chateau Lafayette is the perfect place to go back in time and enjoy a drink at a spot that's been around for over 167 years. For the ultimate experience, try one of ByWard Market's guided walking foodie tours.



For unique custom and signature jewelry, visit Disegno or AJ Horton Goldsmith. If you're after fashion pieces, stop by the Quichua World Market or Adorit Boutique or visit Kaliyana. Try l'HEXAGONE for suits, tuxedos, and casual menswear, and Sukhoo Sukhoo for stunning gowns. Schad Boutique has all the upscale accessories you need, while the Milk Shop features an eclectic collection you don't want to miss.

It's a challenging task to list all the places you can shop at in the ByWard Market, so we recommend taking a guided tour or exploring them all yourself.


Places To Stay

If you're after an upscale and contemporary place to stay, book a suite at Andaz Ottawa or Copper Spirits & Sights Lounge. Other accommodation options include Le Germain Hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, The Westin Ottawa, and Les Suites Hotel.

So, there you have it, a fascinating guide to the ByWard market — we hope you'll love it as much as we do. At Jim Tubman Chevrolet, we're committed to helping and contributing to improving our community in every way possible. If you're ever in need of a reliable dealership, please get in touch with a member of our team.


ByWard Market, Ottawa by Bonnie Dean is licensed with CC BY 2.0

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