Planning to go shopping for antiques as part of your Ontario
travel adventure ? A leisurely day of digging through forgotten art,
funky furniture, and quirky collectibles, along with handcrafted items
from the past … now that’s what I call time well spent.
One of the things I love about shopping is the chance to actually handle historic pieces.
This is something that's usually a no-no at the Ontario history museums I visit. Chatting with the vendors is another treat, because many of them can tell you the stories behind the objects they sell, and the stories are almost as interesting as the objects themselves sometimes.
If you're already a devoted collector, rest assured that with all the variety of shops, malls and districts in Ontario, not to mention the big shows that are held annually or semi-annually, you're sure to find plenty of your own particular obsession.
If you're more of a generalist like me then you'll find the hunt just as interesting and rewarding. Ontario's vendors offer a lot of variety partly because Ontario is such a multicultural society. People have come from all over the world to settle in this province, and they've brought with them family heirlooms…many of which wind up eventually in stores. In particular, expect to find lots of treasures from England, Scotland and Britain since so many Ontarians hailed originally from the British isles. Also expect to find plenty of handmade Mennonite pieces since southern Ontario in particular has a substantial Mennonite population.
Ontario cities, towns and rural areas offer great antiquing opportunities. You can buy antique items in individual shops, multi-dealer antique-markets housing anywhere from 10 to more than 200 dealers under one roof, and at special one-or-two day “shows”. You’ll also find that many Ontario cities and towns have “antique districts” where you’ll find several shops a short distance from one another.
Here are a few shopping areas in Ontario to get you started.
Toronto Antiques on King. 284 King Street West. This is a large shop with a wide variety of goods (mostly smaller stuff like glass, ceramics, jewellry, prints, etc) so it's a very efficient way to go shopping. Also, it’s in the entertainment district, close to the Roy Thompson concert hall, live theatres and restaurants so you can easily combine your shopping with some Toronto entertainment as well. www.torontoantiquesonking.com
The Sunday Market at St. Lawrence Market. Opens at 5 a.m. on Sunday. Around 120 vendors. Busy busy! http://sundayantiquemarket.com
Mount Pleasant Street – About a dozen shops between Eglinton and Davisville. Note: these tend to be high-end (pricey) antique items.
Ottawa Antique Market – Explore the offerings of 25 dealers and
10,000 square feet of space under one roof.
This is one of my favourite spots to go antiquing. There are shops scattered along Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Europa, which used to be housed in an old church on Niagara Stone Road, has moved to Vineland. There’s also a large market called Lakeshore Antiques on Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. If you’re in Jordan Ontario check out the Jordan Antiques Centre which has 6,000 square feet of space for its multiple vendors.
Aberfoyle Outdoor Market - A rare, seasonal “outdoor” market. Over 100 dealers show up every Sunday from spring to fall. It’s Canada’s Oldest "outdoor" market. The booths, as you can see below, are covered. Since 1961. http://www.aberfoyle-antiques.com
Barrie Centre – One of Canada’s largest antique malls. http://barrieantiquescentre.ca
Cambridge - Southworks Market has over 30,000 square feet of antiques. I’ve been three times and still haven’t seen everything. Here's an interesting folk-art lamp I saw there the last time. http://www.southworksantiques.com
Freelton Market - With 250 vendors in two buildings you can spend the whole day here shopping. I have! http://www.freeltonantiquemall.com
Hamilton - Ottawa Street is the main antique-district in Hamilton, with about a dozen shops selling everything from vintage to genuine antique goods. Furniture and small goods.
Port Hope – This small town between Toronto and Kingston is a popular spot for shopping. It has one multi-dealer shop with over 50 dealers as well as about 10 other individual shops.
Waterford - The Waterford Market has more 16,000 square feet of space over 2 floors, with multiple independent vendors. It's located in an old Telephone Factory (a fitting location for an antique market!). Waterford is in Norfolk County about an hour and a half drive south of Toronto, heading towards Lake Erie.
Woodstock - The largest mall, One of Kind Mall http://www.oneofakindantiquemall.com, has 500 booths and 75,000 square feet of space.
Happy Shopping! Maybe I'll bump into you in one of these markets some day.
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