The Farmers’ Market Trail in Waterloo is a game-changer in terms of both access to the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market and for active Ontarians looking to make the most of their time in the region.
Recently we had the chance to head back to Waterloo, an opportunity we always cherish here at Ultimate Ontario. We visited some of Waterloo’s breweries, and we also caught a show at the wonderful St. Jacobs Country Playhouse, but a major focus of ours was to see how the long anticipated Farmers’ Market Trail was coming together.
In short, it has come together beautifully.
First and foremost, for cyclists, walkers and those who like to be outdoors, this is a major addition, and one that is sure to transform how people engage with the area recreationally (both locals and visitors alike).
The major thing to note here is that this project now makes it possible to travel from Kitchener-Waterloo to the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market without having to take a car.
A Brief History of the Farmers’ Market Trail
The recent completion of Stage 1 and Stage 2 of this project is big news in Ontario tourism, especially since this project has been in the works for quite some time. Engage Waterloo notes:
“Since 2016, the city and region of Waterloo have worked together to realign ‘The Great Trail’ (formerly the Trans Canada Trail) between Research and Technology Park in Waterloo and the St. Jacob’s Farmers Market in Woolwich.”
Stage 2 of this project focuses on ” a multi-use trail along Parkside Drive which extends from the Research and Technology ION Station and existing Laurel Trail to Northfield Drive, where it connects to Stage 1, which continues to the Farmers Market.”
The trail, generally speaking, follows the LRT and railway lines, and offers paved paths that are especially attractive to cyclists, especially considering the Farmers’ Market Trail now officially connects with the city’s well established and beloved Laurel Trail.
When we visited, they were putting the finishing touches on pedestrian-level lighting, clear and colourful signage, and painted lines that put the emphasis on pedestrian safety. We had the chance to talk to a handful of people on many sides of this project, and it’s safe to say that the goals of the Farmers’ Market Trail were ambitious to say the least, but they’re very much coming to fruition.
The Farmers’ Market Trail Now
Recently, Megan Malcolmson, Market Manager at the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market summed things up perfectly when telling CTV News:
“This will have Waterloo Region connected full circle essentially. Everyone can access it, whether you have a car, a bike, or a skateboard.”
The recent completion of Stage 2 is what encouraged us to throw our bike in the car and head on out here. With the way in which the Farmers’ Market Trail connects to the existing trail infrastructure (including the Laurel Trail and Iron Horse Trail), we were able to ride for tens of kilometres at a time, and to stay largely in nature, despite being so close to some thriving city centres.
Unparalleled Access to the Famed St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market
There’s a reason this new trail is called the Farmers’ Market Trail, and that’s because of the way in which it should enable residents and nearby Ontarians to reach the market on whim on the seat of the bike, with a good pair of shoes, of a flashy pair of rollerblades.
For those unfamiliar, the St. Jacobs’ Farmers Market is a farmers’ market that’s located in Woolwich, Ontario. It’s located just west of the railway tracks, and that means it’s also located right beside this newly constructed Farmers’ Market Trail.
The St. Jacobs’ Farmers Market is the largest year-round farmers’ market in all of Canada. On a regular year, this is a tourist beacon that is drawing about a million visitors annually from all over the province, the country, and the world.
It was initially built in April of 1975 but, sadly, it experienced a major setback due to a fire in 2013. In much the same tenacity as it took to establish this trail, the market was rebuilt and reopened just two years later. The Market District consists of three major sites – the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market (open Tuesdays from June 14th to August 30th and Thursdays and Sundays year-round), Market Road Antiques (open 7 days a week), and the St. Jacobs Outlet Mall (also open 7 days a week).
At the Farmers’ Market you’ll find over 250 vendors offering everything from fresh fruit to international cuisine, and home decor to artisan goods.
In our humble opinion, visiting the St. Jacobs Farmers Market is a bucket-list style item in the world of Ontario travel, and one that has to be experienced at some point or another. And now, you can experience it in a whole new way that we couldn’t be more excited about.
We want to humbly thank Waterloo Region for hosting us as media. All opinions are completely our own.
Christopher Mitchell is the Cofounder of Ultimate Ontario. He’s visited over 80 countries, and has lived on 4 continents, but now has his eyes set squarely on exploring this incredible province, and helping others do the same.