Where Has the Market Gone?

Some massive confusion may exist over what is happening over at The Hudson. James and I have been talking about it between ourselves for the past two months, but on August 15th I finally found out. I’m not always downtown to observe what’s happening. The Times Colonist article has put to rest that detail: the official grand opening is on Sept 14th, 10am, “with Victoria’s poet laureate Janet Rogers, as well as drumming, cooking demonstrations by chefs at the community kitchen, children’s activities and music throughout the day,” said Philippe Lucas, chairman of the Victoria Downtown Public Market Society.

He confirms that The French Oven, Silk Road Tea, Salt Spring Island Cheese, La Cocina de Mama Oli, Island Spice Trade, Roast, Victoria Pie Co., Cowichan Bay Seafood, Sutra (an offshoot of the popular Vij’s restaurant group in Vancouver), Damn Fine Cake Co. and il Dolce Gelato will be amongst the dozen or so confirmed vendors to take up permanent residence.

The market will be open between 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and on Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be closed Monday.

Recently, the pint-sized Farmers Market–the teaser–was not what I was expecting. Most of the vendors were located outside, behind the old Hudson’s Bay building, selling their wares. The variety is good, but I felt it was nothing spectacular. It feels small, and I had wonder just how well will this market will run when everyone moves inside.

I was very curious in what the delay was. Were there problems with renovations inside? Are there ghosts preventing the work from being finished? If the latter is the reason, I think the Paranormal Victoria Research & Investigations Society should go in and take a look. That building has seen a lot of history since it finished construction back in 1921. Work began in 1913, but it came to a halt due to a World War.

The building has a lot of history to it and I’ll be interested to see what will become of it once when the other work is done, like in seeing how the old floors I used to frequent as a lad will get turned into condos. Well, I doubt access will be granted to wander the apartment floors, but I fondly remember shopping in the old building back in the days.

To wander through the rows of furniture and racks of clothes was one thing, but it was the cafeteria that I have wonderful memories of. It was located very conveniently a few meters away from the toy department. I just hope something similar will be built when the Farmers Market moves indoors.

It makes me have some reservations. Without the open space, will this year-round marketplace succeed? There will no doubt be some growing pains. It will not be like Pike Place Market overnight. The biggest problem is distance; tourists may not necessarily want to make the 12 to 15 block hike from the Inner Harbour to see what’s offered. Because this market is more for the locals than visitors, there is nothing (yet) to invite non-locals in to visit.

Maybe in time, that will change. I can easily invision the ground and basement level becoming something akin to Pike Place if the planning is done right. It’d be cool to venture downstairs to find some curiousity shops, antique dealers and memorabilia (yes, including comics and toys) here. And with Chinatown right down the street, this section of town can easily become the new Downtown core than that of Yates and Douglas. Douglas and Fisgard has more character than Uptown ever will become.


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