Food markets are some of the most vibrant, energetic, and community inspiring parts of any place. As Billy Wilder said in his 1963 film, Irma La Douce, regarding a bustling food market in Paris, this is “the stomach of the city.” Atwater Market is right on Griffintown’s doorstep and undoubtedly feeds a healthy portion (pun intended) of Montreal’s population. Montrealers know the value of good quality, local, specially imported and gourmet foods, and Atwater plays an integral part in providing this to the community.
Sumptuous colours, textures, and aromas emanate from this neighbourhood hub. Fish mongers, butchers, bakeries, cheese shops, florists, along with city-dwellers clutter the market’s long hallways. Multiculturalism permeates through the building – specialty products imported from abroad line shelves, and restaurants serve foods from around the globe. Jasmin et Fils Fruits et Légumes is one of the larger produce merchants within the market. The colours within their impeccable fruit and vegetable selection are impossible not to gravitate toward. Le Coin Gourmand is almost completely constructed of towered jams and preserves with succulent flavour combinations. Locals flood Premiere Moisson on their lunch time break.
Built in 1933 and named after Edwin Atwater, a 19th century business man and city councillor, the architecturally beautiful market has been a pillar of Montreal life for decades. Walking through Atwater market does seem to transport you in time, as the building has largely been unchanged. A love of food permeates through generations, as many of the merchants working in the market today are direct descendants of those from nearly 100 years ago (Marché Atwater, 2017). Consequently, there is an authentically friendly and welcoming atmosphere that you simply would not get from the average supermarket.
One customer spoke with me, saying that she had once been in the market to buy some oysters but wavered because she did not have an oyster shucker. The man working there, without hesitation, handed her his shucker and simply told her to borrow it and bring it back another day. Needless to say, she was shocked at the kindness she received from the man. The long life of this market is truly a testament to the connection it prides itself in having with the people that walk its halls.