Ottawa’s historic food-focused ByWard Market houses hundreds of vendors hawking farm-raised meat, fresh produce, and arts and crafts. Hungry visitors and locals alike flock to this social and shopping hub, where takeout vendors sell ready-to-eat goodies and sit-down eateries offer prime seats for patrons to take in all the market action.
ByWard Market has served as a key gathering place and shopping market in Canada’s capital since 1849. Today the historic buildings and open-air marketplace are home to over 260 stands and 600 businesses comprising food stalls, specialty boutiques, eateries, and more. While you can see the market in passing during some sightseeing tours—along with other Ottawa attractions such as the Rideau Canal and Parliament Hill—to experience it at its best, you need to go inside and explore properly. Take a food or wine tour of the city, during which tour guides show you around the market and introduce you to some of the best bites, food purveyors, and local restaurants in the city.
Things to Know Before You Go
- From May through Labor Day (the first Monday of September), ByWard Market Ambassadors are on-hand to provide additional information about the market.
- The market has both indoor and outdoor sections.
- Much of the market and its businesses are accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
ByWard Market encompasses an area of around four blocks, bordered by Rideau Street to the south, Cathcart Street to the north, Cumberland Street to the east, and Sussex Drive to the west. The main brick market building stands between George and York Streets. Numerous local bus routes stop on Rideau Street. On-street parking as well as parking garages are available nearby.
When to Get There
To see the market at its biggest and busiest, go on a summer weekend. It expands during warmer weather, as stalls spill out onto the surrounding streets. Go early to nab the best produce. Opening hours vary from business to business, with most shops opening from early morning to late afternoon, while bars stay open later.
BeaverTails at ByWard Market
Perhaps the most famous snack to be served at ByWard are BeaverTails. This Canadian pastry—which consists of fried dough shaped like a beaver’s tail, topped with cinnamon and sugar—originated here in Ontario and is a much-loved local specialty. Even former US President Barack Obama stopped to buy one during an Ottawa visit in 2009.