St. Jacobs bills itself as “Ontario’s favourite rural destination”. This is no idle boast. A drive to St. Jacobs (about 14 km from Waterloo) to shop and tour the surrounding beautiful farm land is a great break from city life.
For me a visit to the St. Jacobs market is a fabulous treat for the palate and the eye. It’s open Thursday and Saturday year round and on Tuesdays during the summer. This is not the usual small community farmers’ market. It is enormous and comes with surprises everywhere. There are literally hundreds of vendors of food and crafts and the food includes much more than in-season produce. An abundance of tempting ready-to-eat specialties of the region and even international foods are available.
Often the ground floor of the market building is the food section. It is often so crowded that you can barely move. This should not discourage you for it indicates that you are in the right place where everyone who knows about food has congregated. You should sample the many local cheeses, prepared meats, bakery items that come from the county farms infused with the flavours of Germany, for this is Mennonite country. Various tempting dishes you can eat right on the site are prepared by such vendors as Almadina Egyptin Cuisine, Maria’s Homemade Noodles, Perogie Palace, Yog N Shake – Salad and Smoothy Bar and St. Jacobs Fudge and Ice Creamery. With this kind of choice it’s obvious why I always skip breakfast before heading to St. Jacobs Market.
Upstairs in the main market building are all sorts of crafts and housewares, and some a few upscale food vendors that can’t be wedged into the ground floor . And outside there is a jam packed area with stalls selling everything from locally grown produce from the farms of Old Order Mennonites to almost anything that could conceivably be sold at a flea market from cheap electronics to exotic clothing and quilts.
If you are not exhausted by shopping at the market you will want to go to the Outlets Mall just across the road. Here are dozens of stores selling deeply discounted merchandise from jeans to running shoes and from furniture for the baby’s room to kitchen pots and pans, luggage and clothing.
Along the streets of the charming village of St. Jacobs are more shops selling arts and crafts and an unusually rich array of fashion that you won’t find anywhere else. If distinctive and well crafted clothing is your thing you can’t go wrong here.
There’s even more to discover in St. Jacobs. At Market Road Antiques there are over 100 dealers under one roof. Be sure also to visit the Spring Street Antique Market as well. It has a well chosen stock of furniture and collectables.
Among the shops that I particularly like to visit are Angel Treasures which has almost anything you could possibly want in the way of angel themed arts and crafts, Artefacts Salvage & Design which has a truly eclectic and ever changing stock of antique architectural ornaments, unique furniture and interior decorations. Don’t miss the Conestoga River Pottery in the Village Silos if you are after a one-of-a-kind piece of Canadian pottery and Grey Fort Quilts for one of the largest collection of Amish and Mennonite quilts to be found anywhere. Last but not least is one of the most peculiar shops in St. Jacobs. At Hamel Brooms you can see how corn brooms are made and buy one of them made right on the site.
There is so much to do to keep you busy in St. Jacobs you will want to stay the night. There are many Bed & Breakfasts in the region. Several of them are set in unique country settings that are very restful.
For more information on shopping in St. Jacobs.