The creation of the market came from the desire of the City of Montreal to tackle the economic decline caused by the 1930s Great Depression.
Located at the heart of Little Italy, where the lacrosse field used to be, the market was opened to the public in May 1933. It was first called the North Market. Then, in 1982, the market was renamed Jean-Talon in honour of the first intendant of the New France.
At first the market was not a trading place. The mayor’s office, who had wanted to make it a living space, built a public library (where the Première Moisson bakery is now) and a children’s playground. After a few years, this project was abandonned and the market became a real trading and gastronomic place.
Originally the market was only opened on Fridays and Saturdays, and from 1954, it was opened daily. It counts more than 400 farmers who sale fruit and vegetables, eggs and living animals. Over the years, the warehouses on the North and South sides have become Italian food shops.
Since the opening day, Quebeckers and Italians shop there. However, at the time, the clients did not choose the same products. Quebeckers bought cucumbers and tomatoes, whereas Italians were looking for aubergines and red peppers.
At the beginning of the 1980s, the market opened the indoors section, made with movable partitions. Nowadays, tourists and locals come throughout the year to get hold of local and fresh products.