May 032014
 
Thing Addams Family

This report, we’ll be looking at the Blackfoot Farmer’s Market. Or rather what’s left of it. Once touted as Calgary’s oldest such concern, it’s closed now and the grounds abandoned. We’ve only known it since the mid-1990s but one thing I’ve noticed since the beginning, it was never a terribly busy place and I am in fact quite surprised it lasted as long as it did. We were unimpressed when ever we visited it, but at the same time, felt the place had potential. Of course now that it’s closed, we are sad to see it gone.

Before we begin the tour, I wanted to make mention of the photos. We converted them to black in white, not because we want to appear edgy or artsy, but rather, simply, the day was dull and grey and overcast and the light was horribly flat and the colours dull and off. The pictures looked awful and for the most part unusable. Yuck, they were ugly. Converting them allowed them to be salvaged. So why not just return on a day with better light? We have so many projects on the go, it may be some time before we can come back and by then, the place may be gone. Shoot it now!

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There is not a huge amount of information out there about the Blackfoot Farmer’s Market. Supposedly, it was established in 1976 (some reports say 1983). It’s not know if the location today is the same one from back then. No clue. Regardless, it’s a bit of a strange place to run a market perhaps, off the beaten path and in the centre of an industrial area. I believe this was a contributing factor to its demise. Few people know of it because of it was so out of the way. Of course, that also made it the most interesting (IMO) in some ways. Unlike the the yuppified, hipster markets elsewhere in town, which sold only artisan crafts and organic vegetables, this one was a bit raw and gritty. It was part farmer’s market, where you could buy a bag of carrots or a Hutterite raised chicken, and part junk store.

You could of course purchase produce and other foodstuffs at the market. There were also “antiques and collectibles” to be found – well the entrance sign said that. Sure there was the occasional treasure. Outside that was an assortment of flea market staples, old 8-track tapes, ratty stuffed animals, jig saw puzzles missing a few dozen pieces, Walmart quality press-board furniture minus one of two shelves that have been lost, an almost complete set of wrenches, an old mason jar full of an assorted of screws or buttons, an endless parade of “Where is Waldo” books. The usual assortment of bric-a-brac, chachkies and the like. You get the picture.

An outdoor market would not be complete without a few food vendors and this one was no different.

The venue was also home to petting zoo, populated by goats, donkeys, lambs and bunnies. On our visit, we saw a few of the latter wandering the grounds and perhaps these are escapees from that attraction. There was also a kid’s playground, now empty.

When operating, there used to be a live-in caretaker at the site.

I believe 2013 was the Blackfoot Market’s last year. It may been the year prior however, I can’t say. Connie and I would visit occasionally and frankly where underwhelmed by the place. It had a lot of potential, don’t get me wrong, and I was always rooting for it but instead of being a huge success it languished in obscurity. I mentioned the location being bad, for one. But there was also just not enough stuff of interest. For example, fruits and veggies – there would be say four or five vendors selling the exact same product. In respects to yummy stuff, there was no variety. It was promoted as a farmer’s market, but I can’t help think few, if any, of those vendors we saw grew what they sold. And for the flea market material – there was nothing but junk. Or at least that’s how it appeared to me.

Lastly, it never seems like the place was promoted. Maybe due to bad management? Hmm. Regardless, it was a prefect trifecta of failure. An ominous sign: every time we visited, there would be a new collection of vendors. High turnover means there is a problem.

While open there used to be an assortment of old farm tractors and the like scattered about the property but they are now gone.

Enough about what the place was. Let’s see what it is…

We pull up to the grounds and scan for around for any activity or signs of life. We’ll only enter if we can do so unmolested. It looks empty and forgotten and we can go in. Wandering around the front side, we pass a number of stalls large and small (mostly small), all empty of course. Some old signs remains – BC fruits – Watkins (every flea market has a Watkins vendor) – so and so’s crafts – and so on.

Going deeper into the Blackfoot Market complex, under somber and gloomy skies, we find some enclosed stalls. Many still had equipment or merchandise inside and it’s like the owners simply up and walked away. Vandals have not discovered this place yet (have I opened a can of worms?) and everything seems relativity intact. In one garage sized shed we find some old low end furniture, boxes and boxes of assorted books and magazines, crappy homemade works of art and paintings so horrible it’d be near impossible to describe them. They are “collectibles”, at least that’s what the sign said.

Working our way around back, we pass the petting zoo compound and the combination office and caretaker’s trailer. Peeking inside the latter, it’s clear a homeless person is living inside. Hmm, since he has made a home of the trailer, is he now no longer homeless? A non-homeless homeless person. A question for the ages, like does a tree falling in forest…ah, forget it. Beside the trailer is some biffy stalls and oddly, some showers. What the…?

Moving on, we find a gutted motorhome, some truck boxes, a hot tub and other flotsam and jetsam. Stuff of no value simply left behind for someone else to deal with. We find an old garage full of, well, even more junk. Move on.

While walking around, I felt sort of eerie. Not that we were worried about being cornered by a homeless person. In our experience they are rarely a problem – it’s just that it felt strange, mysterious, creepy. Not Ghost Hunters, malevolent demon spirits from the underworld creepy. Sort of lonely, forgotten, empty and deserted, like I’m the only one in the world (even if I’m in the big city), creepy.

I bet the land it sits on is being eyed up for redeveloped. In Calgary, at least right now, vacant land rarely stays so for long.

Strangely, the Blackfoot Farmers Market website now belongs to a web development company. Huh? Maybe it was hacked?

The Calgary farmer’s market scene in now down a player. There are still others though, the Calgary Farmer’s Market, the Crossroad Market and others. All are more upscale then the Blackfoot to one degree or another. Some far too trendy and upscale if you ask me.

Blackfoot, by the way, refers to a First Nations tribe from the area, so named for their dark coloured footwear.

If any readers of this blog has some Blackfoot Farmer’s Market stories or observations to share, by all means let us know. We’d all love to know more. Enjoy the photos…

To see some other abandoned places we’ve explored, go here…
The dome buildings and an ancient boxcar.
Abandoned coal mine cars.
Abandoned CPR Bow River bridge.

If you’d like to know more about what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!

Date: April, 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.

Blackfoot Farmer's Market

The Blackfoot Farmer’s Market, closed and abandoned.

Blackfoot Market fruit stand

Like any good farmer’s market, they had some produce vendors.

Old broom

A broom to help clean up or a crashed witch?

Empty stalls Blackfoot Market

Most stalls are open to the air and of course, empty.

Blackfoot Market abandoned

We visited on a dark and gloomy day.

Old cash register

Cha-ching!

Food stall Blackfoot Market

Some of the enclosed stalls still had equipment and stuff inside.

Blackfoot Farmer's Market Calgary

The market was established in the 1970s but it not clear if it’s always been at this location.

Sebasti's Mediterranean Cuisine

Sebasti’s Authentic Mediterranean Cuisine.

Sebasti's Blackfoot Market

I’ll have a Greek Salad…

Empty stalls Blackfoot Market

I am not surprised the place closed. It never seemed busy.

Blackfoot Market empty stalls

Every farmer’s/flea market. it seems, has a Watkin’s dealer (left stall).

Petting zoo Blackfoot Market

Petting zoos seem to be a popular attraction at these types of places.

Biffies Blackfoot Market

Biffies. and oddly there were some shower stalls too. Huh?

Bunny Blackfoot Market

We saw a number of these black bunnies – escapees from the petting zoo?

Blackfoot Market grounds

I am sure it won’t take long for this land to be redeveloped.

Blackfoot Market Calgary

One good wind, and this little shed will topple.

Pissaco painting

A Picasso…yes, I’m pretty sure it’s a Picasso.

Where is Waldo?

A staple of flea markets everywhere, “Where is Waldo” books.

Abandoned stall Blackfoot Market

So many treasures.

Blackfoot Farmers Market

A ratty old stuffed animal and a stained chair, how did they not sell?

NT model 2500 phone

A Northern Telecom model 2500 push-button phone – your folks may have had one.

Blackfoot Farmers Market abandoned

This merchant simply abandoned their wares.

Blackfoot Farmers Market grounds

FM? What could that stand for?

Blackfoot Market playgound

To keep the kid’s busy.

Trailer Blackfoot Market

The live-in caretaker’s trailer.

Blackfoot Market petting zoo

The petting zoo grounds.

Bunnies Blackfoot Farmers Market

Bunny in front and bunny in back. Can you see him?

Blackfoot Market office

The market office.

Blackfoot Farmers Market petting zoo

I wonder what happened the animals that used to live here?

Office trailer Blackfoot Market

BBQ time! Now where’s those rabbits?

Homeless Blackfoot Market

Some homeless people have moved in, making them no longer homeless…I guess.

Gutted motorhome

This gutted motorhome was found at the edge of the property.

Old motorhome

It’s been stripped to the bare walls. Well actually even some the walls are gone.

Montreal Expos window sticker

Go Expos!

Grounds Blackfoot Market

I can’t say why, but it felt eerie walking around the site.

Winnie the Pooh

Hangin’ with Winnie the Pooh.

Junky old motorhome

The seats, dash and grill from the motor home can be seen on the left.

Van Gogh painting

A Van Gogh…I think…

Thing Addams Family

Thank you thing!

Old pickup truck boxes

Some old truck boxes, but no matching trucks.

Old hot tub

The site was littered with all manner of interesting things and a lot of junk.

Blackfoot Market bunny

Another bunny and a creepy Christmas lawn ornament.

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26 Comments on "Blackfoot Farmer’s Market"

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James Tworow
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James Tworow

I took some photos there on June 1st last year, just shortly after it closed, there was a little more at that time, just freshly abandoned…

Connie Biggart
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Connie Biggart

That hand is spooky! And so’s that Pooh Bear!

aero-smith
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aero-smith

My name is Gerald Smith and for a time I had a booth at the market, selling our farm grown vegetables. I can tell you with all certainty that bad management was a large part of market’s downfall. You are right though, the poor location did not help. We were there for one summer and did not renew.

renri_renri
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renri_renri

I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THAT VIBE YOU’RE DESCRIBING IS LIKE. I HAVE EXPLORED MANY OLD BUILDING AND HAVE FELT IT. MY WIFE AND I ENJOY YOUR BLOG.

shirley_m
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shirley_m

My folks would shop at the market all the time when I was a teenager. Sad to see it looking so abandoned.

Jolene
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Jolene
I can give you a bit of insight into Blackfoot Farmer’s Market. It opened in the 70’s and was the first in Calgary, the land actually belongs to the city and has been leased by someone all these years. It was a swamp and the guy who leased it had the city dump all the gravel and such in it until it was filled up and “land”. He then opened what was for years a very busy Farmer’s Market. I’m not sure exactly how many years it ran for, some of what I know about it is told to us by the son of the man who started it, some from others who have been associated with the Market over the years, but I did go there a lot over the years too. Probably about 2000 was the last time I went for quite a few years. But it was… Read more »
anne elliott
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A very interesting read, Chris, including Jolene’s information. I have driven past this market for many years, every Wednesday, but had never actually been inside it. Just seemed sad to see it become more and more overgrown. A great set of photos of the whole area.

Tim Swaren
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Tim Swaren

(via Facebook)
I remember me and a buddy going to the Blackfoot Market back in the 1990s. Was a fun place!

Jeme Deviny
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Jeme Deviny

Always appreciate the background information and other historical facts. Thank you for another wonderful post.

Candy Belliveau
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Candy Belliveau

I have a friend who was a vendor there and they all or most of them moved to Currie Barracks and then from there to the location just down from Heritage on Blackfoot. I think the one at the barracks was the most successful.

Barry Ryziuk
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Barry Ryziuk

(via Facebook)
Is there no end to the places you have seen? Thanks again for sharing with us!

Warren M. Sable
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Warren M. Sable

(via Facebook)
I took a bunch of colour shots there not too long ago. Now it’s all been scraped away and you’d never know it existed.

Rus Hel
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Rus Hel

Now it is the heavy petting zoo!

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