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Old Market Building

201, Third St., Cobourg, Ontario, K9A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1986/03/25

View from the south-west.; OHT, 2006
Cobourg's Old Market Building – 2006
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/11/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The building known as the Old Market Building is situated behind Victoria Hall at the north-east corner of Third and Albert Streets in the Town of Cobourg. The one-storey brick building, influenced by the Classical Revival style, was designed by architect Kivas Tully and was constructed in 1856.

The exterior of the building and scenic character of the property are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement which also includes the Second Street Fire Hall. The property is also designated by the Town of Cobourg under Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act (Bylaw No. 82-92) and lies within Cobourg's Commercial Core Heritage Conservation District. The interior of the Old Market Building now functions as a senior citizen's social centre with the area around the building serving as a farmer's market.

Heritage Value

Located at the intersection of Third and Albert Streets, the Old Market Building is adjacent to Victoria Hall, contributing to the long-standing tradition of situating market facilities with municipal government offices. Situated in the centre of Cobourg's downtown, the market both contributed to, and reinforced the commercial character of the area. This association has been formally recognized by the market's inclusion in Cobourg's Commercial Core Heritage Conservation District. The significant open space around the structure served to facilitate the trade and traffic associated with a market function.

The Old Market Building, built 1856, is historically significant as part of the town's historic commercial centre and was part of a civic building campaign that included Victoria Hall (1856-60). Construction of these buildings reflect the economic prosperity and confidence possessed by Cobourg's citizens during the late 1840's and early 1850's, when Cobourg enjoyed great economic growth due to its busy harbour, port of entry status, and agricultural wealth from local wheat production. Adding to the optimism of the period was the opening of the railway to Peterborough in 1854, and Cobourg's position on the Grand Trunk Railway's main line connecting Montreal and Toronto, which brought service to Cobourg in 1856. Resulting from the belief that Cobourg was to become an important city from these developments, the imposing Victoria Hall and substantial Market were planned on a commensurate scale with the community's prospective greatness. The property surrounding the Old Market Building still serves as a farmer's market and maintains the tradition of a public market in Cobourg which originated around 1832.

The Old Market Building is architecturally representative of a mid-19th century market building. Constructed to house produce, meat and other vendors, the original plan included ten stalls for butchers and cellars underneath. The broad roof with substantial overhang was to provide additional shelter to vendors and customers and is unusual in its absence of supporting braces. The market was designed by a noted Toronto architect, Kivas Tully, architect of Victoria Hall and whose work included Trinity College in Toronto. While utilitarian in comparison to the elaborate Victoria Hall, the adjacent Old Market Building is substantial in size and construction. Piers with simple capitals and bases define the bays of the building and lend the structure a Classical Revival character. Large windows and simple transom lights reinforce this distinction. Elsewhere, other period markets were typically incorporated within the base of the town hall rather than receiving their own free-standing building, or consisted of functional frame structures. This separation in Cobourg of the market from the town hall is one of the earliest examples in Canada of the later trend to separate the market-place from the municipal administrative and government offices.

Source: OHT Easement Files

Character-Defining Elements

Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Old Market Building include its:
- role as a public market
- continuity from c.1832 of a Cobourg market-place
- association with the provincially significant architect, Kivas Tully
- association with the building campaign that produced Victoria Hall.
- regular, rectangular, single-storey plan, three bays in width and five bays in length
- broad hipped roof with substantially overhanging eaves
- yellow brick construction with detailed piers, each with simple capital and base
- large rectangular windows with 12 over 8 wooden sashes
- wide east and west elevation doorways with wooden, four-panel, double doors topped by multi-pane transom lights
- location adjacent to Victoria Hall and the Second Street Fire Hall, forming a cluster of important civic buildings
- central, downtown location
- open space surrounding the building




Recognition Authority

Ontario Heritage Trust

Recognition Statute

Ontario Heritage Act

Recognition Type

Ontario Heritage Foundation Easement

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1986/01/01 to 1986/01/01
1992/01/01 to 1992/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services

Architect / Designer

Kivas Tully



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Conservation Easement Files Ontario Heritage Trust 10 Adelaide Street East Toronto, Ontario

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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