When I walked into the Saint John City Market, I walked into a lot of history and found THE place for lunch.
Ship building holds a significant place in the history Saint John, New Brunswick – a history that is evident in the architecture of the market that was built in 1876 when most ships were still made of wood and many were powered by wind. The roof structure is similar to the hull of a ship – only inverted. It's impressive.
Below the roof are stalls of fish (of course), fruit, vegetables, meats, preserves… all fine and local fare. I wandered for a bit – tasted some local wine, inspected a huge octopus and soaked in the energy – then saw a line up of people at Lord's Lobster-Fish Market take-out counter. In that line, I thought, someone had to be a market regular and would know the local hot spot for a sit down lunch. I was looking for THE place for casual eats.
Finding THE Place to Eat
So I asked: “Who's been coming here for a long time?” A couple of people stared but one fellow stepped up with a big grin ready to give me any information I wanted. I was told to find Dave Forestell of Slocum & Ferris. It wasn't explained why, just that he was the proprietor of “THE place”.
I went across the market and found the Slocum & Ferris without problem but Dave wasn't there. “No, he's around the corner having lunch. Go ahead, he won't mind you stopping by,” I was told. So I went. I introduced myself and I asked Dave why people would send me to him. It took only a moment of prying to get him going about the history of his amazing establishment.
An Eating Establishment with a History that Keeps Growing
While Slocum & Ferris has been around since 1895, Dave bought it only twenty years ago. It's in the central part of the market offering take-out and seating for lunch. And it's THE place where people congregate.
Dave told me the history of the store and his story about finding it. He showed me the record book that itemizes years of early 20th century transactions – the farmers represented and the products bought and sold. And, at the back, he showed me his addition to this log – signatures of the many famous people who have eaten there.
The book includes signatures of former prime ministers, provincial premiers and mayors as well as radio and television personalities. For the historian with an imagination this alludes to conversations, discussions and possibly conclusions that may have been made in this market lunch spot. I arrived slightly after lunch. Who did I miss that day? No one famous according to Dave but it's not just the famous who I find fascinating.
Do you want to find THE place to have a bite of lunch? Just ask.