St. Barnabas Christmas Market reopened its doors post-pandemic to the Danforth community Nov 5.
All were welcome for free, whether they were regular church-goers or spontaneous visitors. Church members Jenny Reid and Janet Brooker planned this year’s event.
The duo has overseen the event for around nine years as co-chairs, but the Christmas market has been around 75 years, when it started as a bazaar.
When Reid and Brooker took on planning the event, they invited vendors to make it a market.
“When we no longer had the number of people in the congregation who were doing handicrafts, and there were more people working in the day, and they could no longer create handicrafts and do that kind of thing [selling], we rented out the tables and reached out to vendors.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, St. Barnabas had to close their market for two years. During that time, the church administration wasn’t able to interact fully with their members or the community.
“Having the community inside the church once more and seeing so many people in the building, and being with our own parishioners after such a long time due to COVID, I was really pleased with it this year,” Brooker said.
When guests walked through the church’s doors, they encountered a plethora of people speaking to and buying from various vendors. Wearing a mask was optional for all.
There was a wide selection of vendors to choose from, selling everything from handmade jewelry to water-painted Christmas cards and more. A snack bar was open for those who wanted to munch on something while they browsed around the auditorium.
Brooker said it took eight months to organize the event due to trying to reach out to vendors and get a good variety for everyone to find something new.
An early start for some Christmas shopping
Dylan O’Brien and his wife, Melissa, are not church members, but Melissa O’Brien volunteered as a former community member at St. Barnabas for Girl Guides of Canada.
It was their first time going to the Christmas market together, and they got a head start on holiday shopping for themselves and their family members.
“We got some ceramic plates, a ceramic incense tray, and a card for my father-in-law. It was convenient and a good place to buy unique Christmas gifts,” Dylan O’Brien said.
They also said that the items weren’t the conventional gifts they buy for family members for Christmas.
“This is the first one I ever heard of here, so if they have another one, I will come back,” Melissa said.
While out to lunch with her friend, Gloria Yip stumbled upon the Christmas market and enjoyed the community-based atmosphere inside the market.
“There were a lot of art vendors, and I felt that people were putting out things that they love, which is sometimes missing from Toronto,” Yip said.
Most of the vendors specialized in handmade goods, and Yip highlighted that it, “made a different experience than other stores during the holidays,” and that she felt more receptive to purchasing from the vendors. Yip walked out of the market with a handmade water-painted Christmas card for her friend.
Yip said the market was “a great primer for the holiday events to come for the city.”
According to their official website, St. Barnabas is one of the oldest Anglican perishes in Toronto and was one of the first of eight Anglican churches in the city.
Nowadays, the church remains active in serving the community of Danforth. They have also been known to be the “Church in the Market Place.”