Canada's largest year-round farmers' market was gutted by a spectacular early morning fire Monday that caused as much as $2 million damage.
The main building at St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, a popular local and tourist attraction in Woolwich Township. just north of Waterloo, Ont., couldn't be saved by the time 40 firefighters arrived on the scene at around 1:45 a.m.
There were no injuries.
The building was constructed in the mid-1980s and the structure consisted entirely of 12-by-12 Douglas fir columns and beams brought in from B.C.
It's very rare all-wood building and built with the idea of paying homage to the area's Mennonite background.
According to one of the builders, who did not want to be named, the fact the building was made up entirely of wood does not necessarily lend reason to why it went down in flames so quickly.
"It's no different than steel in that sense," the builder said. "The structure probably didn't go down any faster than if it were steel. Once it's hot, steel collapses, too."
The builder said there was no sprinkler system in place.
"It was built before it was required," the builder said, adding, "it was a very unique building (and) there was a lot of product in the building."
On its site, the Market describes the 24,000-square-foot building as "a charming post and beam structure jam-packed with delectable foods on the first level. The second level is devoted to home decor and crafts. Peddler's Village next door boasts house wares, furniture, fashions, footwear, crafts and upscale food vendors."
The Market also featured a livestock barn and a petting farm but none of the animals were affected by the blaze.
"This is a devastating loss for St. Jacobs, the Township of Woolwich, the region and the agricultural community" Woolwich Township Mayor Todd Cowan said in a statement. "The St. Jacobs Market is an iconic site in the Township and is an established, well known destination for tourism across the province. The Township of Woolwich will work with the community and the owners to help re-establish the market as soon as possible".
The fire sparked an outpouring of support on the Market's Facebook page Monday.
One post read: "I hope you rebuild as many memories growing up have been spent at the market...and I would like to pass the memories on to my family. But this is very upsetting to all as it has effected so many people...good food...good music..and good people...and all supporting the local economy."
The cause of the fire has not yet been determined and the Ontario fire marshal has been contacted.