News / Kitchener

Roof going up and over St. Jacobs Farmer’s market building

ST. JACOBS — As the sun rose Tuesday in a cold, clear and calm morning sky, so did a new roof for the St. Jacobs Farmer's Market.

The landmark. two-storey building was flattened by fire on Labour Day, displacing about 60 vendors. Mercedes Corp. owns the market and decided to install a temporary barn to get vendors under cover for winter, before building a permanent replacement next year.

The engineered steel frame for the fabric covered shed started going up two weeks ago. Tuesday, half of the tough, textile roof was pulled over arched roof trusses like pulling a sheet over a bed. The second half is expected to go up at dawn Wednesday.

"As soon as it was light enough, we started the pull," said Cliff Janssens, of Bruce Schmidt Const. in New Hamburg.

"Everything went smooth. Everything couldn't have gone better this morning."

A balky pulley high up on a truss did stall work for a minute or two, after a half-dozen workers carefully folded up the roof, swung ropes up over the trusses, then hooked them to a farm tractor donated for the day by Premier Equipment in Elmira.

Once the roof started moving, it was in place in about 10 minutes.

"When you have the right equipment, the right amount of ropes, the right people, it pulls over real easy," Janssens said.

The temporary building sits on the 20-by-80 metre concrete foundation of the razed, wood-frame original. Once the roof was placed, workers hooked straps along the edged of the fabric and ratcheted them down snug.

"It's drum tight. When it's done, you can play the fabric like a drum," Janssens said.

Once the roof is in place, workers plan to install board and batten wood ends to close in the structure. That work is intended to be done by Friday.

Then it's up to other contractors to complete the inside of the market building. Plumbing, electricity, heating systems and fire sprinklers are going inside. Mercedes plans to have the building ready for vendors by December.

All but a few of the vendors in the original building will move into the temporary market shed. Vendors that cook food may find a home in the nearby Pedlar's Village building, which wasn't damaged by fire.

The cause of the Sept. 2 fire remains under investigation by the Ontario Fire Marshal's office. Initial damage was estimated at $2 million, but that was expected to climb.

The Kitchener and Waterloo Community Foundation is overseeing a fund established to help affected vendors offset uninsured losses.

The foundation is assisting a local volunteer committee in co-ordinating the relief efforts and disbursing funds.

"This is not something that typically we have been asked to do previously," admitted foundation chief executive officer Rosemary Smith.

But "we really believe at the foundation in helping people," she said. "The St. Jacobs Farmers' Market is a cultural representation of our community."

The St. Jacobs Farmers' Market Vendor Relief Fund will seek donations until Dec. 31. Smith said the goal of the fund is to help the merchants get back on their feet as soon as possible.

About 60 vendors were affected by the fire, and a preliminary estimate predicts uninsured losses could top $750,000.

While many vendors had sufficient insurance coverage, others — especially smaller vendors with lower inventories — didn't have any insurance or weren't fully covered.

Funds will be disbursed in three categories — assets, wages and business interruption.

The total amounts disbursed in each category will be made public once the funds have been distributed. Individual amounts won't be disclosed.

For more information on the fund or to donate, visit

More on