Ontario Food Terminal

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The Ontario Food Terminal

The Ontario Food Terminal (OFT) is the main produce distribution centre for Toronto, Canada. It is located at 165 The Queensway at Park Lawn Road, north of the Gardiner Expressway, and west of the Humber River. The giant U-shaped building sits on 16 hectares of land [1] and is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for deliveries.[2] Annually some one million vehicles arrive at the centre delivering produce from across North America or leave to distribute it to stores and restaurants across the city. It is the largest such facility in Canada, and the third largest in North America after those in Chicago and Los Angeles.[3]

The OFT was completed in June 1954. The land had been purchased in 1946 but plans to build on the site were shelved in 1950 due to the scarcity of building materials. It cost $3 million and took two years to build. The architects were Shore and Moffat and Soules Construction Limited built the facility.[4] It included space for 400 trucks.

Previously the main distribution centre for Toronto was located in buildings in the five-acre block of King Street East, Market Street, Front Street and Church Street, northwest of the St. Lawrence Market market building. In 1954, it was considered one of the most congested car and truck parking districts in downtown Toronto. 56 wholesale and related firms moved to the new terminal from the old block.[5]

Originally most of the shipments arrived by rail, but today it mostly arrives by truck. Some are flown in via nearby Pearson Airport. It is located on a 40 acres (16 ha) site, and the facility itself covers some 1,740,000 square feet (162,000 m2). This includes 80,000 square feet (7,400 m2) of cold storage.

The fruits and vegetables are shipped to the terminal from Ontario farms as well as more distant locales such as Florida, California, and Mexico. At the terminal, local buyers meet the sellers and haggle over prices. It is thus the main market for establishing produce prices in the region. The majority of the produce eaten in Toronto moves through the terminal, though some of the largest grocery stores such as Loblaws contract directly with growers and do not use it.

The Ontario Food Terminal is owned by the provincial government and managed by the arms length Ontario Food Terminal Board, which leases space in the market to the distribution companies. The board members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on recommendation from the Minister of Agriculture and Food.

Normally, The Ontario Food Terminal is not open to the public. Recently however, it has opened its doors for the annual Taste of the Food Terminal event. This one day event benefits FoodShare Toronto, a not-for-profit charity organization which focuses on providing healthy food to low-income communities in Toronto.[6]


  1. ^ http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2013/05/23/food_buyer_scouts_fresh_produce_at_ontario_food_terminal.html
  2. ^ http://www.blogto.com/eat_drink/2007/10/inside_the_ontario_food_terminal/
  3. ^ "Inside The Ontario Food Terminal". BlogTO. Retrieved October 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ "New Food Terminal to be build by the Provincial Government". Toronto Star. August 22, 1952. p. 13. 
  5. ^ "Biggest Moving Day When Produce Firms Occupy New Terminal". The Globe and Mail. June 2, 1954. p. 4. 
  6. ^ http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2013/05/23/food_buyer_scouts_fresh_produce_at_ontario_food_terminal.html

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Coordinates: 43°37′43″N 79°29′07″W / 43.628732°N 79.485397°W / 43.628732; -79.485397