Small Town Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret


Written by Heather Clemenceau

Farmers’ markets attract city dwellers the way clover fields draw bees. Every major Canadian city has at least one, and they have been a favourite tool of city planners seeking to develop new communities or rejuvenate rundown parts of town. Typically, farmer’s markets have a new role as a popular anchor for urban redevelopment to lure both tourists and residents as the buy-local food movement gathers momentum.  I myself also enjoy farmer’s markets and I’m a frequent patron of the Evergreen Brickworks Market and the Reesor Farm Market.  Toronto has an abundance of small markets tucked away in the city that promote local produce and bring colour and life to stagnating urban areas.

Although the Stouffville Market,  located northeast of Toronto in York Region, has a large and comprehensive vegetable market,  they’ve been hiding a dirty little secret from the nearby community. The Stouffville Market also houses a livestock area that is open-for-business from 3am – 11am on Saturdays most months of the year.

Most Canadians are unaware of the fact that animal abuses are endemic in agriculture in Canada.  The Toronto Star recently published an op-ed piece describing why this might be so.  The author asserts that  peaceful Canada condones such cruelty to farm animals largely due to the fact that these practices are generally concealed from the scrutiny of the public eye.  I agree!  And with small steps such as highlighting the numerous issues at this market,  welfare advocates gradually move towards exposing these and other practices committed against farm animals.

Arguably, this is also the case at the Stouffville Livestock Market  as well,  where it seems that the only patrons of the market appear to hail from various ethnic and “old world” communities.   Despite having an excellent vegetable market on the same premises, the livestock area reminds one of a third-world market where animals are constricted in tiny cages unable to move,  then stuffed into onion bags awaiting a horrible fate at some other location.  The livestock market  is also a fire hazard as both patrons and sellers smoke openly around straw-filled cages.

Stacks of poultry cages packed with live birds fill the area – most of these birds and other animals won’t sell today and will be shipped back in these cages or dropped off at the abbatoir on the way back from the market.  We witnessed these plastic “cages” being flung onto the pavement at the market in the early morning,  the birds inside utterly commoditized.  The market is a little shop of horrors in the early morning too,  where customers wait in the shadows at 3am to make their purchases.  What reputable business operates in the shadows of darkness at 3am?  Although we did not witness it,  there were animal sounds emanating from nearby that were consistent with slaughter,  which is not permitted on the property.  Furthermore,  what reputable vendor would toss used-up  or weakened birds out on the road or in ditches in onion sacks to drown or slowly die constricted by their onion sacks?  Thankfully,  there is a kind-hearted good samaritan in the area who collects and rehabilitates these animals,  but why is this cruelty perpetuated without repercussions for these sellers?

Throughout the day,  vendors barter and patrons go home with chickens,  rabbits, and ducks stuffed into onion sacks,  where they are put into the trunks of cars.  This is November,  but I’m sure the practice of putting animals in trunks occurs during the oppressive heat of July as well.  We would be outraged at the sight of a dog being put into a trunk or left in a hot car,  but where is the outrage here?  The problem is that few people,  outside of the ethnic community it serves,  even know that this market exists.

Although there is some distance separating the two,  I’m surprised that the small dead pigs, laid out on flattened cardboard boxes, are so close to all of these chickens and the prodding fingers of prospective purchasers who

Pigs laid out on flattened cardboard boxes, not protected from the fingers of patrons who perhaps have handled live chickens.

may have just visited the livestock area and handled a chicken.  I did not see the vendors in this area wearing gloves either.  Shipment and adapting to new locations causes stress on birds and makes them more likely to shed bacteria in their droppings. While anyone can become ill from exposure to these germs, the risk of infection is especially high for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems; for example, people receiving chemotherapy or who are HIV-infected. One of the most important bacteria  to be made aware of is Salmonella.  Birds infected with Salmonella do not usually appear sick. Salmonella lives in the intestine of infected chickens, and can be shed in large numbers in the droppings. Once shed, bacteria can spread across the chicken’s body as the bird cleans itself and throughout the environment as the chicken walks around. Therefore, it is especially important to carefully wash hands with soap and water after handling young birds or anything that has come in contact with them.

I have confirmed with Dr. Popper of the CFIA that this market is not allowed to sell hoofstock.  Yet,  today,  we see ample evidence of goats and pigs being sold despite the CFIA’s assertions.  The market is a disgrace and a blight on the community.  They know that they are not permitted to sell hoofstock yet they thumb their noses at regulations.  Some vendors appear to be selling Mallard ducks as well,  which they assert are Call ducks.  This issue remains in contention because Call ducks are usually smaller,  stockier,  with shorter  bills and necks.  We are of the opinion that these are Mallard ducks.  To report infractions,  please contact the Ministry of Natural Resources or call 905.336.4464 for the Canadian wildlife service, and 1.877.847.7667 for infractions.

Please sign the Petition to close down the livestock market. 

This petition sends emails directly to the Mayor of Stouffville,  Wayne Emmerson,  and OMAFRA Minister Ted McMeekin.

Postscript ~ In an article written for  York it was noted that Mayor Emmerson had contacted me and was waiting for a response.  I’m unsure by what media this contact allegedly took place,  since I have an unpublished phone number that I haven’t provided to anyone.  I have no records of any phone calls originating from the Stouffville area,  nor do I have any messages on any of my phones.  I have received no emails nor have I seen a comment left on this blog.  If Mayor Emmerson wishes to reach me I would be more than happy to speak with him,  so perhaps he could leave a message on this blog.

About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic plant-based eater, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

30 responses »

  1. I couldn’t sign your petition as the page would not come up. Live animals are not allowed in markets in this area. Maybe the spca would do something?? The local health department might be interested since the CFIA isn’t.

  2. I got it to come up and signed it. Also is it legal to sell Mallard ducks? I did not think you could have possession of wildlife with out a permit?

  3. Good Morning! I was horrified to read what has been going on at what used to be my favorite outdoor market! I remember back in the 1980’s that this practice was going on at the FRONT of the market and the Humaine Society came in and shut it down! Now to read that it is back is outrageous!! The person who is running this should be drawn and quartered just like those poor animals are! Mr. Mayor shame on you for allowing this backstreet, Victorian style slaughter to happen!!

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  5. You’re a joke. This article is a joke. I saw on your facebook and you’ve liked shows like Dexter. Dexter is a violent show where a man kills people for pleasure. Another image that stuck was the one with the milk. How can you drink milk, do you ever stop to think about what abuse these milking cows go through? No because you are a naiive individual who picks and chooses what is convienant for you to like and dislike. Grow up, you sound like a child. Since you’re so “driven” by causes why don’t you go focus on bigger issues like the straving children in Africa, then worry about stupid chickens.

    • I can definitely be thick in certain contexts, and unaware of many things, but I dislike the phrase, “you’re a joke.”

      The whole “starving children” argument is a red herring. Why don’t YOU focus on starving children in Africa, or anywhere else? What’s stopping you? I find it to be most amusing when people choose to attack animal rights activists for not caring about people. I’m a person too. Does that mean I don’t care about myself, my friends and family, or the rest of the world because I spoke out against animal cruelty? What a weak argument; as if our dedication and passion to one cause is a clear indication that we don’t care about anything else. Are you an activist for African children? Just because I’m outspoken about animal rights, doesn’t mean I don’t think capturing Kony is a worthy cause.

      I’m glad you felt compelled to check me out on Facebook and cherry pick my profile, which shows exactly why you have no legitimate argument otherwise. Why don’t you post your real name so we can check out your own FB profile? You’ve got a bone to pick with people who watch fictional shows on TV? You did know that Dexter is fictional right? I’m assuming that you missed all the other issues I support as per my Facebook profile, so next time you want to take issue with anyone’s causes, make sure you have a really good look at their Facebook profile, stalker.

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  9. There is absolutely nothing wrong with selling live animals at a market. If you want to change society for the better, I would suggest you spend your time advocating for an important issue affecting people, like human rights or incompetent government rather than an inane protest against the sale of live chickens. Get a grip & stop making a fool of yourself..

    • You don’t have any idea what any one else is advocating for in addition to this issue, nor is it any of your business. Do you not understand that people are able to care about two or more things at the same time? A government that is unwilling or unable to enforce it’s own rules and regulations as they apply to this market is exactly that – incompetent. What causes do you support? Perhaps I can critique them and decide whether they are worthy? Don’t label people who are simply trying to get people to open their eyes and their minds to a difficult and ugly truth, but a truth none

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  11. Your nothing more than an neo-facisist who has nothing more to do in life other than worry about things that don’t affect you. Get off your high chair and smell reality. The market is a farmers market, for the farmers by the farmers.
    You state your a ” I’m an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian and as such, it’s a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity.” To me that is nothing more than a manifesto against all meat eaters and i beg to differ when you say “not crazy”.
    You should not worry about these animals the are treated well. Both the OMAFRA and the OSPCA found nothing wrong at the farmers market.
    So stop the insanity that you call a cause, because you know it has nothing to do with a cause other than your own agenda to get “seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity”.
    There are more pressing matters in this world other than a few chickens or goats being sold at a farmers market. There are people losing homes, not able to buy food, children going hungry, you want to find a cause look to something greater.

    That’s my two cents, i hope everyone wakes up and smell reality.

    • Bob, I had to post your comment so that we can all have a good laugh. You obviously don’t have a clue what fascism really is. And I’ve pointed out in a subsequent blog post what OMAFRA, CFIA, and OSPCA all missed. They did tell the market vendors to provide water and to keep to one animal per bag – did you not even read Ms. Mendleson’s article? And yes, there are always hungry children and people suffering financially. What do you do to help them? Bob, it’s a fallacy to assume that people who strive to protect animals are not interested in human beings. I’m involved in several charities whose only focus is humans; I’m not going to name them here in case they start to experience some form of harassment, and in any case, I don’t have anything to prove.

      • Totally agree with Bob, you agenda, and nothing but propaganda for yourself. Focus you energy on things that really matter and impact this world’s sustainability and environment! Was there a few weeks ago, and nothing like you describe is going on.

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  14. True that its not wrong to sell animals but treat them humanely until slaughtered and that should be done humanely also. It is cruel to pack more than one animal in a bag they should ALWAYS be able to move freely as you so enjoy being able to do. Why is your comfort more important than an animals? Your first mistake is thinking one life is more important than another, Why is it ok to kill animals but not humans? Our life is not more valuable it is very self-centered to think so. You need to understand that all life has a right to enjoy their time on earth and no one has the right to take their life away. I bet you kill spiders without thinking twice about it eh you jerk. Anyways, just as you would like, animals should always have water, be well fed, be able to roam around, etc. Just as you would like for your selfish self.

  15. Cindy, you have more to give to all on this planet than any of the “Zero’s” from the above posts who haven’t got a clue to what life “all life” is about!
    Heather, you are a great advocate for many issues-well done! Keep going, you know your getting close to the heart of things when ignorant people start panicking & say anything to change the real issue at hand. If all was well then there would be no issue to begin with so obviously there is when something comes of it like this. I & hundreds more stand beside you on this issue & many others. Continue to dig deep into matters that draw you to them, they are for you to share & open the eyes & minds of people who help change or make a difference in the world!
    Namaste… 🙂

    • Cindy,
      you have more to give to all on this planet than any of the “Zero’s” from the above posts who haven’t got a clue to what life “all life” is about!

      you are a great advocate for many issues-well done! Keep going, you know your getting close to the heart of things when ignorant people start panicking & say anything to change the real issue at hand. If all was well then there would be no issue to begin with so obviously there is when something comes of it like this. I & hundreds more stand beside you on this issue & many others. Continue to dig deep into matters that draw you to them, they are for you to share & open the eyes & minds of people who help change or make a difference in the world!
      Namaste… 🙂

      I wanted to re-post using my FB…Can you approve this same post as the 1st one shows me anonymous & I am proud of who I choose to stand beside when doing the right thing for lives (all life) is important & necessary!

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