It’s hard to miss the emerald green Dundurn Market that proudly stands at the corner of Hamilton’s energetic Dundurn neighbourhood. Located at 346 Dundurn Street S at the Aberdeen and Dundurn Street South intersection, the market offers a quiet escape from the busyness of Hamilton urban life. 

Dundurn Market opened its doors this spring, and was founded by serial entrepreneurs and father-son duo Roger and Justin Abbiss. The two may not admit it, but they’ve been a big part of bringing sustainable food to the doorsteps of Hamiltonians in the last few years.

Roger Abbiss has been a pioneer of small scale coffee shop culture; he founded My Dog Joe in Westdale, Democracy on Locke Street, and Mulberry on James Street North. Anyone who has lived for any amount of time in Hamilton will be familiar with at least one of these coffee shops.

My Dog Joe was a big part of my university days almost a decade ago. I was first introduced to the London Fog at the busy cafe minutes away from McMaster University, and a few steps from my student house.

Roger’s son Justin joined forces with him six years ago, and the two started Coffeecology, a Hamilton-based coffee roastery. The purpose was to supply coffee to some of the cafes that the Abbiss family had already started, but it expanded into something much bigger.

“In the process we started learning about coffee, and that a lot of the coffee made in big scale shops are months old and already stale,” Justin shared.

In 2016 Bikeables was founded by the father-son team, a revolutionary concept that feels more European than Canadian. The subscription delivery service offers doorstep deliveries by cargo bike, every day of the year. Naturally, the first product offered was Coffeecology coffee.

The concept is simple: roasted coffee is delivered to customers weekly in a mason jar, and the following week the empty mason jars are picked up and replaced with a fresh delivery of coffee.

“We figured if people wanted fresh roasted coffee, they would want some tea, granola, bread, and other fresh local items,” Justin said.

In the two years since Bikeables was founded its grown from delivering coffee, to delivering many items, as well as extending its business into Toronto neighbourhoods.

I think local can have a numerical value, but there’s also an emotional value and feeling of community when you talk about local food. It’s knowing people who produce that food, from the farmer, to your friend who makes donuts,” said Justin, who has been the hands and feet of this type of movement through Bikeables.

Dundurn Market was born out of a desire to build a brick and mortar store that would carry the types of items typically delivered through Bikeables.

Dundurn Market has been a part of the Dundurn neighbourhood for years, but in December 2017 the market was shut down, offering the perfect opportunity for Roger and Justin to revitalize it. The two bought the market, but kept the name, and have been welcomed with open arms by their neighbours in the Dundurn and Kirkendall neighbourhood, many who are already Bikeables customers.

The market offers a variety of ready made items that are made in house, from overnight oats or salad in a mason jar, fresh baked goods, bulk food items, and ready made freezer meals.

There is a large section of local produce on display as well. On the morning that I ventured into the market I found bright red strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries on display. Roger was hard at work unloading produce and putting the items away, just right. You can tell just by watching him for a few moments that he’s hands on, and perfectionism is key.

Justin is also hands on, and shared in our interview that he’d be hopping on a bike to deliver some items later that day. The bikes used for deliveries are Larry Vs. Harry cargo bikes, and are built in Copenhagen. Since business has expanded to Ancaster they also use an electric car for further deliveries.

Dundurn Market has an old-fashioned feel, and it’s obvious that it is fitting perfectly into the community. Customers came in throughout our time there, stopping to drink their coffee at one of the tables provided, or grabbing a bag of produce and heading on their way. Justin noted that the market is becoming a fixture of the neighbourhood, and that most of the people that come by arrive by foot, not car.

A sweeping gaze at the products offered in the market make it clear that locally produced products are key to the mission of Dundurn Market and Bikeables.

One of our mandates is trying to support local feed vendors, so we deliver many products, from other coffee roasters, local teas, fresh sourdough bread, donut monster, and local vegan pasta sauces. We also support local farmers and offer a local farm CSA,” Justin shared.

Through their different ventures there have been some key values: nurturing a community feeling when it comes to food, keeping the environmental impact small, and creating a positive force for others to emulate and be inspired by.

“I don’t think we are creating a movement. I think that is already happening, but we are a part of it,” Justin humbly said.

It takes a special kind of person to evaluate the way that we are doing our basic shopping and food consumption, and turn it into something meaningful and sustainable, but Justin and Roger are doing the work, and reaping the rewards of that effort.

To find out more about Dundurn Market and Bikeables click here.

Story by Brianna Bell
Photography by Daniel Bell

Sept 12, 2018