It takes a manufactured village

Posted on June 30, 2024 | By Alec Bruce | 0 Comments


Waterfront Container Village, Saint John, N.B. July, 2023 (Stock photography)


It’s cold for June and overcast, but standing on a deck of the Oasis of the Seas—one of the 74-or-so cruise ships that annually visit the City of Saint John—Ray Gracewood flashes a Richard Branson-like grin that says he’s exactly where he wants to be.

Below him, neat rows of repurposed, 40-foot-long shipping containers—artfully painted with fluorescent yellow flowers, pink moons, blue mountains and other abstract ciphers—stretch to the near horizon on an uptown parcel of land he leases from the Port of Saint John.

In the aisles between the corrugated metal boxes, their tenants—local bookstore owners, chocolatiers, gift basket makers, hawkers of various curios from all over the province—are scrambling to get their wares and themselves in shape for the day. After all, each one pays Gracewood to be here every summer rather than anywhere else in the province. None of them will risk being late to open this morning.

In fact, Waterfront Container Village has only a few rules. “If the village is open, you must be open,” said Ingrid Munroe, who runs The NB Box, a bricks and mortar and online shop in Saint John that curates gift baskets of products from around the region. She’s been a tenant-villager since 2022 when this unique farmer’s market/craft fair/retail mall launched. “Also, you can’t obstruct the walkways. But apart from that, we have a lot of freedom and flexibility.”


“It was something that I felt should feel natural and authentic… colourful and vibrant. Our Graffiti Alley is now probably the most ‘selfied’ spot in the whole province.”

—Ray Gracewood

Continue reading this story: click below to login/subscribe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comment policy

Comments are moderated to ensure thoughtful and respectful conversations. First and last names will appear with each submission; anonymous comments and pseudonyms will not be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that Atlantic Business Magazine has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner it chooses. Publication of a comment does not constitute endorsement of that comment. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.


With ABM

Help support the magazine and entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada.


Stay in the Know

Subscribe Now

Subscribe to receive the magazine and gain access to exclusive online content.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is empty