This sprawling neoclassical building houses shops selling tourist-targeted arts and crafts, leather goods and garments, and several cafes. The upstairs hall hosts periodic fashion shows and art auctions, and a number of restaurants front the facade on Rue St-Paul. Opened in 1847, the building has played a wide-ranging role in the city's history. It's been everything from a farmers market to a concert theater, and even served briefly as Montréal’s city hall (1852–78).

It’s also where the government of United Canada retreated, in order to continue the legislative session, after the parliament buildings nearby were burned down by an angry anglophone mob in 1849.