Depending on the outcomes of the upcoming elections, it’s quite possible that many of us will find on Wednesday that some of our friends are Canadaphiles, or people who have an extreme fondness for (and in many cases, harbor empty threats to move to) Canada. Truth be told, there’s plenty to love about our great neighbor to the north, especially if you have an interest in malls and retail. Sure, they call Kmart “Zellers” (though they’re no longer the same company), and instead of TJMaxx, they have Winners. But in Canada, practically every major shopping center is enclosed (as a sweeping generalization!) and one of the largest malls in the world (The West Edmonton Mall) is up in the great white north.
Downtown Toronto’s Eaton Centre is perhaps Canada’s second-most famous shopping mall. Located in the center of the city between Yonge, Queen, Dundas, and Bay Streets, the 330-store center is the most popular tourist attraction in Toronto, Canada’s largest city. The mall stands on the site of the original flagship Eaton’s store, which was once one of Canada’s premier department store chains. The mall itself, along with the modern 1,000,000 square-foot Eaton’s flagship store, opened in 1977, with a second phase following in 1979. The mall immediately became one of the most successful in North America, and (as required by the city of Toronto), the mall’s interior remains open 24 hours a day since its construction userped several public streets.
The mall’s greatest feature is perhaps its vaulted glass ceiling, which stands an astonishing 127 feet above the first level. It’s easily one of the tallest and grandest malls that I’ve seen, and its busy, active Yonge Street frontage (which is the closest that Canada has to a “Times Square” district) is a sight to behold at night.
The mall today includes Sears (who purchased the bankrupt Eaton’s in 1999, and rebranded them 2001 or 2002ish), H&M, Canadian Tire, and Best Buy spread across 1,600,000 square feet. The Eaton Centre is also connected via skywalk to the nearby flagship of The Bay (or, in Quebec, La Baie), also known as The Hudson’s Bay Company, one of Canada’s largest remaining department store chains.
All of these photos were taken by Prangeway in 2001. Note the presence of Eaton’s rather than Sears!