Garden City Shopping Centre; Winnipeg, Manitoba

Garden City Shopping Centre pylon in Winnipeg, MB

I didn’t want Canada to feel left out, since they seem to actually have more malls than the United States (per capita anyway).  Hey, it’s colder there.  Anyway, Garden City Shopping Centre is an enclosed mall with 80 stores located on the northwest side of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  It is approximately 30 years old, and anchored by major stores Sears, Canadian Tire, Winners, Petcetera, and Shoppers Drug Mart.  It’s perfectly successful, and your average suburban mall in every way with one notable difference.  It’s in Canada.  Therefore, it’s automatically fascinating to a Yankee (like me) with an interest in chains, malls, and retail in general. 

In order to begin comprehending how malls seem to work in Canada (and they do work differently), I’ll provide a very short primer here.  While the enclosed mall is essentially the exact same thing that we have in the States (but with different stores, of course), Canadians seem to construct them more often.  That is to say, their mall-per-capita ratio is higher than ours.  What in the States would be a strip mall anchored by grocery, discount, or other, is often in Canada a fully enclosed mall.  Sure, they have plenty of strip malls and even the latent big-box anchored behemoths (they often call them Power Centres), but they certainly have a lot of enclosed malls aimed at serving only a neighborhood contingent.  Here in the States, most of our enclosed malls (with exceptions, of course) cater to at very least a regional, if not super-regional consumer base.  In the States, it would be more odd to find an enclosed mall anchored by a grocery store or discount store and nothing else, whereas in Canada, it’s quite commonplace.  That said, there seem to be a lot more enclosed malls in Canada per city or metro area because there actually are. 

Beautiful downtown Winnipeg
Winnipeg is no exception to this rule of thumb.  There are no less than 10 enclosed malls of significant size within Winnipeg, which has a metro population of approximately 700,000.  Compare that to similarly sized (or larger) metropolitan areas in the United States and you will mostly come up short.  That’s just one of the reasons Canada is fascinating to me.  I also enjoy it because it’s like an alternate reality or paradigm shift to the United States.  Essentially things are done the same and the same types of things are available, with quirky differences to make it interesting.  In retail this is exemplified in the fact that their chains are similar to ours, but not the same.  They have chains of their own mall stores that are in every mall there, just like we do.  But they’re different.  It’s great.

I took these pictures in July 2001.  If someone’s acutally reading this from Winnipeg, please comment away.  I’ve never met any Canadians interested in malls and retailing in general, and it would be a great perspective from the other point of view.   

Garden City Shopping Centre Sears in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB

Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB

Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre in Winnipeg, MB Garden City Shopping Centre Sears in Winnipeg, MB


40 thoughts on “Garden City Shopping Centre; Winnipeg, Manitoba”

  1. Here’s a Canadian that *is* interested in this stuff, though I’m from the wrong side of the country to give any sort of info on this particular mall.

    I will, however, make a few notes about Canadian retailing and malls in general and a few things to note from these pics:

    * There’s a reason we’ve got more enclosed malls. You know how cold it gets up here? 🙂

    * The exterior Sears sign in picture 02, to my knowledge, is strictly a Canadian thing. The first Canadian Sears stores were a joint venture between Sears Roebuck and Simpson’s, an existing Canadian department store. They were actually known as “Simpsons-Sears” for a long time. When the Hudson’s Bay Company (owners of The Bay and Zellers) bought Simpson’s in 1978, that joint venture ended and the name changed to “Sears”. That was the font used for the Simpsons-Sears logo, and to this day you can see the labelscar where the “SIMPSONS-” was on some older stores. (To this day, Sears USA only owns about half of Sears Canada, though they are trying to buy out the remaining shares.)

    * Canadian Tire and Winners aren’t as common in malls as other discounters like Zellers or Wal-Mart, but they’re still there in some places. It wouldn’t surprise me if CT and/or Winners were formerly a more standard department store like the now-defunct Eaton’s.

  2. I’m also a Canadian interested in retailing, although I’m a newbie…
    First, I’ll do a ratio for Quebec City where I live: 4 malls with more than
    2 anchors, always Sears, The Bay and/or Zellers. Then 5-6 smaller malls with an anchor and /or “power centers” with outlets and a Wal-Mart nearby, which seems to be the new trend here.

    That’s 10 malls for 600,000 people in the metro area. Of course there are smaller malls and strip malls, often anchored by a supermarket or a discount store and generally includes a bank and a drugstore. In the province of Quebec, the supermarket was often a Steinberg’s ('s), easily recognizable now in some older malls by their “car service” facilities still in place.

    Finally, I’ll add something to what JP said about Canadian Tire (which sells tires, but also car parts, sporting and camping goods, gardening products, paint and tools). I noticed that Canadian Tire closed several stores in “older” areas to move in larger locations closer to the new “power centers” and closer to the expanding suburbs. This has left some abandoned stores throughout Quebec City at least. I’m wondering if it’s happening somewhere else in Canada.

  3. I was just in this mall a month ago when I visited a friend in Winnipeg who lives nearby. It hasn’t changed much since those photos were taken…in fact the mall is looking a bit dated now, especially in the food court area.

    I’ve heard that Calgary (where I live) is considered ‘under malled’ compared to other Canadian cities. We have 5 major malls and 4 or 5 smaller ones in a city of one million people. All of the malls seem to be thriving though, and most of them have been renovated extensively over the past few years. The main mall here, Chinook Centre, is one of the three top-performing malls in Canada now I believe.

    Another difference I’ve noticed about Canada compared to the US is that downtown retail tends to be stronger here. Downtown Calgary has 3 department stores (Sears, The Bay and Holt Renfrew) connected by a series of malls that are always busy.

  4. yeah, canadian tire before big boxing had a lot of mall stores. i know in the montreal area there is a canadian tire in the “galerie des sources” mall still. cavendish mall lost its canadian tire recently. Of note in the montreal area at least if a mall had a steinbergs it more often than not was owned by ivanhoe or some other steinbergs owned real estate division. And often steinbergs was closely placed with a steinbergs owned miracle mart. Now for some mall perspective. lasalle quebec a city of about 70 000 at one time had 6 enclosed malls, 2 were anchored by steinberg stores (one had a zellers and the other a miracle mart as co anchors) another mall had a woolco and dominion later provigo and another a k mart (reno depot) and dominion, the other 2 malls were a super regional mall and a small food mall.

  5. In reference to the comments about the Sears logo, that’s just the older logo – it was Sears’ standard, what, 15-20 years ago?

    As far as Candian Sears stores go, I think Canada is unique (in comparison to the US, at least) in that many Sears stores there are actually called Dealer Stores – basically, they’re franchised and independently owned. As far as I know, that’s very uncommon in the US.

  6. there are a ton of Sears dealer stores in my area. They’re called Hometown Dealers if I’m not mistaken.

  7. I’m another Canadian who’s interested in this sort of thing. I too am from Calgary where we seem to be undermalled. I live in the south end of the city we have two huge power-centres down here with Canadian Tire, Zellers, Wal-Mart, Safeway, Calgary CO-OP (cooperative grocery store), and the Home Depot are the big stores. Most of this stuff has gone up in the last 5-10 years, especially in the area of Shawnessy, but there is also Westhills and now an area called Deerfoot Centre (I think) is just being finished up, they have a Real Canadian Superstore, Future Shop (which are the same company, right next door to each other), Costco, and a gigantic IKEA. I think there might also be a TJ Maxx over there but I’m not positive, I don’t know if they have locations in Canada or not.

    One possibility that Calgary has fewer enclosed malls than other Canadian cities is that the climate here really is not too bad. We don’t get a whole lot of snow, theres usually no more than a foot of it on the ground in the winter, and it only get REALLY cold for maybe about 2 weeks in January. Each winter it seems to get warmer, thanks to the global warming.

    The two prominent malls in the south end are Chinook Centre and Southcentre. Southcentre is anchored by The Bay, Sears (which used to be an Eaton’s), and junior anchors Sport Chek and Indigo Bookstore (like a Barnes & Noble). Chinook Centre ( is anchored by The Bay, Sears, Old Navy, Zellers & 17 screen movie theatre with IMAX. It has be rumoured that Chinook Centre is going to be expanding again which might bring Sephora, Restoration Hardware and Crate & Barrel to the mall, this is because the mall has the highest sales per square foot of any mall in Canada.

    Anyways, there is a small mall in my area called the Midnapore Mall that has been nearly abandoned. I will try to take some pictures this week with my cellphone and send them to you. One other note about Canadian Tire, the 3 in the southern part of Calgary have all recently been remodeled for their new concept store. I used to actually work at Canadian Tire and had heard about plans for the remodelling for about 2 years in the works.

  8. Also, besides Southcentre, Chinook and the downtown malls of TD Square and Eaton Centre (it still is called Eaton Centre even though Eatons is now defunct) downtown that Jeff had said. The other 4 malls in the Northern part of Calgary include Market Mall (just underwent major renovations, North Hill Mall, Sunridge Mall (recently renovated as well) and Marlborough Mall.

  9. My late dad used to work for foodstores (mainly Steinbergs) in Montreal, so shopping centres and shopping malls always had an effect on me, as 40 years ago, a foodstore was one of the main anchors.

    I have seen the evolution of outdoor malls which were build in the 50s (Steinberg owned at least one out of two shopping centers in Montreal, as the supermarket was the main anchor). If the first shopping center was the Norgate (which housed among others a Zellers and a Loblaws market), the first enclosed outdoor one was Rockland at Mount-Royal (was almost a deadmall before the refurbishing some 20 years ago…). However, at the time, many shopping centers were build around town. If the main supermarket was not Steinbergs, Dominion took the place. For department stores, you were looking for Morgans (now Hudsons Bay), Eatons (now Sears) or Simpsons for big stores, big marts like Towers (which Zellers bought later), Woolco (now Wal Mart), K Mart or Miracle Mart (which Steinbergs owned), a major hardware store like Pascals and the five and dimes like Woolworths, United, Greenberg, A.L.Green, Kresge and Rossy among others. Zellers was first a small department store before going into the big mart stores in mid-60s.

    Then the enclosed malls came with mostly the Fairview Pointe-Claire being the first state-of-the-art mall (it had one floor at the time) with big anchors like Eatons, Simpsons, Woolworths, Pascals and Steinbergs. Then some of the outdoor malls underwent changes to become indoor malls due to our harsh winter climates. Up to 1985 (the last one being Carrefour Angrignon in Lasalle) , so many big malls were built around the suburbs of Montreal.

    However, the concept of the Food Supermarket in the Mall that was absent from many american malls began to dissapear when Steinbergs closed down and was sold to Metro, Provigo Loblaws and IGA in 1992. Malls didnt care anymore if a food store was in. However, up to this day, just about 10 to 15 malls have a supermarket.

    We have also demolished three malls (one in East Montreal, which was never occupied, and in Laval, where a big department store/supermarket complex once stood since 1974, in 1986, les Terrasses in Downtown Montreal to be replaced by Eaton Centre…). Also several malls were victims of fire: 1957 in East Montreal, 1969 in Dorval (a whole Morgans store was burned to the ground as the rest of the mall survived) and in the beginning of the 1980s in Longueuil (the two Steinbergs anchors and a cinema stood up, the rest burned to the ground…) and Place Alexis Nihon in 1987 (the office tower) and 2006 (a small fire in the Zellers store). There were minor fires at other malls but no major damages. And some are becoming more or less dead malls.

    These days, powercenters and lifestyle shopping areas are taking over. Many malls are still surviving (mostly the ones owned by Cadillac Fairview and Ivanoe Cambridge among others…), but most of these must reinvent themselves to beat the big discount stores competition. And speaking about Canadian Tire, they were also considered a major anchor a while ago, but they deserted (well almost, there is still one in Place Alexis Nihon) to have independent structures. Same for Future Shop, and of course…Wal Mart !

    Anyway, if we keep our malls, it is mostly because of our harsh winters, otherwise it would have become like the fate of many dead malls in America: abandonned then demolished.

    Hope you come to Montreal some day and visit our malls.

  10. I would love to go to Montreal, and I hope to soon. Since I live in Boston, it’s only a quick 5 hour drive to get there and Montreal is already one of my favorite places to spend a long weekend.

    I’ve been more wary of going to visit malls, however, because of the border-crossing issues and the fact that my French is pretty poor. While the latter hasn’t hurt me much downtown, it may in the suburban areas. And especially since I’d likely have to go alone, both of these issues are somewhat intimidating.

    Interestingly, the closest malls to home that I haven’t visited yet are the ones in Sherbrooke.

  11. I’m also a Canadian interested in retailing and malls. The only thing is that i’m more interested in U.S. retail and malls… just visit my website( and you’ll see! I live in a Canadian city of nearly 30,000 of population and Wal-Mart opened a store here in january 2006!! Being close to the U.S. border, i often travel to New England and this is where i saw that a city the size of mine had many more retail stores and restaurants per capita.

    We have two enclosed mall but only one is thriving (Zellers/Sears/Staples). It’s very similar to the Garden City Sh.Centre: 80 stores, Sears, approximately 30 years old. Before it expanded, it looked like a shopping plaza with a supermarket, Greenberg and Zellers… not a mall. Now that the grocery store left, the mall lost it’s “plaza” feel but it now includes Staples wich tends to have locations in power centers…

  12. Well, I’d like to talk to you about the close-to-dead mall Galeries St. Laurent in Montreal’s St. Laurent borough. Zellers pulled out of the mall in 1995 when it moved to Place Vertu after a 2-year overlap, replacing the old Pascal hardware location. Canadian Tire pulled out of Galeries St. Laurent in 2000, moving it to Place Vertu at the old Kmart. Place Vertu had 2 department stores — Zellers & Kmart. Kmart pulled out of Canada in 1998. Galeries St. Laurent began to experience its slow death, and south of the Jean Coutu has turned into a strip mall. Just recently, the Bay store at Place Vertu closed down, and Zellers will be occupying it soon.

  13. Funny- I just got back from Garden City. It is one of the least desirable malls in Winnipeg, but it services that area well. It is a place to get what you need, but that’s it. The theatre has two small screens, but the tickets are very cheap. It seems to mostly draw a more elderly crowd. It’s too bad you didn’t see a couple of the better malls.

    It is kind of surprising the trend towards “big block” malls, or “super centers”, since statistics show a smaller profit per square foot than traditional mall stores. The super centers also tend to draw men more than women because you can dash in, grab what you need, and get out before your wife can find any shoes! In “Winter-peg” it is a treat to hang out in a large open space with heat! Our downtown is largely all connected by skywalks and heated parking. It’s funny how once you start earning your own money, you don’t hang out at the mall much, though. The prices tend to drive us out to Wal-Mart, which is a shame given a lot of their less-than-steller ethics.

  14. I actually visited all the malls in Winterpeg that weekend back in July 2001 and just chose this one at random; I just haven’t posted any of the other ones…yet. I’m wondering if any of them have closed since. When I visited they had just demolished one of them out past Polo Park on that huge strip by Portage and Perimeter Hwy. Many of them were the small, Canadian-style small enclosed center anchored by a discount department store and a grocery store, the kind we mostly lack here in the States. I would imagine the climate dictated this at first, yet in the northern third of the US it gets just about as cold as it does in the populated parts of Canada, so it seems to have become a Canadian regionality that these malls have kept on where the small malls in the States have disappeared en masse.

  15. I wouldn’t be surprised if in the decades from the 60s to the late 80s/early 90s, if some towns in far northern states of the USA(a la Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, etc.) did used to have small malls, like what occurred in many small towns in Canada.

    I remember when there was an entry on labelscar about that one mall that was built in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin(funny I always forget its name!), that’s a perfect example of what I suspect many of these small-town Canadian malls were like.

  16. The mall you described was the Unicity Mall, whose anchors for a long time were (I think) K-Mart and Woolco. The mall was taken over by First Pro (now SmartCentres – in the late 90s, who owns many of the new Wal-Mart power centres across the country. They turned it into another one of those abominations.

    I have relatives in Winnipeg who live near the Unicity site, and when I visited them in 2001 they railed about how they destroyed a perfectly good mall.

    From what I’ve seen on this site and others, much of the upper midwest in the US is sprinkled with those small town malls. As someone from the east coast whose US retail experience is mostly shaped by what I’ve seen in New England (where only a handful of those malls exist), I found that to be somewhat surprising.

  17. Hey JP,
    I think Unicity had a Woolco and a Domion Store and the Bay (for sure I know that), I think Kmart was on Cavalier Drive. ?????

  18. The old Unicity Mall – before it was turned into a box centre was anchored by The Bay at one end, Woolco at the other, and a Safeway grocery store in back. The KMart your thinking of was 3 or 4 blocks down Portage Avenue on the corner of Cavalier and Portage. It was at one end of a strip mall, that also had a Dominion grocery store in it. Across the street on the other side of Portage Avenue was another Safeway store with a strip mall and anchored at the other end by a Zellers store.

    It was sad to see the old Unicity Mall torn down, but in all honesty there wasn’t anything in it to hang onto. Because of the rising rent costs half of the stores were empty. There was alot of wasted space.

    To share in some of the wonderful memories from the Mall join me on facebook in the group I hung out at Unicity Mall when it was a Mall! See you there!

  19. I didn’t realize the States were so different.. in a way. I totally understand the charm metaphor. I mean.. I think we really only have one “out door mall” thats on Kenaston (where you have to walk from outlet to outlet out doors, correct?).

    I actually found your blog because I was looking for information on Walmart, apparently the St. Vital mall (its in the south part of Winnipeg, probably the second bigger mall in terms of how many people go there) is one of the few malls in North America where Wal-Mart is actually connected to the mall, not a “store” in itself. I haven’t found information on it yet, but it seems interesting.

    And I do have to say, yay for WInnipeg publicity! ^_^

  20. The first comment speculating that the Canadian Tire location was a former Eaton’s was correct. It was one of the Eaton’s stores closed when they were making rounds of store closings and at the time it was converted into a Canadian Tire, it was the largest Canadian Tire in western Canada.

    Having lived in Manitoba and now live in Michigan, I do notice the lack of indoor malls here per capita. In fact, the small- to mid-sized malls have been closing down with only the 100-plus store malls surviving. I think it has to do with the urban sprawl mindset in the US versus the urban planning mindset in Canada. I have noticed the shift toward big box stores in Canada, though. No new malls have been built in Winnipeg while older, smaller retail locations have been demolished with big box stores being shoehorned in in their place.

  21. Stefany S:

    Wal-Mart being connected to the mall is fairly common in Canada, not so much in the US. (Same with other discount stores – a majority of Zellers stores are still in malls, but it’s rarer to find, say, a K-Mart or Target in one south of the border.)

    When Wal-Mart entered Canada by taking over Woolco in 1994, most of their stores were located in malls. They’ve moved many of them to standalone locations, but they’ve actually expanded some of their other mall stores like St. Vital.

  22. well i am from Winnipeg Manitoba Canada and the mall has changed ALOT from 2001,

  23. Having lived in Winnipeg all my life specifically in the Garden City area, I can say, Garden City is one of the smallest malls in Winnipeg. They like many other malls in Winnipeg open early so people can come in and walk the mall (for exercise) before the stores open. Given the winter temperatures here, that is a great feature.

    Sears (Simpson Sears) seems to reinvent itself in this mall every few years. If goes from a higher end store to a clearance outlet and back again.

    The mall is well maintained and the food court is a popular area for the seniors in the area to meet, have a coffee and chat. The food court offers a wide array of choices, Mexican, Japanese, fresh baked goods and of course A & W as well as other food vendors.

    The mall must be doing fairly well since no sooner does one store leave and another opens up. The stores in this mall cater to the whole community from children and teens to adults and seniors. There are jewllers, athletic stores and of course Canadian Tire which provides products for cars, house wares, dishes, yard, camping, hunting and everything in between, including clothing and footwear.

    Generally for a shopping day at the mall, most choose to go to Polo Park Mall.

  24. Winnipeg has unfortunately lost several enclosed malls in recent years, including all 3 in the st james/charleswood area – all to be replaced by horrible strip malls – they’re fine for California, but not Winnipeg. Among the 7 or so major enclosed malls in Winnipeg, Garden city is one of the worst – it looks really tired and the stores/food court aren’t that great. Polo Park/St Vital Centre/Kildonan Place are the best and most popular malls in the city. Unfortunately, a few malls in Winnipeg have a problem with seniors roaming around in packs – some even wear tracksuits. I’m not sure why malls allow it since they don’t buy anything . Quite a few seniors even lobbied against the closing of Unicity Mall, strictly because they walked there, it was pathetic.

  25. Alot has changed since you have been to Winnipeg. Garden City has been renovated and rebranded. Charleswood mall was turned into a bad strip mall. St. Vital is always growing beacuse of many new suburbs in the area, but still seems to market a little lower-end (even in traditionally more expensive stores like The Gap, there are ALWAYS sales). Polo Park was COMPLETELY gutted, with a ~50 million dollar, 20 000 sq foot expansion. There are many new stores on the parking lot, which is good that it takes wasted space, but it sucks that they dont keep expanding the mall. The old arena site which is right beside the mall has been vacant for a few years and winnipegers were hoping for a massive expansion to put it on par with mall of america and west edmonton, but now a local company notorious for putting repetitive, ugly, wasteful powercenters everywhere wants to make it an outdoor mall and seperate it from the mall (TERRIBLE IDEA). In a few years the stadium site besid that will be empty and there is huge potential for something spectacular, but the city fails again. Polo park is beautiful now with some great new stores and restaurants. When you were here i think 2 of the major anchors wre Sears and Eatons. When eatons closed sears temporarily moved in their to renovate, tehn moved back. Eatons is now The Bay. The Sport Chek moved to the new South side of the mall and Mcnally Robinson took its place with a major addition to the front. Safeway closed yesterday and they plan on subdividing it into many stores which is great beacause that wing of the mall is dead, not even starbucks brings people there. Over 80% of the stores were renovated last/this year and it really looks great. There is a new Moxies, and joeys and the famous earls Polo is renovating next year. Grant Park Mall is trying to reinvent but it is going nowhere, they just keep adding bad, ugly stores that last for 2 weeks and the change from cineplex odeon to empire thatres did nothing. More ppl in that mall are seniors that fight for tables at Tim Hortons tehn ppl actually shopping. The biggest new “mall” in the city is Kenaston @ MCGillvary. IT is made of 3 massive power centres (Linden Ridge, Kenaston Smart Center and the new Kenaston Common) and a Cinema City that each occupy a coner of a MAJOR intersection. IT has grown at an unbelievable rate (fastest in Canada) and is anchored by Home Outfitters, HomeSense, Safeway, Sobeys, Candian Tire, Home Depot and now also Costco and Rona. They are also building The Brick.
    Two major issues right now are Portage Place and cityplace (across from eachother on portage ave, downtown). cityplace has no frontage or entrances on portage (the biggest street downtown), over 50% is vacant, all the stores are other offices or servies like UPS Store. It pretty much serves as a giant skywalk right now. the only cafe in it closed. Portage place is HUGE. 3 stories, staples, IMAX, movie theatre, theatre center. many empty stores, bad, small food court, mmost of its stores along portage are inside access only now, and many ppl are afraid to go there because of all the homeless. Its two big stores McNally Robinson and Holt Renfrew have both closed. A “new” area is emerging downtown with great restaraunts and great local and chain businesses and stores. The Exchange District. Its all early 1900s warehouses converted to stores/ofices/lofts/apts and is boredered by the now presigious WATERFRONT DRIVE with brand new condos and 1st floor retail all along it, facing the river. Its great.

    Anyways i think thats enough info for now 😉 you should come visit soon!!!

  26. I’m from Winnipeg, and i guess we’re quite special. Altho i live in the south end of the city and theres not really any enclosed malls near by. Well theres on but inside theres a safeway, a zellars, a hair place, and a dollar store. not very exciting. to get to a decent mall from here, you have to go to st vital centre. but apart from that, the only nearby enclosed mall is polo park. the main reason i use the enclosed malls is becasue in the summer its too hot to go outside for too long, and in the winter, you can get frickin frostbite in 2-5 minutes, never mind wandering around a stripmall for an hour. So i think that if u want malls, come to winnipeg. but they’re really not that exciting. edmonton may have less malls, but they have the west edmonton mall. minneapolis has the mall of america. and the malls in the states always seem to have better store. hollister, abercrombie. but we do have an american apparel. too bad its in osbourne villagem, and not in a nearby enclosed mall. oh well, come visit us in winnipeg soon =)

  27. I used to live in the North End of Winnipeg back in the 70’s when Garden City Shopping Center was at it’s hayday. I remember they had a Dominion Grocery store located inside the mall. It had one of the conveyor belts that the clerks used to put your groceries onto and then you would drive your car to the front of the store and have one of the associates put your groceries into your car. There used to be a Cole’s Bookstore, the Ye Ole Hobby Shop close to Laura Secord. This was before the food court. Eatons was labelled as Eatons Fashion Center. The Beaver Lumber store was the home hardware store. There used to be a restaurant located in the Sears store at one time. The Famous Players Cinema, before they cut it into two screens always played Disney Movies. I remember seeing the Witch Mountain movies there along with several other Disney films. Man, I miss the good old days lol.

  28. I’m surprized that Cityplace isn’t included here; it’s about 50-75% empty…and the only point of redemption there is that the food court is pretty busy all the time.

    The security guards are seriously harsh (they complain when use an electrical outlet for whatever reason). If I broke out the camera to take pictures, they’d probably beat me up. 🙂

  29. @Tyguy,
    I suggest you come to Edmonton.

  30. If you want malls, then Edmonton is the place. Edmonton guys..Edmonton….

  31. Winnipeg has changed a lot. I’ve lived here all my life, St vital centre changed in 1998, the only original part of that mall is The bay. We had many malls in the 80s right thru to the late 90’s but then big box stores started appearing in place of them.

    Anyone else from here remember when ‘Southwood’ was an actual mall with a K-Mart, shoppers drug mart, jumbo video.. and i’m sure there’s more i’m missing.

    Fort Richmond plaza also was a booming mall, now it’s sad to walk through there, everything else is closed except for a few small stores and the
    Safeway and Zellers.. i’d love to see that little mall revitalized again.

  32. Metro Edmonton has the same approx population of Metro Calgary, was for years over malled, in the 80’s a huge mall boom happened with two new regional centres and several expansions of existing malls. In the 90’s with the loss of Woodwards, Eatons and the Walmart takeover of Canadian Woolco stores there has been a consolidation of majors in most of the areas malls

    Heritage Mall 1981 – 2003 Eatons,Sears, Woolco
    demoished after Eatons left Southgate after Woodwards went bankrupt, after Eatons went belly up Sears took over the space. Woolco changed to Walmart , Walmart left after building a Supercentre in South Edmonton Common, the largest power centre in North America. so big it takes approx 5 minutes to DRIVE from one end to another,

    Londonderry built in 1972 originally anchored by Eatons The Bay, Woolco doubled in 82 and went through another reno in the late 90’s The Bay remains with replacement anchors Army & Navy, Winners, Save On Foods. has sliiped somewhat and lost a lot of trade to the much larger Kingsway Mall.

    Kingsway built in 76 with Canada’s largest Sears at the time and Zellers, was expanded in the 80’s to include The Bay, all three anchors remain and the mall just unveiled a renovation in Dec 2009, sleek, and modern.

    Southgate is the southside’s primary mall with Alberta’s largest Sears, and the Edmonton Flagship of The Bay doubled to 120 stores in 84 and just opened up another 50 August 2009 with many new tenants to create a very upscale centre also is the only mall outside of downtown with a LRT link.

    West Edmonton Mall, constantly changes stores the latest openings include Bed Bath & Beyond, Anthropologie, and soon to open Western Canada’s first Victoria’s Secret and Pink stores both flagship branches at around 16,000 sq feet.
    The decor while cleaned up in phases 1, 2, and parts of 3 is still quite dated in respect to flooring and mirrors the second food court hasn’t changed since 1985 neon and everything.

    Other( Majors)
    Bonnie Doon SC Sears, Zellers 100 stores
    Westmount Zellers, Home Depot 70 stores
    St Albert Centre The Bay, Zellers, Winners 70 shops
    Capilano, Walmart
    Mill Woods Town Centre Zellers CanadianTire
    Northtown Indigo,Bed Bath Beyond
    Northwood Zellers
    CityCentre/Manulife Place Holt Renfrew The Bay Winners Atmosphere/Sport Chek and the CBC Edmonton Studios.
    Meadowlark Zellers
    Abbotsfield Zellers
    Sherwood Park Zellers

    South Edmonton Common with almost every big box store known in Canada from Ikea, Walmart to 4 Starbucks bring your car you cannot cover it on foot.

    Several new power centres are in the works all car oriented.

  33. I grew up in the North End of Winnipeg and have been a lifelong visitor to Garden City.
    My dad used to take me there a lot and he knew some of the staff around the place. That was back in the early 90s – things have changed so much since then.

    There’s also the now-box-store-only complex across the street from Garden City which used to be an older style mall. But over time, portions of it kept getting sold out.

    The history and transitions of the two buildings are fascinating and would make a great consumer & economic study.

    The older of the two buildings which has always had a low-grade Safeway (you find them in two or three grades) used to have a Woolco in it. Soon after, Woolco folded which is when it became a WalMart. The inside of this mall was largely forgettable and was your typical Canadian crimson-brick-and-glass mall. I love the style, and you can still find malls like this in Yorkton and Moose Jaw. It’s sad that the stores in them had to drag these little pieces of architecture and history down with them.
    WalMart has since left this mall and moved down the street into it’s own gigantic compound.

    Garden City itself also used to be much nicer than it is now. Much of the exterior is still the same, including the food court and around Sears. Inside however, lots of changes have been made.

    There used to be a large pit where you could see old men playing chess with oversized pieces on the checkered floor tiles. Eaton’s used to be there, as well as a Beaver Lumber where Canadian Tire now is.
    The mall used to have an arcade and for a little while, as well as a collectible card game and comics store.
    Sears used to keep way more product outside on their nice pebbled concrete areas. Shopping for barbecues on a sunny day was a nice way to blow a Sunday afternoon.

    Again, my perspective is that all the changes have been for the worse as the mall stumbles towards becoming so generic as to be redundant. It has also succumbed to some cell phone and dollar store rot. Things like this as well as your regular gambit of Comark and YM stores just cheapen it further.
    To me, you can’t really play the cheap and lousy card when there’s a giant Wal Mart down the street.

    The funny thing about Garden City is that it could become a very big thing if they reinvested in it a little. It has access to pretty much all of the North of Winnipeg and surrounding areas.
    Some fountains, another floor maybe as well as some commons areas.

    They are also lucky enough to have that bus loop which was recently improved. There are lots of students coming and going there. If they modernized the place, they’d do very well from it.

    But another problem with Canada and it’s business/property owners is that they are a fickle and near-sighted bunch.

  34. This has been an interesting read!

    I would have to agree that Cityplace takes the prize as Winnipeg’s deadest mall right now. On the final Sunday before Christmas 2010, most of the stores were closed for lack of customers. The retail vacancy rate was 32% in 2005 and is probably worse now, but was offset by high office occupancy rates on the floors above.

    Portage Place appears to be suffering as well, given that employees outnumbered customers in some stores on the last weekend before Christmas. An October 2008 Dominion Bond Rating Service report also noted that “Portage Place has been on the DBRS HotList for its continued financial decline for quite some time”. This followed a scathing 2007 report predicting that it will be “difficult for this property alone to cover its refinance debt obligation without some cash infusion from the borrower” and that “the property’s cash flow has continued to be depressed and therefore it is likely that the value of the property no longer supports the loan amount.”

  35. I dont know how old this article is, but Garden City Shopping mall looks WAAYY different now. I love going there and hanging out with friends. There are so many new stores, stores being remodelled, and has just about everything you need!

    I like St Vital shopping center better though because it is alot larger… but Garden City is closer so I go there more often. Polo Park, St Vital, Garden City, Portage Place, they’re all really great….

    Just dangerous to go shopping in Portage place.

    And Winnipeg can be beautiful…. unless you’re in the NorthEnd….. Its horrible here in the NE…

  36. I thought you should know Garden City is the smaller one. St. Vital Mall and Polo Park are very large and have more to offer. If you could get some pics in there it would be great! I didn’t realize that something simple as a mall is different then our neighbours. lol

  37. what happened to the Dominion store at Garden City? I know the area currently used by the mall is a food court, but I seem to remember another grocery store replacing Dominion before it was remodelled to the food court.

  38. I’m not from Canada, but I would like to offer my perspective. Having grown up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Winnipeg was my closest big city and my family frequently visited throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and I’ve been to each of Winnipeg’s malls at least once.

    It’s been years since I’ve been back, but I have so many memories I wouldn’t even know where to start or when to stop.

    The malls that we went to the most often were (in order of frequency) Portage Place, Polo Park, and St Vital Centre. Portage Place because it was right downtown, convenient to a lot of the things we wanted to see and do; Polo Park because it was the uber mall in the region; and St Vital Centre because of its proximity to our summer apartment. Most of the other malls I went to only once or twice, but Fort Richmond Plaza (one of those neighborhood-style malls), we hit that one regularly because it was right off Pembina Highway on the way into town and it had a Safeway, Zellers (Kmart-type discount store) and a Shoppers Drug Mart and was handy if we needed any supplies after a two-and-a-half-hour drive. I believe there was also a bank branch in there, so we would exchange our currency for Canadian.

    Portage Place was downtown along three blocks of Portage Avenue. It was connected by skywalk to The Bay on the west end and Eaton’s on the east end. These two anchors were technically across the street on the south side of Portage Avenue. Eaton’s also had a skywalk linking it to Winnipeg’s secondary downtown mall, Eaton Place (now apparently Cityplace) which, unlike shiny ’80s Portage Place, is located in the lower floors of an older turn-of-the-last-century building. It never had a whole lot of stores, but the building was not a standard mall designed for that type of retail. The floor plan was almost certainly reconfigured for the purpose, and I don’t believe it works as a mall. I remember it having a large chess set where you have to carry the pieces.

    Sadly, the old Eaton’s department store not only closed in the late ’90s, but the building itself was demolished to make way for the MTS Centre, which is a hockey arena that also hosts touring concerts. I miss Eaton’s to this day – the fine china was on the third floor, the toy department was on the eighth (top) floor (later moved to the fifth floor when the 6th-8th floors were closed off) and the Oriental rugs were on the 5th floor as well. Gosh, that place had to be haunted. And the restaurant on the 5th floor had the most mind-bending coffered ceiling I could never figure out. I remember they used to serve a kiddie dessert consisting of a scoop of French vanilla ice cream with a cone on top, made to look like a clown wearing a hat. There were white linen tablecloths. It was the kind of place you dressed up to go to.

    The Bay had six floors, with the Paddlewheel Restaurant (cafeteria) on the top floor.

    Portage Place has three levels. Retail is mostly on the main and second levels, with offices on the third. At one end is a fountain that shoots up like a geyser every few minutes. In the center court is a clock tower. The food court is at the other end. I can almost smell the french fries and ketchup….

    Polo Park is the big fancy mall. Apparently the second level was added in the ’80s, but it’s seamless. You can’t tell by looking at it that it wasn’t original to the structure. The one thing I can say that was odd is that while standing on the second floor, especially near balconies, you can feel the floor vibrate or tremor. Hm. One of my favorite Polo Park memories is seeing Red Green doing an appearance there. It was a bit of a surprise, we didn’t know he was going to be there, but when we found out that’s what the long line was for, we got in line and met him and we bought his book that he was promoting and he signed it for us!

    Polo Park had four anchors as I recall, including The Bay, Eaton’s, Zellers and Sears. For traditional enclosed malls, that was the premier destination in Winnipeg.

    The other nice mall was St Vital Centre. It was only a one-level mall, but it was comparable in size to our Columbia Mall in Grand Forks – about 80 stores – but the difference being that St Vital had close to full occupancy. Don’t quote me on this, but I think St Vital had a carousel at one point.

    A couple of malls out on Corydon seemed like dead malls: Charleswood Place and Grant Park Mall. Nothing to see there. Unicity I think I may have been to once: all I can remember is, it was out by the airport somewhere, and instead of benches it had those Reise’s Pieces-colored hard-plastic modular octagonal ’70s-style seats arranged around mall trees, and the floor tiles were shiny glazed and brown, like brown terra cotta. At least, I think that was Unicity.

    Garden City I don’t remember very well, and Kildonan Place I think was similar to St Vital.

    But Winnipeg shopping is more than just its enclosed malls. The really fun places to shop (just ignore the weather if it’s cold) are the Forks Market (converted streetcar stables), the Exchange District (old-school warehouses and Victorian-era office buildings) and Osborne Village (hipster Midtown area). There’s also a network of shops under the Portage & Main intersection, accessible from the underground levels of the office towers on the corners, but I’ve never been down there.

    I would like to make one more observation on Canadian shopping. While I spent a lot of time in Winnipeg, I rarely saw any cars with American license plates other than our own. On the other hand, nearly every weekend in Grand Forks we can see Manitoba plates. For some reason Canadians love to come to Grand Forks to shop! I always thought that was kind of funny, because I personally love the shopping in Winnipeg.

    Of course, Winnipeg probably doesn’t have the Black Friday sales because Canadian Thanksgiving is in October. But in Grand Forks, I bet half the Black Friday sales are a result of Winnipeggers coming to GF. It isn’t just day after Thanksgiving, though. It’s the norm when the weekend rolls around.

    I would be interested to know from the Winnipeg point of view what the big draw is in Grand Forks. Just curious!

  39. The reason why so many Winnipeggers like to go shopping in Grand Forks and not vice versa is because it’s cheaper down there than it is here. Even all the new Targets that have opened here have failed to impress most people because their prices aren’t comparable for the most part. I haven’t been to Grand Forks myself in about 20 years, but you are correct, I rarely see any American license plates around here.

    Speaking of malls I live practically down the street from one, the Northgate Shopping Centre, which happens to be down the street from the Garden City mall in the article above.

    Northgate has undergone many major changes over the years but never seems to get anywhere. It started off with Zellers and Kmart and a strip mall. Then sometime in the 80s I believe it was, they decided to enclose the strip mall and expand the mall directly in front of both Kmart and Zellers. They even had a food court at the south end that was for the most part vacant as long as I can recall, aside from an Asian place and a Dairy Queen, with a Pizza Hut further down the mall. It used to be a good mall back in the day with Zellers and Kmart going head to head and many nice stores. Then Kmart closed, I believe they were forced out by the owners which I believe was HBC, owners of Zellers, and soon after many stores between Zellers and Kmart started to shut down, the whole area pretty much became a ghost town.

    Not long after that they redid the mall, Zellers expanded into part of the old Kmart, the mall that was in front of the Zellers was bulldozed making room for more parking and for a complete exterior makeover of Zellers. Some new shops opened outside the new Zellers mall entrance where Kmart used to be and across from it where the mall once was.

    The south end of the mall was completely redone also. The discount store at the end and the food court were removed and replaced with a new Cinema City movie theater. Shops have come and gone but not much has happened since all of this. And now Zellers is gone as well and it’s been over a year and no new tenant in site. There was rumors of a grocery store going in there but it doesn’t seem to be happening now that they bought out another chain with a store a block away. The latest rumor now is that the Zellers will be bulldozed and will be replaced with a new multistory retail and housing complex which I personally think sucks since we don’t even have a Target in the area and this would be a good place.

    Speaking of Garden City nothing much has happened there in ages from what I can tell. They did get a Dollarama in the old Shoppers Drug Mart location, which moved out of the mall to a bigger location, and the movie theater shut down and has been vacant for years now. Petcetera also went out of business and was more recently replaced with a Goodlife Fitness gym. I think personally they should have just torn down that and the theater next door and expanded the mall or something but I guess that won’t be happening now. Other than that, some old boring mall that needs something to revitalize it imo, as does Northgate.

    Shame that this part of town seems to be neglected by all the major retailers and property owners, they would rather build massive amounts of strip malls and power centers in the city’s south end. There will soon possibly be a vacancy across the street from Garden City if no one takes over the Safeway spot that is being shut down. Not to mention another grocery store being shut down not far from there in the Maples. Anyway i’m getting a bit off track, sorry for ranting.

    On a side note the Polo Park mall is undergoing an expansion as the old Zellers site is being subdivided into at least 21 new stores, I will find out more about that soon as i’m starting a new job working on some of the stores very soon, can’t wait to get into it.

  40. I have lived in Winnipeg all my life and have seen many changes good and bad. Its interesting to see different perspectives from people all over North America..

    I am very familiar with Garden City Mall as my parents grew up in the area and my Baba lived on Royal Avenue across from Edmond Partridge aka the old West Kildonan Collegiate.

    I have many fond memories of the area spending many weekends, days off school and summers at her place..

    I grew up in NK North Kildonan but over the years have lived on Garry Street near the Forks Mall, in Fort Garry just down the road from Fort Richmond Mall and just off Marion in St Boniface.

    I do recommend you visit St Boniface as there is a lot of history there like Fort Gibralter, The St Boniface cathedral and many quaints cafes and museums and the Forks across the river has a lot of unique stores and restaurants along with a nice walking trail and outdoors bars.

    We have a beautiful Human Rights Museum and you can catch a baseball game at Shaw park just across from The Forks with some of the best food going..

    That is all for now

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