Hamilton City Centre/Lloyd Jackson Square; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Hamilton City Centre former Eaton Centre Hart Department Store in Hamilton, Ontario

Located on the west shore of Lake Ontario, Hamilton is an anchor city for the Golden Horseshoe, one of North America’s largest urban agglomerations extending from Toronto and its suburbs all the way around to the Niagara Region of St. Catharines and Niagara Falls, including Hamilton, Barrie, Mississauga, and more. According to the 2006 Canadian census, Hamilton has a population of just over 500,000 residents. The city is the third largest in Ontario and the ninth largest in all of Canada. Historically, Hamilton grew from manufacturing roots, and the city is known from many who pass by it on the QEW Expressway for its prominent steel mills.

But Hamilton is more than heavy industry; it is, instead, a multicultural melting pot with a growing economy and a thriving culture of museums, castles, gardens, and much more. Also of note is the fact that the city is bisected by a “mountain” – really a large and very steep hill called the Niagara Escarpment, but it separates Hamilton into “upper” and “lower” areas. Upper Hamilton includes the mostly suburban and residential areas west of the downtown core and away from the lake, and lower Hamilton is comprised of mostly the urban core of downtown and the low-lying areas to the east along Lake Ontario’s shore, including the heavy manufacturing areas.

Downtown Hamilton across from the mallIn the middle of lower Hamilton’s downtown are many skyscrapers which make Hamilton’s skyline impressive, and two large urban enclosed malls which are connected and functionally operate as one, and will be referred to for practical purposes in this article as one mall: Hamilton City Centre and Lloyd Jackson Square. Located right in the center of the city, the malls share several city blocks and are bounded by King Street, Bay Street, York Boulevard and James Street. Named after former Hamilton mayor Lloyd Jackson, his namesake mall opened in 1970. The 1970s were a booming period of construction around the mall which also put up several tall skyscrapers which attach to the mall’s interior walkways, including Stelco (steel) Tower, Landmark Place and the Bank of Montreal pavilion. The main anchor to the malls was Eaton’s department store, which had been present in downtown Hamilton for decades prior. In 1977, the second phase of the mall opened including a six story office tower and in the 1980s a Sheraton and 19,000-seat coliseum opened, all attached to the mall.

However, harder times came to Hamilton in the 1990s, affecting its economy as the manufacturing jobs dwindled in the area. In 1999, a hard blow came to the Hamilton City Centre (then Eaton Centre) portion of the mall block when Eaton’s went out of business nationwide. Sears, who bought Eatons, declined to reinvest in the troubled mall and instead sold its interest and today a portion of the space is Quebec-based Hart discount department store. At that point, that portion of the mall was officially renamed Hamilton City Centre from Eaton Centre.

Jackson Square directory in Hamilton, OntarioToday, the malls exist mainly as a support structure for people working and staying downtown. Much of the designated retail space in both the Lloyd Jackson and especially the Hamilton City Centre portions of the mall have been converted to office or other uses, or simply remain vacant. However, there is still a significant retail portion in the cavernous, winding mall, mostly centered around the large food court and adjacent to the very popular indoor farmer’s market attached to the mall.

The design and decor of the malls is also remarkable. The Lloyd Jackson and Hamilton City Centre portions of the mall, while connected and functionally one mall, are styled differently. In terms of design, the City Centre portion can effectively be considered one dead-end leg of the Lloyd Jackson center, which is larger. However, the City Centre portion is three stories whereas the Lloyd Jackson portion is mostly one story and windy. See the pictures for a better explanation of the confusing layout; we got lost at least once in the mall, which we were kind of amused by. In terms of decor, the Hamilton City Centre portion is largely a more modern, 1990s design, whereas much of the Lloyd Jackson portion is dated to the 1980s or 1970s.

Take a look at the photos we captured of the mall and downtown Hamilton from 2006, and feel free to leave your comments and stories as usual.

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Square One Shopping Centre; Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Square One Shopping Center in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Located in the sprawling megasuburb of Mississauga, Ontario, Square One Shopping Centre is one of the largest malls in Canada and the second largest in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), behind Eaton Centre downtown.  As a mega-regional mall, Square One draws from an impressive trade area encompassing the entire Golden Horseshoe, a term for the highly populated arc of provincial Ontario surrounding the shores of Lake Ontario from Greater Toronto to Fort Erie, also including Hamilton, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines.  With over 8 million people, one out of four Canadians lives within the Golden Horseshoe and thus Square One’s trade area, making it a very important mall.  The mall itself is a monster melange of stores and services in a very unique floorplan, as a result of many different updates and expansions throughout the years, but we’re also interested in how the mall has functioned as the centerpiece for the City of Mississauga since its inception in 1974.

Indeed, the City of Mississauga’s existance is relatively recent, and moreso amazing is the fact that it has grown to a population of over 700,000 residents and has more than doubled in the past 20 years.  Mississauga emerged from the amalgamation of several existing communities, some of them over a century old themselves, such as Port Credit, Streetsville, Malton, Cooksville and Clarkson.  However, most of present-day Mississauga was agricultural until even the first half of the 20th century.  

Square One Shopping Center Hudson's Bay Company in Mississauga, Ontario, CanadaBy the 1960s, however, a lot of post-WWII suburban-growth had spilled over from Toronto and many settlements had sprung up such as Meadowvale and Erin Mills, so a provincial decree set up the Town of Mississauga in 1968, which amalgamated many of these towns into one geographic giant.  Then, in 1974, Mississauga incorporated as a city, and with it came the plans for the new city center which was to feature government offices, as well as a gigantic mall.  Are we loving this already?

Square One Shopping Centre opened in late 1973, just a few months prior to Mississauga being officially incorporated, in order to provide a centerpiece for the newly formed city.  It is located at Highway 403 and Hurontario Street.  Square One opened anchored by Dominion, Woolco, The Bay, and Sears.  Today, however, only a shadow of the original mall exists as it has expanded many times into the piecemeal success story it is today.

As mentioned, Mississauga grew rapidly as a bedroom suburb for Toronto during the 1980s and 1990s, and is still growing rapidly even today.  To accomodate this sprawl, Square One was expanded several times during the 1980s, adding over 80 stores and a million more square feet in selling space.  Woolco closed in the 1990s as that chain went out of business, and it was replaced by a 220,000 square-foot Wal-Mart store.  When Eatons closed in 1999, it was replaced with Canada’s largest Zellers.  In 2000, the most recent expansion occurred.  Called Cityside, it added a Cineplex Odeon theatre as well as a more upscale, modern wing featuring many fashion designer boutiques as well as stores from the ‘States.  Then, most recently, the entire center was given the once-over and remodeled, culminating in late 2006.  Three distinct neighborhoods exist within the mall with carpeted transitional areas. 

Square One Shopping Center in Mississauga, Ontario, CanadaThe overall design and decor of Square One definitely reflect how the mall has changed in pieces over the years.  The modern, most recent addition features marbled floors and an overall whitewashed look which has been popular in malls as of recent.  The older wings vary, from the Milanese Galleria-style glass enclosure popular in the 1980s to darker 1970s tones with dark tiled flooring.  Really, the mall is amazing because it has nearly every period of decor imaginable.  In addition, the way the mall is set up is similar to that of the Mall of America, only modified and not as tall.  A square perimeter of enclosed space connects all four anchors on the upper level, with a triangular series of hallways appended onto one end.  The lower level is more curiously set up, with hallways zig-zagging off a main corridor connecting Zellers to the food court area.

So what’s next for the future of Square One?  Today, Mississauga has over 700,000 residents and is Canada’s sixth largest city.  Yet Toronto, the country’s largest city, is only 20 minutes away.  So albeit a giant, Mississauga lives in the shadows of its older big brother next door.  However, Mississauga is currently in the process of repositioning its image from suburban bedroom community to a city with its own legs, and its own real urban downtown.  As such, the city has forged a relatively new downtown skyline centered near the mall featuring skyscrapers of 30 to 50 stories.  In 2006, a design competition was held to build another 50-story condominum tower, which will be visually shocking and called Absolute World.  In addition, numerous community festivals are centered around this new urban core of Mississauga, which once again was originally predicated on a mall which still thrives. 

There are other large malls in the GTA, but only Square One has become the realized centerpiece for an entire community.  With a great central location between the City of Toronto and the rest of the Golden Horseshoe, Square One will continue to dominate well into the future.  I took the pictures featured with this post in January 2006.  As always, comments and more information is always appreciated.      

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Cloverdale Mall; Toronto, Ontario


It’s been a while since we posted anything from Canada, and we don’t want them to feel left out.  Cloverdale Mall is a 460,000 square foot enclosed mall anchored by Winners, Zellers, and Dominion, a grocery store.  It’s located near the intersection of Dundas St and Highway 427 in the Etobicoke area of west Toronto.  There are 105 stores and services in this community-oriented centre, which trends toward service neighborhood-oriented convenience.  

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Cloverdale Mall is how it exists successfully in the shadow of other malls.  Square One Mall in Mississauga, one of the largest malls in North America, is only a few miles away to the west.  Sherway Gardens, one of the Toronto area’s largest and most upscale malls, is less than a mile south of Cloverdale.  Also, Dixie Outlet Mall, one of Canada’s largest value-oriented malls, is located just two miles away.  While Square One, Sherway Gardens, and Dixie Outlet Mall draw from a larger area, Cloverdale Mall’s offerings mainly serve the local convenience of those in west Toronto and eastern Mississauga.  Cloverdale focuses on service and convenience, whereas the other malls have their niches as well.  However, across Dundas from Cloverdale sits a mostly empty, much smaller, and older enclosed center called Honeydale Mall which has suffered greatly in recent years. 

The decor of Cloverdale Mall is decidedly dated yet well kept, which is also alarming considering the competition immediately surrounding the mall.  There are few vacancies, attesting to the fact that the locals use this mall frequently.  This represents the main difference between how malls in the U.S. function versus those in Canada.  Many neighborhood centers such as this one are not only enclosed but relatively large, and often exist in the shadow of other, larger malls more similar to those in the U.S.

I visited Cloverdale Mall in January 2006 and took the pictures featured below.  If you have more information, especially about Cloverdale’s history, feel free to leave some comments. 

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Eaton Centre; Toronto, Ontario

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.


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.

eaton-centre-2001-03.jpgDowntown 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!

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White Woods Mall; Amherstburg, Ontario

Bridge to Canada

It’s no secret that things are a little different in Canada. Not surprisingly, so is their retail scene. There are no JCPenneys, Targets, or Kohls; however, they hold their own with chains like Zellers, Hudson’s Bay Company, and Winners. Also, there seem to be a lot more enclosed malls in Canada. What would, in the United States, be a strip mall with outside entrances manifests itself in Canada as an enclosed mall anchored by a discount retailer such as Zellers or Winners, and a grocery store like A&P. These little Canadian malls have always intrigued me because they thrive, whereas the trend for smaller enclosed shopping centers in the United States is bleak. We in the U.S. have been shuttering our enclosed neighborhood centers in favor of open-air strip malls for well over a decade now. Why is this happening? Do people want immediate access to their favorite store without having to walk through a mall? Regardless, it may just be a bit too cold in Canada for them to give up their traditions and open up the mall.Ontario Welcome Center, Windsor
One of these small Canadian malls is the White Woods Mall in Amherstburg, Ontario. Located just a few miles south of Windsor, Amherstburg has a population of 20,000. Windsor, with a metropolitan population of 300,000, is an important border crossing with Detroit, Michigan. Interestingly enough, it is the only place where people go north to cross from Canada into the U.S. Also, Windsor and its environs are closer to downtown Detroit than most of Detroit’s own suburbs. So Although the Windsor area is not officially enumerated as part of Metro Detroit by either the Canadian or American governments, for practical purposes it is. All of these considerations are important when determining where people shop. Clearly many Canadians cross into the Detroit area to take advantage of the dozens of malls and chain stores there and while they have to pay the bridge and tunnel toll, they are exempt from tax in doing so. Nevertheless, there are four enclosed shopping malls on the Canadian side and White Woods Mall is one of them.

Built as the Fort Malden Mall, they changed the name within recent years to White Woods Mall. We mall connoisseurs know that when a mall’s name changes, it often gets renovated. In this case, that did not happen. I visited the small White Woods Mall (aka sMall) in January, 2004, and it had many dated and closed storefronts. It was anchored by A&P Supermarket on the north end and Saan, a Canadian discount chain, on the south end. In the mall, which had a square racetrack layout, were as of 1/04: Royal Bank, PharmaPlus Drug Mart, Bank of Montreal, the Amherstburg Walk-In Clinic, Reitmans, Lee J Nails, Pet Valu, Radio Shack, H&R Block, A Buck Or Two!, For 1 Optical, and the Tender Tootsies Shoe Warehouse. Since I visited this struggling mall in 2004, changes have been afoot. It is rumored that Wal-Mart is looking to make an entrance into Amherstburg, and would like to tear down at least half the mall to build a store. A story published in the Amherstburg Echo in February, 2006 indicates redevelopment of the site is imminent.

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