Eaton Centre

Eaton Centre

Eaton's, which was once Canada's largest department store chain, partnered with development companies throughout the 1970s and 1980s to develop downtown shopping malls in cities across Canada. Each mall contained an Eaton's store, or was in close proximity to an Eaton's store, and typically the mall itself carried the "Eaton Centre" name. These joint-ventures represented a significant retail development trend in Canada during that period. [McQueen, Rod, The Eatons: The Rise and Fall of Canada's Royal Family, Toronto: Stoddart, 1998.]

With the demise of the Eaton's chain in 1999, and the retiring of the Eaton's name as a retail banner in 2002, some of these malls have been renamed, although three of the larger ones continue to carry the Eaton name. Some malls in smaller urban areas, which were typically the least successful of all the Eaton Centre developments, have been demolished or converted to other, non-retail uses.

Current Eaton Centres

*Toronto Eaton Centre, Toronto, Ontario: The largest and most well-known Eaton Centre, this mall is Toronto's most visited tourist attraction and is one of Canada's top shopping destinations. The mall sits on the site of the store operated by Eaton's founder, Timothy Eaton.
*Centre Eaton, Montreal, Quebec: This mall is located on Saint Catherine Street, one of Montreal's primary shopping districts, and is next to Eaton's former flagship Montreal store (which itself has recently been refurbished as a mall known as the Complexe Les Ailes). The mall replaced one named "Les Terrasses", which was demolished after only a few years in operation.
*Calgary Eaton Centre, Calgary, Alberta: This downtown mall was constructed in the late 1980s, and required the demolition of the historic Eaton's store (Eaton's moved into larger premises in the new mall). Two facades of the old Eaton's store were preserved, and incorporated into the new Holt Renfrew store.

Former Eaton Centres

*Edmonton City Centre, Edmonton, Alberta: After the demise of Eaton's, the Edmonton Eaton Centre and Edmonton Centre, two formerly independent malls, were redeveloped into one shopping complex, and The Bay, a former Eaton's competitor, moved into the former Eaton's store.
*The Bay Centre, Victoria, British Columbia: When Eaton's went bankrupt, the former Eaton's store in this mall was occupied for a short time by Sears Canada's "eatons" experiment, and afterwards by a Sears store. When Sears vacated the mall, the "Victoria Eaton Centre" was renamed to reflect the mall's new department store tenant, the Bay.
*Metropolis at Metrotown, Burnaby, British Columbia: The Eaton Centre Metrotown opened in 1989. With the departure of the Eaton's store a decade later, the Eaton Centre and the nearby Metrotown Centre were incorporated into one mall.
*Cityplace, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Formerly "Eaton Place", this shopping and office complex occupies the former Eaton's mail order warehouse, and is located behind the city's new arena, the MTS Centre (the site of the former downtown Eaton's store, now demolished).

Other Centres

Although neither has ever carried the Eaton name (both did, however, contain Eaton's stores), these two malls were developed by the Eaton's chain and its partners, and both are "Eaton Centres" in all but name.
*Pacific Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia: Constructed in phases from 1971 to 1973, this mall contained Eaton's flagship Vancouver store.
*Rideau Centre, Ottawa, Ontario: Prior to its construction in 1981–1982, Ottawa's "Rideau Centre" project had been subject to many years of planning. Prior to the mall's opening, Eaton's attempted to rename the mall the "Rideau Eaton Centre", but the chain was forced to back down due to the local outcry generated by the "eleventh hour" proposed name change. Nonetheless, Eaton's added an "E" to the mall's logo (although the letter has long since been removed).

Ontario Downtown Renewal Programme (ODRP)

Commencing in the early 1970s, Ontario's provincial government poured millions of dollars over the course of a decade into the ODRP program in order to revitalize the downtown retail areas of smaller communities throughout the Province. Typically, this involved the construction of new downtown malls to compete with growing suburban shopping opportunities.

However, there was no business case or market analysis to justify the construction of these downtown malls. Typically, this involved the construction of new downtown malls to compete with growing suburban shopping opportunities. Many residents noted that the enclosed facilities represented the antithesis to the one unique aspect of downtown shopping: street-related stores. [Memorable Moments in Ontario Retailing: 1976 , John Winter and Associates, [] (last accessed November 7, 2006),]

Nonetheless, in a highly criticized business decision, Eaton's became a partner in the program, and its stores served as the anchor tenant in many of these malls. As stated in The Globe and Mail newspaper, "The history of retailing is filled with tales of merchants who were brilliantly prescient in their location choices, and others who totally misread their markets and fell flat. In the 1970s, the T. Eaton Co. became a textbook example of the latter when it built huge department stores in the increasingly empty downtowns of small Canadian cities; far from reviving the cores, the stores failed as consumers kept taking their business to suburban malls." [Lorinc, John. [ The Location Equation] . The Globe and Mail. March 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-18.]

None of these malls ever enjoyed the success of some of the Eaton Centres in larger cities, and their failure contributed to the demise of the entire Eaton's chain.

*Hamilton Eaton Centre, Hamilton: Unlike most communities subjected to ODRP projects, Eaton's had been present in Hamilton's downtown for many decades. Despite Eaton's years of business in downtown Hamilton, this mall was never successful. Now renamed "Hamilton City Centre", the majority of the mall houses the temporary city hall.
*Guelph Eaton Centre, Guelph: With the departure of Eaton's, this mall was redeveloped as the Guelph Centre. The site of the Eaton's store now houses the Sleeman Centre, which is a large ice rink. The rest of the mall was converted to a galleria style pedestrian street called 'Old Quebec Street', with offices above the shops.
*Eaton Market Square, Brantford: Eventually renamed simply "Market Square", much of this mall has been converted to non-retail uses.
*Peterborough Square, Peterborough: The former Eaton's store now contains movie theatres.
*Sarnia Eaton Centre, Sarnia: This mall opened in 1982 but suffered from stiff competition from the existing suburban Lambton Mall. Eaton's departed in 1997, 5 years short of its intended 20 year lease, followed by the closing of the A&P supermarket in 2000. Renamed the Bayside Mall after the departure of Eaton's, much of this mall has been converted to office space.
*Kitchener Market Square, Kitchener: The former Eaton's store has been converted to offices.


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