Thursday, August 20, 2009

Polo Park Part 6 Fifty Years Old

The old Eaton's building (now The Bay) on the north end of Polo Park in the 1970s

Exhibit area of Polo Park in the 1970s

Fountain at Polo Park 1970s

Exhibit area of Polo Park in the 1970s

Interior shot of Polo Park in the 1970s

Interior shot of Polo Parl in the 1970s

Interior of Polo Park in the 1970s

Another angle of the sculpture looking out on to Portage Avenue

Sculpture at the east entrance

The Polo Park Cinema

Sculpture outside the north entrance.

The old yellow and black Polo Park sign. Photo and all others from the U of M archives.

Polo Park celebrates its 50th birthday this year. I have written extensively on the mall as it is the oldest and largest shopping centre in the city. In 1963, it became the first covered mall in Manitoba and possibly the second in Canada since the first was in B.C. in 1962.

The former racetrack was converted to its present retail format in 1959. At that time Simpsons Sears department store began construction and was completed in May. The rest of the open air mall was completed in August of the same year.

The design of the mall was Simpsons Sears at the south end and two retail strip malls facing one another running north from the department store. There were 40 stores in the first incarnation of the mall, only seven of which remain with the mall in 2009.

Those stores are:

Simpsons Sears
Broadway Florists
Fashionette Hair Stylists
Mario's Beauty Salon
Tip Top Tailors

The Polo Park Bowling Centre was also an original tenant.

The present owner of the mall Cadillac Fairview is celebrating the anniversary of the mall's opening on August 20 by honouring longtime employees and the original stores.

Today the mall, after five renovations and three expansions, is home to over 200 stores, a 500 seat food court and 6000 parking spaces. The last major expansion in 2008 saw Sport Chek move from its basement location to a large store fronting the south entrance. This made way for McNally Robinson to take over the location. The old food court on the second floor was expanded atop Sport Chek below.

As I have detailed here before, the mall still lacks a theme and is poorly organized. The food court is off to one side of the mall and lacks the great hall feeling that St. Vital Centre has. Women's fashion has no discernible groupings.

Still, after 50 years, Polo Park has survived and prospered. It will be interesting to see if it will be here 50 years from now.

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Anonymous said...

great blog

do you remember the grocery store in polo park? It's a german name, I think. Krueller? It's driving me nuts.

John Dobbin said...

I only remember Dominion and Loblaw's across the aisle from one another in the 1970s.

I will look into the other grocery store though. Do you have an approximate date?

Toadie Moontoadie said...

The one picture of the cinema shows the movie Children of a Lesser God playing. That movie came out in 1986.

Toadie Moontoadie said...

There was a Kretsky's, not sure if I spelled that right, and I think they sold some groceries. I remember it had a lunch counter. Also there was a malt shop. Yum!

Anonymous said...

Kresge's,a company that would later become K-Mart.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember the restaurants in the mall back in the late 70's?!?!

Phil said...

I believe in the mall near Eatons was a restaurant called Sir Johns. They were the first to serve buffalo burgers. I worked at Sears fron 1973 to 2008. A great place to work and shop.

Unknown said...

The polonly rider sculpture at Polo park where was it before it came to Polo park? Does anyone know?

Winnipeg Citizen said...

The Polo rider and horse where was it before it came to Polo park? Or was it always there? Does anyone know? Thx