Sunday, November 15, 2009

450 Memorial Boulevard: The Bay Parkade

© 2009, Christian Cassidy
The Bay Parkade

Place: The Bay Parkade
Address: 301 Memorial Boulevard Map
Opened: October 29, 1954
Smith Hynchman Grillis (Detroit), Moody Moore Architects (Winnipeg)

Contractor: Bird Construction
Cost: $750,000


June 25, 1967, Winnipeg Tribune

After World War II, cities across North America underwent huge changes. People began turning their backs on city cores, opting instead for suburban living. 

New regional roads and bridges, such as the Disraeli Freeway, had to be built to handle the increase in vehicle traffic in and out of the downtown. 

The streetcar era ended in favour of diesel buses as they were considered more flexible to handle the demands of a spread-out population.

For downtown office buildings and stores, the demand for additional parking also rose as their employees and customers alike became more car dependent.

The Hudson's Bay Company department store on Portage Avenue was the first in Winnipeg to construct a parkade, using its existing store parking lot to the south of the building as the base. At the time, it was said to be the only multi-level parking structure between Thunder Bay and Vancouver. 

The parkade was part of a multi-million dollar refurbishment and renovation of the flagship store that took place between 1954 and 1956. Other changes included a new loading bay / warehouse area, installation of escalators to the top floor and the opening of the sixth floor, formerly warehouse space, as a furniture department and the Paddle Wheel Buffet.

May 12, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

The HBC hired George Devlin of National Garages Inc. of Detroit, Michigan, a firm that specialized in the engineering and operation of parkades, to oversee the project. They turned to Smith Hynchman Grillis of Detroit for the design.

In May 1954, National Garages awarded the tenders for the local architect to Moody Moore and for construction to Bird Construction Company.

The parkade consisted of a ground level and upper deck held up by steel pillars that go 45 feet below the surface. The original capacity was 450 cars, but it was built so that additional storeys could be added at a later date.

Below the parkade is a 25,000 square foot extension to the store's basement to create additional warehouse and service space.
Top: October 28, 1964, Winnipeg Free Press
Bottom: Ca. November 1954. (Source: U of M, Tribune Photo Collection)

The Bay Parkade opened at 9:00 am on Friday, October 29th, 1954.

The first car to enter was a convertible carrying the five longest-serving employees of the store. Users were greeting by the sights and sounds of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery Band who performed in the structure from 9:10 to 9:40.

October 28, 1954, Winnipeg Free Press

The parkade was billed as "something Winnipeg has never seen before", so the day before the opening illustrated instructions on how to properly use it appeared in the local papers.

When a driver entered, an attendant came to the window to present them with a ticket and escort them to an open spot. While shopping, customers could choose to have their parcels delivered to the parkade warehouse. When it was time to leave, the driver headed for the exit. The warehouse attendant would load any waiting parcels in the car, then onto the cashier to pay.
Top: Ca. August, 1955. (Source: U of M, Tribune Photo Collection)
Bottom: ca. unknown (Source: U of M, Winnipeg Building Index)
(Note: loading dock not yet covered)

The parkade was an immediate success and an additional deck was added the following year. (Also in 1955, Eaton's hired Moody Moore to design a multi-level parkade adjacent to their Portage Avenue store.)

In 1964, a third deck was added. The project included the covering of the loading dock and the addition of an auto service centre on the top floor.

In 1987, the Bay sold the parkade to the Toronto-based Citipark as part of a cross-country sell-off of their parkades to allow them to concentrate on their core retail business. The new owner made major renovations to the structure over the next five years.

Today, the 750 lot parkade is owned and operated by Impark.


  1. Architects were Moody Moore and Associates. Engineering firms were Smith,, Hinchman and Gryllis and National Garages Inc., Which were both from Detroit.

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