Saturday, October 22, 2022

35 Lakewood Boulevard - Southdale Shopping Centre

© 2022, Christian Cassidy

Name: Southdale Mall / Southdale Shopping Centre
Address: 35 Lakewood Boulevard
Opened: September 1, 1966
Developer: Ladco Canada Ltd.

August 31, 1966, Winnipeg Tribune

The Southdale Mall was built to serve the new suburban development of Southdale that was being developed by Ladco Company Ltd. of Winnipeg in the early 1960s. To be developed over a period of years or decades, it comprised of 800-acres of residential and commercial space bounded by the Seine River, Fermor Avenue, Lagimodiere Boulevard and Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

The annual Parade of Homes was held in the neighbourhood in the summer of 1966 and featured sixteen show homes on Clearwater Road that ranged in price from $20,000 to $50,000. Just one of the community's three artificial lakes had been installed at the time. This feature, new to Winnipeg housing developments, attracted a lot of interest.

There were 47 acres of land set aside for commercial development along Fermor Avenue between Lakewood and Beaverhill boulevards and construction of the first phase, billed as "Metro Winnipeg's first air-conditioned enclosed shopping centre", began in late August 1965.

Ladco brought in J. A. "Sandy" Reid, a mall developer from British Columbia, to build the project. It was expected to include a cinema and an "open air type sidewalk restaurant" that never materialized.

Source: City of Winnipeg Archives

The Southdale Mall opened on September 1, 1966, and featured two anchor tenants.

One was the city's first K-Mart department store. (Another K-Mart opened on the same day at 3395 Portage at Cavalier Road.) They were the 16th and 17th Canadian stores owned by the S. S. Kreske Company.

The Southdale store was managed by George Collins who had been in charge of the Portage Avenue Kresge's for 17 years.

The other anchor was that of Ontario-based grocery chain Dominion Stores. This was their seventh Winnipeg location.

Between the two anchors was a covered walkway with three retail units facing the parking lot: a Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, Quinton's Cleaners, and a second Ebbeling Pharmacy, (the original was located at 722 Watt Street).

There was also a mall entrance through which three more retail spaces - Joy's Ladies' Wear, a barber shop/hair salon, and a shoe repair shop - could be accessed.

Surrounding the mall was parking for 1,000 vehicles.

The two anchors fell by the wayside by the end of the century.

Dominion, the largest grocery chain in Canada through the 1970s, began to falter in the early 1980s as competitors drew its customers away. One retail analyst told the Canadian Press at the time that "Dominion has been struggling basically becasue they haven't been putting money back into the business like the other (grocery) companies have."

The chain began pulling out of Quebec and Western Canada in 1982 to concentrate on the Ontario market. Of its twelve Winnipeg stores, two were sold to Safeway in March 1983 and it was announced in July that four more, including Southdale Mall, would close.

By February 1985, only two Winnipeg Dominions remained at Forest Park Mall on Grant Avenue and Kildonan Place. By April 1986, there was only Kildonan Place left. All remaining Dominion stores in the country closed by the end of 1988.

Southdale Mall's Dominion space was subdivided for a number of retail tenants. The largest tenant through the 1990s appears to have been SAAN. In the 2000s it has been Dollarama.

Kmart also fell by the wayside.

It first got into financial trouble in the U.S. in the 1980s with the growth of Walmart and other discount chains. The Canadian division started losing money in the early 1990s and when Walmart purchased Woolco in 1994, things went downhill quickly.

Kmart responded by closing stores across the country including about half of its Winnipeg locations: Southwood Mall in 1994, and Crestview and Northgate malls in 1996.

It was announced in February 1997 that HBC would take over Kmart's Canadian assets and merge them with Zellers, though it would have to close around 40 of the 112 stores. In Winnipeg, this meant that the River East Plaza and Southdale Mall outlets became Zellers stores but the one at Northdale Shopping Centre was shuttered.

HBC announced that it sold its Zellers division to Target Canada in January 2011 and the Southdale store was revamped and reopened under the new banner in spring 2013.

Target soon retreated from the Canadian market and Walmart Canada announced in May 2015 that it had acquired the Southdale store. The building was again revamped and reopened under the Walmart name in spring 2016.

As for the space between the anchors, numerous owners came and went in the smaller spaces. CIBC is the only original tenant left. Ebberling sold his Southdale location in the 1970s but the space remained a pharmacy and is now a Rexall Drugs.

The property was purchased in 1989 by Devan Properties which did extensive renovations to the mall. It is unclear if this was when the mall entrance and hall were made into an additional retail space. (This was certainly done before the advent of Google Street View in 2007).

February 24, 199, Winnipeg Free Press Weekly

Around the same time, Ladco developed Southdale Square, a shopping area that sprawled for a block east of the mall. It included anchors Safeway and Canadian Tire and a couple of strip malls.

The whole district began marketing itself as Southdale Mall in the early 1990s. Group ads appeared under the name that included stores from each development, such as Canadian Tire, CIBC, Goodyear Auto Service, SAAN and Lyluk Insurance, as if they were all under one roof.

The retail district was more commonly referred to as Southdale Shopping Centre by the late 1990s and today the sign for the retail zone reads Southdale Centre.

It took until the summer of 2008 for the Southdale subdivision and the Southdale Shopping Centre to be declared completed by Alan Borger, whose family owns Ladco. This was due to the final lots of commercial land being developed under the banner "Southdale Market" on Fermor Avenue at Beaverhill Boulevard. The largest lot became a Giant Tiger.

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