Since Vid is slow to this thread, I’ll start the deathlist for Thunder Bay.
First off, the downtown malls. In the mid-70’s the city decided to “revitalize” the cores (remember, T Bay was created thru the amalgamtion of Fort William and Port Arthur) by building downtown malls ala Toronto’s Eaton Centre. In the north was Keskus – a Finnish word that roughly translates in “white elephant mall that will be torn down in 30 years to make way for a Casino”. Either that or “meeting place”.
Couldn’t find any images of it in its prime, but here is how it looked in 1998-9 …
I remember when it first opened and the impact it had. It really was a good mall that did decent business, that is until the Eaton’s closed. After that, the writing was on the wall. Too bad as it offered one of the best views of the Sleeping Giant from a “plus 15” type walkway over Park street.
The plus side is that people can now go to the same physical location and lose all their money in the charity casino!!
The city was less colourful in naming the downtown mall in the south core – Victoriaville. (the main shopping street is Victoria Ave – pretty witty eh!). While Keskus was built without closing off any roads (as mentioned above, it had a skyway to span two city blocks), in Victoriaville the city decided to close off and enclose the most important business intersection in the south in order to make the mall a destination. Makes sense to me since the area would certainly retain it’s vibrancy during the 2 years it would take to construct the damn thing.
I remember when it first opened and how they “dressed” up a diesel bus like an old time trolley car and had it driving around with Victoriaville Mall written in the side and local actors dressed in 1920’s garb. I guess the tie-in was that just like the Depression that followed the 20’s, Victoriaville would soon be entering a time of economic ruin. Funny thing is even when it opened, there were empty storefronts and I don’t remember it ever being full of retail. Over the years nearly anything of shopping value left, hell the city even moved the Library annex out of it since there was so little foot traffic.
One “cool” feature of Victoriaville was how it was integrated into the surrounding streets. Rather than having an abrubt mall entrance, the city built heated awnings running up Victoria ave east for 1 block to help transition people to the mall. I guess back then people in Thunder Bay had a fear of going through doors or something? Anyway, like other cities that tried heated awnings (Ottawa), they soon discovered that the only people who really liked them were the homeless, and there were much better ways to make them happy.
While the awnings were taken down I the early 80’s, the city has recently approved removal of the entire mall and the re-opening of Victoria and Syndicate roads to cars.
In addition to the dead core malls, suburban T Bay is really a hospice of dying malls: Northwood, Thunder Bay Mall and County Fair. Intercity (“where the city meets”) is the only surviving mall in the city and that is being generous. (BTW, Vid, if you do read this I don’t consider Granview a mall).
Sorry for the diatribe, but in my experience, it seems that this may be one area where T Bay leads in the country (dead/dying malls): Out of 6 malls that existed in 1983, only 1 is really alive. But since the whole city is dying a real slow death, this is no surprise.