A Hudson’s Bay Retrospective
We’re celebrating Department Store Day with a look back at some amazing photos and facts.
With the industrial age came many changes to 18th century society, including changes to the way we shop — think the birth of advertising, sales techniques and population explosions in major city centres. The department store, a 19th century innovation, is one such achievement that has evolved over time. Early on, the department store became a haven for women and their families to meet and mingle, as well as work, which helped to change women’s careers forever.
As we celebrate Department Store Day, we take a look back through the years at some of the iconic Hudson’s Bay locations throughout Canada. Browse the gallery above for these archival images and see below for some fun facts about Hudson’s Bay’s heritage.
And Happy Department Store Day!
Hudson’s Bay Facts:
Hudson’s Bay Company, North America’s oldest company, was founded on May 2, 1670.
By the end of the 19th century the retail era had officially begun and the Company’s focus shifted from the fur trade to transforming its trading posts into saleshops.
In 1912, HBC began an aggressive modernization program, resulting in the “original six” Hudson’s Bay Company department stores: Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg.
The downtown HBC Calgary store was opened on Monday, August 18, 1913, officially becoming the first of HBC’s original six modern flagship department stores.
HBC’s original flagships in Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria were intentionally designed to resemble Harrods in London, one of the most famous department stores in the world at the beginning of the 20th century.
In 1895, the first Drug Department in a department store was established by Woodwards (which was later to be bought by HBC, in 1993)
At opening the Hudson’s Bay Queen Street store in Toronto, at that time owned and operated by the Robert Simpson Company, boasted the longest uninterrupted main aisle of any department store in the world.
HBC acquired Morgan’s of Montreal, which was Canada’s first department store, in 1960.
When it opened in 1949, the Arcadian Court in the Simpsons department store (Now Hudson’s Bay and Saks Fifth Avenue) was the “world’s largest restaurant to be found in a department store […] With a seating capacity for more than 1,300 persons, it has become one of Toronto’s most popular dining places.”
Photography credits: Toronto’s Queen Street location, circa 1912 (HBC Corporate Collection); Victoria, British Columbia’s flagship location in 1935 (Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba); the Winnipeg flagship in 1939 (Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba); Morgan’s department store, in 1950, which would later become the Montreal Hudson’s Bay flagship (HBC Corporate Collection); the Winnipeg location and parkade, in 1955 (HBC Corporate Collection); the Edmonton location after an addition, in 1956 (HBC Corporate Collection); the Vancouver store in 1960 (Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba); the Edmonton store, circa 1965 (HBC Corporate Collection); the Saskatoon location, in 1968 (Hudson’s Bay Company Archives, Archives of Manitoba); the Mississauga location at Square One Shopping Centre, in 1973 (HBC Corporate Collection); the Winnipeg location, circa 1980 (HBC Corporate Collection); the Montreal location in the early 1990s (HBC Corporate Collection).
*Special thanks to HBC Heritage Services.