Stores in London, Ontario

All things Canadian.

Moderator: Groceteria

User avatar
Groceteria
Great Pumpkin
Posts: 1563
Joined: 04 Nov 2005 12:13
Location: NC Triad
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 14 Sep 2018 19:26

Andrew T. wrote:
14 Sep 2018 18:29
It's a shame that there couldn't have been a Carroll's-to-Grand Union-to-Steinberg's-to-Miracle Food Mart-to-A&P-to-Metro conversion in London. But who knows; maybe there's one somewhere else in southern Ontario.
FWIW, there is at least one Grand Union-to-Steinberg's-to-Miracle Food Mart-to-Dominion-to-Metro conversion (minus Carroll's), but you may already know about that one. It's even been nominated for heritage status.

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 20 Sep 2018 16:15

London's history continues to surprise me. How so?
Groceteria wrote:
14 Sep 2018 18:00
It's interesting to see that the Carroll's stores in London (they were based in Hamilton IIRC) didn't survive long enough to be bought out by Grand Union.
I browsed through a microfilm roll of the London Free Press from 1955 this afternoon, and what did I see? A Carroll's-Grand Union ad. It turns out that they re-entered the market a decade after Carroll's initial departure, and had a solitary store open at "Huron & Adelaide." Unfortunately no precise address number was given, but this is bound to be the same location as 1080 Adelaide St...which is a store that spent the 1960s doing business as Steinberg and the 1970s and 1980s as Miracle Food Mart.

And that's not all! Grand Union also had stores (however briefly) in Ingersoll, Strathroy, Aylmer, and Delhi. This means that both of the mystery stores I posted last month have a chance of being Grand Unions...and possibly even Steinbergs.

Another realization: A bunch of independent stores in the 1950s banded together into a IGA- or Clover Farm-type cooperative or distribution arrangement called "Superior Markets." I didn't realize this at first, and I'll have to hit the books again if I want to round all these stores up...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

Balalaika762
Novice Member
Posts: 4
Joined: 23 Sep 2018 13:02

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Balalaika762 » 24 Sep 2018 12:11

When you're talking about Delhi, is it Delhi in India or a city called like that in Canada? Sorry if the question sounds dumb, but if someone was talking to me about stores in London, my first thought wouldn't have been about Ontario ; hell, if I remember, there are even cities called Rome, Paris, St Petersburg and so on in the USA and Canada, so why not Delhi?

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 24 Sep 2018 12:32

Delhi, Ontario. It's a speck on the map that's currently home to one supermarket, and a "Tobacco Museum & Heritage Centre."
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Mar 2019 21:54

Through some mixture of effort and accident, I've been able to unearth some historical photographs of London, Ontario grocery locations.

Most of what I've found ultimately derives from the collection of London Free Press negatives at Western University's archives; though how I found them is all over the place: Some pictures surfaced in local history books, and I actually found one photograph of a store printed on a physical historical marker on Richmond Street! A few images are also available through Western's Archives Holdings Database; though only a small proportion of indexed images have been digitized for viewing online.

Image

This is (er...was) a Loblaws store that opened at 1920 Dundas Street in October 1953. The building itself appears to have been representative of Loblaws designs of the period, with a porcelain-enamel facade and covered walkway. It barely lasted more than two months in operation: A fire broke out on 3 January 1954, completely consuming and destroying the structure.

Image

Loblaws pulled out the stops to rebuild on the site (likely on the same foundation, and quite possibly using the same blueprints), and a replacement store opened for business in July 1954. Here is that store on opening day, Union Jacks and red ensigns waving in the wind.

This particular store managed to survive longer than two months without burning down...but it didn't survive the 1970s push for larger and more modern stores. A replacement Loblaws (still in operation as No Frills) opened across the street by 1975, and the 1954-vintage building appears to have ultimately been demolished for a small shopping centre that now stands on the site.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Mar 2019 22:13

dominion-hamilton.jpg
Here is a vintage photo of 577 Hamilton Road, the same Dominion location pictured upthread. The image quality isn't too good, but judging by the modern BMO logo in the background and the car silhouettes, this had to have been taken in the 1970s.

According to a book I found called A Collection from the Hamilton Road Area, this store opened "about 1952" and closed on 6 December 1975 in spite of fervent protests from senior citizens in the neighbourhood. The building reopened shortly afterwards as the independent Forest City Market, and went on to house an Asian market in the 1990s.

I recently had the chance to step inside the building, and it's a true time capsule with original wooden floors and original doors. Unfortunately, the building did appear to have a porcelain enamel facade in its Dominion days that is now gone.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Mar 2019 22:26

loblaws-oxford.jpg
Here is the Loblaws store at 234 Oxford Street East as it appeared in September 1965. This store was listed in the 1955 London directory, and it had been open for a little over a decade by this point.

Image
And scavenging a photo from upthread, here's the same store today, still doing business in the Loblaws fold after more than 60 years! The Supertest gas station is long-gone, and an Urban Outfitters store now stands on that site.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Groceteria
Great Pumpkin
Posts: 1563
Joined: 04 Nov 2005 12:13
Location: NC Triad
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Groceteria » 05 Mar 2019 23:04

Nice finds!

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 05 Mar 2019 23:05

dominion-776hamilton.jpg
One last historical photograph to round things out: 780 Hamilton Road, one of the very first stores that Dominion opened in the city. This store had its start in 1923, and lasted until 1946. This picture was taken on 2 March 1941, and it clearly shows how multiple storefronts were subsumed during the store's operational history: The address was listed as 780 in 1925, 778 in 1930-35, and 776-780 in 1940-45.

The building still stands today, but some things mighty strange have happened to the brickwork. The front wall now has a stair-step motif at the top that wasn't there in 1941, and the corner door has been bricked over as though it never was...and with no obvious seams visible. Was the entire front brick facade replaced at some point in the last 78 years? Your guess is as good as mine. It's very odd.

I'm also a little unclear about the provenance of this photo. It appears in A Collection from the Hamilton Road Area, a local history scrapbook I found invaluable for research. That book, in turn, credits the image cryptically to "200 Canada," which may be another history book or something else entirely.
Groceteria wrote:
05 Mar 2019 23:04
Nice finds!
Thanks!
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 02 May 2019 18:27

When researching historical retail locations, I find shopping centres to be a common source of frustration. Individual tenants at a centre may not have individual addresses; the configuration of a centre sometimes changes dramatically over time, and there's never any guarantee that any tenant in a centre will stay in the same place over an extended period of years. What's a good case in point? Quoting upthread...
Andrew T. wrote:
09 May 2018 21:16
Either 215 or 269 Oxford W at Westown Shopping Plaza, aka Cherryhill Mall: Clearly, there's not a lot of directory-to-directory consistency here. The mall still exists, and features a Metro supermarket as the west anchor...but its address number is 301, and I don't know if it's in the same position as the Steinberg of yore.
Historical aerial photography of London is available through Western University (where, coincidentally, I got my Master's degree.) Comparing Westown's/Cherryhill's 1967 footprint with its present-day configuration, it's apparent that quite a bit of it has changed:
westown_london.jpg
The portion of the structure that Metro is housed in today didn't exist in 1967...indicating that it never housed a Steinberg per se, and was instead constructed in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s for Miracle Food Mart or A&P. The mall was originally an open-air shopping centre; however, it was later converted to an enclosed mall with a massive frontal annex. The original structure is still there, but walled in by expansions on three sides.

So, where in the centre was the original Steinberg? Fortunately, a quick web search yielded a vintage photo of the mall from a Facebook page. After upscaling the image a bit, my eye was drawn to a snazzy storefront with a canopy formed out of diamonds...certainly in tune with the expressive architecture I'd expect from Steinberg. And a sign bearing the mid-1960s Steinberg logo was (barely) visible on the right edge!
steinberglondon67a.jpg
Thanks to the impressions left by the drainage channels between the frontal diamonds, it's easy to pick out the location where Steinberg was...in both the historical and contemporary aerial images! Sadly, even though the roof of Steinberg is still intact, nothing else is. The original facade is long-gone and subsumed by expansions. The interior has been gutted, and it now exists as the enclosed central courtyard area of the mall. Still...the next time I'm over there, I'll take a close look. Maybe I can still get a feel for the original configuration of the place...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 17 Jun 2019 14:10

A few London thoughts for June...

* I just noticed that the London feature page is still titled "1955-2018" even though I pushed the coverage back to 1925 some months ago. (Can you please fix this, David?)

* One of London's near-abandoned shopping centres is the Treasure Island Mall/Superstore Mall at 4380 Wellington Road South, which reportedly contained a Loblaws Superstore in the 1980s. When I did my research last year, I couldn't find any reference to a Loblaws at 4380 in the 1980s...but there was a Loblaws at 1550 Wellington in 1985. Could these two numbers actually be the same address? The area surrounding the mall was not annexed by the city of London until 1993...and annexations beget renumbering more often than not.

* A source of perennial frustration I've had in researching locations in London has been my lack of ability to pinpoint precise construction dates or opening dates. The city has very little in the way of pre-1990s building records available online. The local newspaper archives haven't been digitized...and while microfilmed copies are available at Western University, they might be the worst-compiled microfilms I've seen in my lifelong interaction with the medium! Individual reels cover frustratingly-short spans of time; individual issues are duplicated haphazardly within the reel (so you end up seeing the same pages over and over again), and pages are sequenced backwards...so you have to scroll through them from right to left! If only there was a better way...
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 19 Jun 2019 16:15

And, a follow-up a day later...
Andrew T. wrote:
17 Jun 2019 14:10
* One of London's near-abandoned shopping centres is the Treasure Island Mall/Superstore Mall at 4380 Wellington Road South, which reportedly contained a Loblaws Superstore in the 1980s. When I did my research last year, I couldn't find any reference to a Loblaws at 4380 in the 1980s...but there was a Loblaws at 1550 Wellington in 1985. Could these two numbers actually be the same address? The area surrounding the mall was not annexed by the city of London until 1993...and annexations beget renumbering more often than not.
Today, I hit the books to see if I could clear the air on this location. What I found surprised me!

First off: 1550 and 4380 Wellington are in fact the same location. In fact, the address number for the Superstore Mall changed and shifted rapidly throughout the 1980s and 1990s, even before the area was annexed by the city!

The second element of surprise? In about 1990, Loblaws rebranded this store under the "Zehrs Food Plus" banner. This is the first reliable evidence I've seen of the company ever using the Zehrs brand in London...and it's perplexing, since all their other stores in London remained branded as Loblaws throughout the 1990s and remain branded as Loblaws now.

So in summary...
1985: Loblaws Groceteria at Superstore Mall, 1550 Wellington Road.
1990: Loblaws Groceteria at Superstore Mall, 1420 Wellington Road.
1991: Zehrs Food Plus at Superstore Mall, 1420 Wellington Road.
1995: Zehrs Food Plus at Superstore Mall, 4380 Wellington Road. (Post-annexation)
2000: No supermarket tenant at Superstore Mall, 4380 Wellington Road.

This store originally had a sloped front, visible in this picture. Unfortunately, this kitschy bit of 1980s weirdness was covered over by a boxy facade a few years ago as the Loblaws property was subdivided and repurposed.

Since I still have write permissions, I've already added this information to the spreadsheet.

I also traced and added a few locations belonging to Loeb, the Ontario grocery chain that I always forget about. Loeb reoccupied a couple of the Miracle Food Mart and Dominion stores that A&P divested in the '80s...which makes it all the more ironic that Loeb got swallowed up by Metro alongside A&P. Loeb also maintained a warehouse facility and two "cash and carry" wholesale outlets in London in addition to its stores, and the directories aren't always clear about which is which. But I think I have it straightened out.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 25 Jul 2019 22:20

I've been in the midst of preparing yet another London table update (mainly to add the independents that were linked together under the Superior banner in the 1950s and 1960s)...but here's something else I wanted to share!

The 1970 London city directory lists a Loblaws store at 1141 Guildwood Blvd. This location was perplexing: It's a residential address, it isn't listed in any other directory, and it seemed far-fetched as the site of a supermarket. Still, both Loblaws and A&P opened some short-lived stores in the 1960s and 1970s, and I remained open to the possibility that the neighbourhood could have been redeveloped and the street realigned over the years.
loblaw70.jpg
So, I checked the reverse-lookup section. What did I find? Spoiler: It was never a Loblaws store. This address was the residence of a random local resident named R. B. Loblaw. The directory publishers got confused when they compiled their data, and lumped this "Loblaw" in with the others! Not the first time I've seen something like this happen, and I doubt it'll be the last.

I wonder if poor ol' R.B. in 1970 had to fend off grocery shoppers attempting to buy meat and potatoes at his door?
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 27 Jul 2019 11:03

OK, folks. I flew in another update (and was able to do the data import myself, so no raw CSVs):

London - Google Sheets

I adjusted the 1961 and 2011 columns to 1960 and 2010, and also added a 2013 column for the last year of the Vernon directory (which was a yawner due to a lack of store development in that timeframe, and also required constant Google Maps double-checking since the publisher's classified listings were neither accurate nor complete).
miles.jpg
But the biggest addition consisted of 29 store locations, most of which were Superior stores. As touched upon upthread, Superior seemed to emerge by 1950 as a consortium of independents that decided to fend for survival against the chains by banding together into a buyer's cooperative that advertised and signed itself under a single name. See the quaint storefront above, that's still in business today as a "variety"/candy store? This was Ezra Taleski's grocery, which opened by 1925, became Taleski Superior by 1950, and lasted in business through 1965 or beyond.

Unfortunately many of the Superior stores of the 1950s were obsolete even by the standards of the day, and banding together into an ersatz chain did little to stave off the independents' decline other than delay it by a few years. By the late 1960s Superior was in free-fall, and a decade later there was only a single store left: Gates Superior at 730 William St., which was hollowed out of the lower story of a house and scarcely qualified as a supermarket. By 1985 even this was gone.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

User avatar
Andrew T.
Senior Member
Posts: 530
Joined: 18 Oct 2007 14:26
Location: Thunder Bay
Contact:

Re: Stores in London, Ontario

Post by Andrew T. » 28 Jul 2019 01:23

Another historical photo: Dundas Looking East To Talbot, Spring 1972.

The Loblaws store at 94-96 Dundas Street is predominant in the foreground. And oh, what a store it was! A green vertical tower sign with neon and integrated clock; aluminum trim, and art-deco fluorishes all over the facade!

This particular store opened by 1945 and must have closed soon after this photo was taken: It's not listed in the 1975 directory. Naturally, it no longer stands at all: The entire half-block was cleared of development late in the decade for the construction of the Bell Canada Building, which was completed in 1981.
"The pale pastels which have been featured in most food stores during the past 20 years are no longer in tune with the mood of the 1970s."
Andrew Turnbull

Post Reply