By: Jack Jackowetz
Retail and Commercial Changes
Brantford was no longer a city in transition. Change was well underway. New suburban housing and commercial developments were being built. The downtown began its rapid decline as the commercial centre of the City, it would be supplanted by Lynden Park Mall, Brantford Mall and strip mall developments along King George Road. Retail growth along Colborne Street serving the east end of the City was also occurring and mirroring the developments along King George Road.
Expansion of the Brantford Plaza began in 1971. The expansion added 65,000 square feet of new space that included a drug store and a three-screen cinema, Cinemas 3. This was Brantford’s first multiplex theatre. The largest theatre sat 500; the other two accommodated 300 patrons each. Woolco increased its floor space by another 15,000 square feet. Construction was completed in 1972 and the shopping centre was renamed Brantford Mall, Brantford’s first fully enclosed shopping mall. The mall featured Woolco and Loblaw’s as its anchor stores. Super City Discount Foods was enlarged and rebranded to Loblaw’s. The changes at the Brantford Plaza were a counteroffensive to the pending development of Lynden Park Mall at Lynden Road and Park Road North.
In 1973 the Brewer’s Retail, now known as The Beer Store, built a new standalone store at the Brantford Mall and the Flash gas bar rebranded to Gulf. In 1976 the Brantford Mall underwent another expansion with the addition of the Right House store. Right House moved from downtown Brantford to the mall. The addition also included an LCBO outlet. This expansion gave Brantford Mall two traditional anchor stores and a large grocery store.
Lynden Park Mall
Lynden Park Mall opened in 1974 in two stages. The anchor stores, Kmart and Sears, opened on 1-May-1974. Construction of the mall continued after the anchor stores opened and the mall proper that connected the two stores opened on 1-August-1974. Lynden Park Mall featured Miracle Food Mart, Sneaky Pete’s and the Tudor Arms Restaurants, Royal Bank, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, People’s Jewellers, Coles Bookstore, Laura Secord, Camerama and many others, about 80 stores in total. The Kmart store closed in 1998 after Kmart Canada was acquired by the Hudson Bay Company. The Sears store closed on 14-January-2018 because of the bankruptcy of the company.
King George Road
The Red Barn Restaurant closed in 1972 after only three years in business, shortly after Burger Chef closed. McDonald’s opened their first Brantford location in May-1972 at 73 King George Road. The Ponderosa Steak House at 67 King George Road opened in 1972 (it is now the Red Lobster). Pop Shoppe opened at 157 King George Road at Oxford Street. Pizza Chief moved to the old Burger Chef location at 45 King George Road in 1974. Wendy’s opened their second restaurant in Canada at 64 King George Road, the site of the old Red Barn restaurant. Wendy’s first Canadian restaurant opened in Hamilton.
Mother’s Pizza Parlour opened in 1975, it is now the Harvey’s restaurant on King George Road. The reincarnated Mother’s Pizza Parlour opened in 2015 at King George Road and Oxford Street only to close in March-
2018. Baskins & Robins opened at 53-55 King George Road in 1978.
Shoprite Catalogue store opened in 1972 at 250 King George Road, the present location of Al Dente restaurant. During the early 1970s catalogue shopping became all the rage. Within ten years only Consumers Distributing remained.
In downtown Brantford Loblaw’s closed their store at 20 Darling Street in 1971. The Strand Hotel on Dalhousie Street closed in 1971. The hotel was renovated and opened in 1972 as the Squires Court featuring exotic dancers. Woolworth’s enlarged and modernised their store in 1972, installing escalators, the first escalators in Brantford. Mike Suerich opens Mike’s Camera Shop at 40 Dalhousie Street, in the Lough’s Block. Mike was the Manager of the camera department at Woolco before he ventured on his own. Paul’s Furniture and Sound moved to 225 Colborne Street from the Mohawk Plaza. The Mohawk Plaza store opened in 1970. In 1976 Paul’s buys the old National Grocers Building at 251 Colborne Street and relocates the store.
The Art Gallery of Brant opens Arts Place at 76 Dalhousie Street in 1972 bringing an art gallery to the downtown. The Art Gallery of Brant merged with Glenhyrst in 1986.
Don Heys, a long-time employee at Parson’s Radio and Electric, opened his own store, Don Heys Appliances, 193 Colborne Street in 1975. Dirty Dan the Discount Man opened a second location in the old Canadian Tire Store at Colborne and Clarence Streets. Their Erie Avenue store was closed in 1977.
Walker’s Stores is acquired by Marks and Spencer in 1975. Marks and Spencer’s closed this store in 1977 as the two suburban malls drain business from the downtown.
The Dominion store at Market and Darling Streets closed on 26-March-1977. The 10 full time employees were transferred to the St Paul Avenue store and to stores in Hamilton and Cambridge. The building was purchased by the Toronto Dominion Bank in September-1976. TD closed their branch at Dalhousie and Market Streets after this new 4,500 square foot space was renovated.
Also in 1977, the Prince Edward Hotel at the corner of Colborne and Bridge Streets changed its name to the Best View Hotel, the Woolworth store was rebranded Woolco and the A & N Store (Army & Navy) opened in the former Right House location, 147 Colborne Street. The Bank of Nova Scotia opened their new bank building at 170 Colborne Street at Market Street in 1979. The building is located across the street from their long-time branch which was demolished and replaced by Massey House, the new administrative office for Massey Combine Corporation. Cowboy’s night club (now Club NV) opened at 234 Colborne Street in 1980. A & N Store closed in 1980 due to diminishing downtown retail traffic.
Pat Alonzo Music moves to 971 Colborne Street, way out by Garden Avenue, in 1972. Tim Hortons opens its second city location in 1973 at 640 Colborne Street across from Pauline Johnson Collegiate. H Salt Esq. Fish & Chips opened next door to Tim Hortons (634 Colborne Street). In 1974 Canadian Tire moved from their downtown location at Colborne and Clarence Streets to the former Gambles Department Store building at 573 Colborne Street. Jarmain Cable TV moved their studio from the Canadian Tire Plaza to 23 Henry Street in 1975. McLennan’s Lunch, a long established East Ward hamburger and hot dog restaurant closed in 1977. Wendy’s opened their second city location at 656 Colborne Street, across from Pauline Johnson Collegiate.
Mohawk Ponitac Buick opened a brand new facility at 141 King George Road in 1974. Gametime Eatery & Entertainment (formerly Wacky Wings) now occupies this location. Len McGee Motors becomes Ted Scherle Plymouth Chrysler, 135 King George Road, in 1977. The dealership becomes Brantford Chrysler Plymouth in 1979. Al’s Shoe Factory Outlet is now located at this former car dealership.
Pop Shoppe opened their second location at 206 Henry Street in 1973. This is now the site of the Pioneer gasoline station, next to the German Club, Sonenhof. Tim Hortons opened their third location at 615 West Street in 1978. McDonald’s opened their second location at 27 Stanley Street, the former A & P store in 1979. McDonald’s occupied about two-thirds of the building.
Calbeck’s Food Markets opened their fourth Brantford location in 1979 at 225 Fairview Drive at Hayhurst Road. This store featured indirect lighting, light was reflected off the ceiling rather than from the ceiling. Calbeck’s also had stores in Paris, Waterford, Simcoe, and Port Dover.
With the opening of the new Loblaw’s store at the Brantford Mall in 1972 the grocery store at 10 King George Road at St Paul Avenue was closed. This store launched the suburban shopping centre in Brantford. The store was renovated into a Home Hardware Store, the largest Home Hardware store in Canada at that time.
A & P closed both of their Brantford stores, 43 King George Road at Queensway Drive and 27 Stanley Street at Dalhousie Street in 1974. These mid-1950’s built stores did not offer the range of products the newer and bigger supermarkets carried.
Big changes are in store for two of the City’s major employers, the downtown and King George Road in the 1980s.