The Metro grocery store at Parkway Mall at Ellesmere and Victoria Park in Scarborough (Google Map |MSN Live Search Map) was just nominated for historical designation by Scarborough Community Council. It would be the first such grocery store to be designated in Toronto. I’ve always liked this store and see the nomination as quite a worthy choice, with a graceful arched roof that reminds me of an elaborate bridge. While elegant in the day, I find it is most beautiful at night. The staff report recommending consideration can be found here, and current and a historical rendering are posted at Urban Toronto Forum.
The grocery store, the only part of the mall considered for preservation, opened as Grand Union in 1958. It changed named several times reflecting the changes in ownership – it then became a Steinberg’s, then Miracle Food Mart, Dominion, and recently rebranded as Metro after that Quebec chain’s purchase of A&P and Dominion stores in Ontario.
Parkway Mall was designed to be a community-scale shopping centre rather than a large regional mall like Fairview or Scarborough Town Centre, Its store mix is not geared towards destination shopping, but what’s there is the kind of retail and services that’s essential at the neighbourhood level. The rest of the property will likely be redeveloped as a commercial, office and residential complex, dooming the rest of the indoor mall, but hopefully historical designation will protect the one element that has escaped extensive remodeling and reconstruction (Parkway Mall originally was an outdoor plaza , and later expanded, enclosed, and remodeled).
The local councillor, Michael Thompson, is to be commended for his support for historical designation. Suburban buildings such as this, built in the 1950s through the 1970s, are the ones most in danger of demolition and redevelopment. It is true that many buildings of this era are expendable, there are the notable exceptions. I am sure there are other worthy examples aross suburban Toronto from this era, but not being as old as what is usually thought of as ‘heritage’, they may be easy to overlook. They don’t build ’em like this anymore.