7 8 9
7, Part 2
NAR: While it happened gradually, by the mid-1980s the decline
of Portage Ave alarmed civic officials. Confronting the same
story as in most North American cities. Suburban malls had
eaten away the business of the downtown stores. To offset
the decline, a new downtown shopping mall, named Portage Place,
was built, through a public-private partnership.
MAZUR, PORTAGE PLACE MANAGER
Portage Place is a four level shopping centre. It was built
in 1987 by Cadillac Fairview in conjunction with the 3 levels
of govt. It has over 125 retail stores and office and houses
the only Imax theatre, Arts theatre the Globe and Prairie
Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg.
Did Portage Place cause the death of Eaton's?
Portage Place did not kill Eaton's whatsoever. Eaton's, as
you know struggled a long time, as it was passed down in the
families. And it I believe it could have kept on going if
someone in the family could have run it better. Portage Place
actually was great supporter of Eaton's.
NAR: Anchoring the West End of the Portage Place redevelopment
is the Investors tower.
MAURO, INVESTORS GROUP
I joined Investors in 1976. At the time we were considering
the redevelopment of the head office. The problem of Portage
Ave and the redevelopment of Portage Ave. As someone had said,
the north side of Portage Ave reminded them of downtown Beirut;
there were so many empty buildings and derelict buildings.
the best contribution that Investors could make was that we
would anchor the West End of the commercial aspect of Portage
Ave by developing our head office here on Portage Avenue.
My feeling was that if there were one symbol of western Canada
it was the grain elevator. The roofline and everything is
intended to be symbolic of what I think Kipling once referred
to as Castles of Commerce: the grain elevator.
colours were intended to be earth brown and green again seeking
that aspect of the attachment to the land. The windows and
the glass is plainly reflective of the big sky country of
air and light. But maybe it was my vision that resulted in
the sculpture. That's what has been captured there. It is
a prairie boy's vision. He's looking out and he's looking
up and looking to the future.
NAR: One hundred and forty years earlier another man had looked
at the emerging prairie landscape and saw Portage Avenue's
future. Henry McKenny. Establishing the first business at
Portage and Main.
arrived in 1859 on the Anson Northup, the first steamboat
to reach the Red River Colony from Georgetown Minnesota. McKenny
bought a storehouse from Andrew McDermot and in 1862 converted
it into the first hotel called the Royal. The die was cast.
Buildings sprang up in a few short years, the corner was booming.
the corners were built up by the end of WW1, the corner stayed
pretty much the same. Through WW2, through the 50s. and 60s,
No new buildings. The famous corner of portage and main had
seen no sense of modern times. But it was not for lack of
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