Friday, November 30, 2007
Farewell Old Friend--The Morningside Mall is Gone
There was certainly no minute silence to mark her passing. Indeed the roar of the tractors, powershovels, crushers and dump trucks was louder than ever as the last of the Mall came down on a bleak November 30, 2007. In the picture above, only the North front stairwell to the second floor remains standing, behind the new Morningside Crossing.
Still young by any standards, the Mall suffered from internal decay, the life slowly bled out of her over the last ten years.
Among the first signs of trouble, more than a decade ago, was the closing of Jack Sprats restaurant on the upper level between a pet food store and Shoppers Drug Mart. It wasn't so much that the restaurant closed as the inability of the Mall to find a new tenant for the site. It sat empty for several years with a large "For Rent" sign out front before the Mall gave in and simply walled over the area making it look as if nothing had ever been there. Soon to follow was the loss of Walking on a Cloud and Mahar's Shoes. The loss of Second Cup Coffee with its lively and attractive wait staff was a devastating blow. Then we said goodbye to Suzie Shear, Town and Country, Jack Fraser's and the other clothing stores. The Library moved from the third to the second floor, to disguise the growing number of empty store fronts with "For Rent" signs in the windows. The closing of Home Hardware and the German deli on the ground floor were the writing on the wall for all to see. The two jewelery stores got tired of being robbed and fled early.
Security Guards began to patrol the two levels of the Mall. Their very presence an advertisement that the Mall was no longer safe. Shoppers began to stay away in droves.
When Walmart pulled out it was clear it was over. No more would the little animated family wave at us from above the movator at Christmas time, as they had since Woolco days. Coles bookstore fled to far distant Kennedy and the 401, to become Chapters. Blacks photography held on until nearly the end. As did Nat and Mario's and Cadet dry cleaners and the shoe repair. The Library moved to Manse Road and away from the major population centre. Then Dominion closed forever. Soon only the banks and the convenience store remained.
Gradually all the fast food restaurants brought down their shutters for the last time until only coffee time on the bottom floor was left.
Now all we have are memories. And for good memories we have to stretch back a very long way indeed. However, somewhere, in almost every West Hill resident's photo album there is a picture of them or their children taken in the lower level court yard of the Mall, seated on Santa's knee and beaming radiantly at the camera . Those are the memories that will last forever.