“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared September 28, 1997.
Hudson's Bay Company Store # 4
• 200 8th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1912 - 1913
• Architect: Burke, Horwood and White of Toronto (architects for Toronto's Simpson's store)
• Contractor: Carter, Halls and Aldringer
• Original cost: $1.5 million
• Original owner: Hudson's Bay Company
• Construction materials: Steel, concrete and brick. Clad with cream - glazed terra cotta pieced together to give the appearance of load bearing construction. Granite trim. Copper and brass frames on main floor display windows.
• Architectural style: Edwardian (department store) classical. Six storeys. Facade organized into three divisions. "The base features display windows behind an arched colonnade. The middle division, the second to fifth floors, features unifying engaged pilasters and the sixth floor with its decorative cornice is the third division."
• Original interior details: Marble mosaic floors in the vestibule, plaster walls and ceilings, mahogany trim and fittings and rich carpets bearing the Company crest. Building featured stationary vacuum cleaner system, pneumatic tube delivery system, 10 Otis Fenson elevators, its own independent power generating plant and an artesian well in the basement.
• store erected facing 7th Avenue and 2nd Street S.W. on property purchased in March 1911 from Senator James Lougheed.
• Hudson's Bay Company had served Calgarians since 1876 and outgrown three other stores by 1911.
• Calgary was the first modern store erected as part of the Company's expansion program, partly because of the city's thriving economy.
• excavation began in 1911 but the Company's London officials were so shocked by the projected cost that they postponed construction for a year. Stores Commissioner Burbidge suggested that such a delay would be detrimental to the Company's prestige.
• in March 1912 construction was resumed.
• store was officially opened August 18, 1913 when Alberta's Lieutenant - Governor Bulyea turned the gold key opening the main doors on 7th Avenue. Local papers estimated that 12,000 Calgarians attended the opening.
• the 103rd rifles (drum and bugle core), the Fifteenth Light Horse, mounted city police participated in the parade and opening ceremonies.
• following the formal opening 300 guests of honour (including stores Commissioner Herbert E. Burbidge, Mayor Sinnott, Bishop Pinkham, R.B. Bennett, Colonel Walker, Pat Burns, Dr. Blow and Captain Deane) sat down to luncheon in the magnificent sixth floor restaurant the "Elizabethan Room."
• the Elizabethan Room was "designed and decorated throughout in the heraldic splendor of the period; oak panelling, cathedral leaded light stained windows, with rich draperies and leathered upholstered chairs bearing the coats-of-arms of the Company." Two 14th Century suits of armour guarded the entrance.
• store opened for business at 8:30 a.m. and closed at 6:00 p.m. on weekdays and 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays. Wednesday afternoon was a half holiday. Company employed 600 staff.
• new store featured 40 retail departments, men's smoking lounge, nursery, women's rest room, circulating library, in-store "hospital", post office, telegraphic station and roof-top playground where a Company appointed Governess watched over the children while parents shopped. The playground was equipped with see-saws, swings and sandpits.
• according to a local newspaper the store compared favourably to Harrod's of London, England.
• 1929 the Company demolished the Alexander Corner at 8th Avenue and 1st Street West to build a $2.5 million addition to the 1911 structure. According to the Company magazine the Beaver, the resulting structure, covered seven acres of floor space.
• outstanding feature of the 1929 addition was the colonnade of polished Quebec granite columns, terra cotta archways and the mosaic terrazzo floor which graced the 8th Avenue and 1st Street frontages. Contractors were Bennett and White.
• 1930 - a sixty foot beacon, one of the earliest aeronautical beacons in the world, was erected on the roof. With three million candle power, the beam was reputedly visible up to one hundred and fifty miles away.
• 1956 - parkade constructed on 7th Avenue.
• June 1958 - official opening of the $3.5 million addition (130,000 square feet) to the 8th Avenue side of the six storey store. Great care was taken to match the terra cotta tiles and the design of the colonnade. 3,940 pieces of terra cotta were custom made by an American firm to match the originals at a cost of $250,000.
• 1962 - $2 million addition to parkade which included a complete service station
• 1963 - construction of one of Canada's most modern cafeterias. In September the $393,000 "Chinook Room" opened on the sixth floor.
• 1965 - Hudson's Bay Company was officially re-named the "Bay".
• interior has been renovated several times since 1913 but the exterior remains essentially intact.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared December 21, 2004.
• The Hudson's Bay Co. acquired the lot from Senator James Lougheed in 1911, after outgrowing three previous stores since 1876. After delayed construction due to cost, the Edwardian classical style building opened to great fanfare Aug. 18, 1913. This modern store was equipped with the latest devices including elevators, a pneumatic tube message delivery system and its own artesian well. Building highlights included a rooftop children's play area complete with governess, the mezzanine "Rendezvous" area with telegraphs and a circulating library, and the Elizabethan restaurant. The neighbouring Alexander Block was demolished in 1929 for expansion and the addition of the colonnade. One of the world's earliest aeronautical beacons was erected on the roof in 1930.
• Canada's oldest and largest department store chain, renamed The Bay in 1965, is now part of HBC, which also owns Zellers and Home Outfitters. Amidst celebrations of the Bay's 334th birthday, there is speculation that U.S. investor Jerry Zuckor, who owns 20 per cent of the company, plans to merge it with U.S. retail chains.
The Calgary store's interior has been renovated several times over the years. The exterior, clad with cream-glazed terra cotta pieced together to give the appearance of load-bearing construction, remains virtually unchanged, as does the colonnade with Quebec granite columns. The company's proud tradition can still be seen in architectural details such as the decorative coats of arms on the corner piers.