New Sudbury Historical Society hits the mall
What many shoppers may not know is the very land the mall sits on was once farm land, home to the Spencer Family dairy establishment, then William Downe's riding club that hosted Sunday afternoon races.
Sometime around 1955, Downe sold 20 acres of his property to Principal Investments Limited, who opened an outdoor L-shape shopping plaza.
Arthemise Camirand-Peterson, president of the New Sudbury Historical Society, said the venue was home to the largest Woolworth variety store in Canada, a Loblaw grocery store and a 16-lane bowling alley. Another 19 stores were slated to open, but an electrical room fire ruined those plans.
Renovations, however, later turned the mall into the indoor shopping centre with which we are now familiar.
“The mall became a magnet for shoppers and young families attracted by large-lot, single-family homes at reasonable prices quickly populated this part of the city,” Camirand-Peterson said.
The history of the property at the corner of Lasalle and Barrydowne is fairly well documented; however, that's not the case for much of New Sudbury. To help paint a picture of what the north end of the city was like between the 1880s and 1965, Camirand-Peterson and other members of the society are setting up shop at the New Sudbury Shopping Centre from Jan. 14 to 20 in hopes of collecting some of that history in the form of stories, photos and other information.
“We'd like (people) to tell us what they were told or documented or remember themselves,” Camirand-Peterson said.
Once the society has collected enough information, they plan to release a book about the history of the region.
Camirand-Peterson said she is hoping the final product will be filled with “stories that make it interesting.”
She said any information and artifacts are welcome for consideration, and pieces not published in the book will be kept for the archives.
Camirand-Peterson, who isn't even from the region, said she was inspired to learn more about her current hometown simply because she loves history.
“It's like solving a mystery,” she said.
Anyone with information to share is welcome to stop by the mall from Jan. 14-20 from 9:30 a.m. to closing.
For more information about the New Sudbury Historical Society, contact Camirand-Peterson at 705-524-9436.