Toronto Eaton Centre

The Toronto Eaton Centre (corporately styled as the CF Toronto Eaton Centre since September 2015,[2] and commonly referred to simply as the Eaton Centre) is a shopping mall and office complex in Downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is owned and managed by Cadillac Fairview (CF). It was named after the Eaton's department store chain that once anchored it before the chain became defunct in the late 1990s.

Toronto Eaton Centre
Looking south in the atrium of the Toronto Eaton Centre
Location220 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario
M5B 2H1
Coordinates43°39′14″N 79°22′49″W / 43.65389°N 79.38028°W / 43.65389; -79.38028Coordinates: 43°39′14″N 79°22′49″W / 43.65389°N 79.38028°W / 43.65389; -79.38028
Opening date1977 (first phase)
DeveloperCadillac Fairview, TD Bank, Eaton's
ManagementCadillac Fairview
OwnerCadillac Fairview
ArchitectEberhard Zeidler & B+H Architects
No. of stores and services235
No. of anchor tenants6 (Hudson's Bay, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, H&M, Canadian Tire and Best Buy)[1]
Total retail floor area201,320 square metres (2,167,000 sq ft)[1]
No. of floors4 (mall arcade, including galleria), 10 (portion formerly occupied by Eaton's store), 8 (Hudson's Bay building), 36 (highest number of storeys of office component)
Public transit accessTTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Dundas
TTC - Line 1 - Yonge-University-Spadina line.svg Queen

The Toronto Eaton Centre attracts the most visitors of any of Toronto's tourist attractions.[3] It is North America's busiest shopping mall, due to extensive transit access, its downtown location and tourist traffic. With 48,969,858 visitors in 2015 alone, the centre sees more annual visitors than either of the two busiest malls in the United States (Mall of America and Ala Moana Center), or Central Park in New York City. The number of visitors to the Toronto Eaton Centre in 2015 exceeds the total 2015 passenger counts at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Canada's largest and busiest airport.[1]

Location and accessEdit

The Eaton Centre (centre foreground) is located in Downtown Toronto.

The main portion of the Toronto Eaton Centre complex is bounded by Yonge Street on the east, Queen Street West on the south, Dundas Street West on the north, and to the west by James Street and Trinity Square. The flagship location of the Hudson's Bay department store chain, which has been part of the complex since Cadillac Fairview's purchase of the building in 2014,[4] is connected to the rest of the complex by a skywalk over Queen Street West, and itself is bounded by Yonge Street to the east, Queen Street West to the north, Richmond Street West to the south, and Bay Street to the west. The main retail mall in the centre is organized around a long arcade, running parallel to Yonge Street.

The Toronto Eaton Centre's interior passages also form part of Toronto's PATH underground pedestrian network, and the centre is served by two subway stations: Dundas and Queen on Line 1 Yonge–University. The complex also contains four office buildings (at 20 Queen Street West, 250 Yonge Street, 1 Dundas Street West and 401 Bay Street) and the Ryerson University Ted Rogers School of Management. Additionally, the Eaton Centre is linked to a 17-storey Marriott hotel.


The Sears Canada headquarters were inside an eight-storey Sears location within the Toronto Eaton Centre. The headquarters moved there from 222 Jarvis Street. The lower four floors of the Eaton Centre location housed a retail store while the upper four floors housed the headquarters.[5]


Early plansEdit

The view northwest from Yonge and Queen Streets at the various Eaton's buildings in 1920, demonstrating the extent of Eaton's landholdings on the current site of the Eaton Centre.

Timothy Eaton founded a dry goods store on Yonge Street in the 19th century that revolutionized retailing in Canada, and became the largest department store chain in the country. By the 20th century, the Eaton's chain owned most of the land bounded by Yonge, Queen, Bay and Dundas streets, with the notable exceptions of Old City Hall and the Church of the Holy Trinity. The Eaton's land, once the site of Timothy Eaton's first store, was occupied by Eaton's large Main Store, the Eaton's Annex and a number of related mail order and factory buildings. As the chain's warehouse and support operations were increasingly shifting to cheaper suburban locales in the 1960s, Eaton's wanted to make better use of its valuable downtown landholdings. In particular, the chain wanted to build a massive new flagship store to replace the aging Main Store at Yonge and Queen and the Eaton's College Street store a few blocks to the north.

In the mid-1960s, Eaton's announced plans for a massive office and shopping complex that would occupy several city blocks. Eaton's sought to demolish Toronto's Old City Hall (except for the clock tower and cenotaph) and the Church of the Holy Trinity. The plan required the closing of a number of small city streets within the block: Albert Street, Louisa Street, Terauley Street (not to be confused with the stretch of Bay Street north of Queen Street, also formerly known as Terauley Street), James Street, Albert Lane, Downey's Lane and Trinity Square. At one point, even the Old City Hall clock tower was to be demolished. After a fierce local debate over the fate of the city hall and church buildings, Eaton's put its plans on hiatus in 1967.

The Eaton Centre plans were resuscitated in 1971, although these plans allowed for the preservation of Old City Hall. Controversy erupted anew, however, as the congregation of the Church of the Holy Trinity exhibited an increased willingness to fight the demolition plans for its church. Eventually, the Eaton Centre plans were revised to save Old City Hall and the church, and then revised further when Holy Trinity's parishioners successfully fought to ensure that the new complex would not block all sunlight to the church.

These amendments to the plans resulted in three significant changes to the proposed centre from the 1960s concept. First, the new Eaton's store was shifted north to Dundas Street, as the new store would be too large to be accommodated in its existing location on Queen Street (opposite its rival Simpson's, which is now the Hudson's Bay store) as a result of the preservation of Old City Hall. This resulted in the mall being constructed with Eaton's and Simpson's acting as anchors at either end. The second significant change was the reduction in the size of the office component, so that the Eaton Centre project no longer represented an attempt to extend the City's financial district north of Queen Street, as the Eaton family had contemplated in the 1960s. Finally, the bulk of the centre was shifted east to the Yonge Street frontage, and the complex was designed so that it no longer had any frontage along Bay Street. Old City Hall and the church were thus saved, as was the Salvation Army headquarters building by virtue of its location between the two other preserved buildings (although the Salvation Army building was demolished in the late 1990s to make way for an Eaton Centre expansion and the Salvation Army's Canadian head offices moved to Leaside).


At the time of the centre's opening in 1977, the complex was marketed as "The Eaton Centre", before changing its name to "Toronto Eaton Centre" in the early 1990s to disambiguate from other Eaton Centres across Canada.[6]

Despite the bankruptcy of the Eaton's department store chain in 1999 (and the closure of a short-lived Sears Canada-owned revival in 2002), the mall retained the Eaton Centre name, representing an ongoing tribute to Timothy Eaton and the small shop he once opened at this location. However, as Sears retained the Eaton's trademarks and other intellectual property, the name was used under licence until December 2016, when Cadillac Fairview acquired the Eaton's IP outright.[7]

In early 2014, mall management began an effort to enforce usage of the full "Toronto Eaton Centre" name. However, at that time, exterior signage was inconsistent as to the centre's name, with signs facing Yonge–Dundas Square simply reading "Eaton Centre" while several others used the full name.[6] Soon after, in September 2015, Cadillac Fairview announced it was rebranding all of its mall properties by adding the prefix "CF"; thus, the complex has subsequently been referred to as "CF Toronto Eaton Centre" by its owners.[2] This branding was phased in on signage over the following year as renovations in the former Sears wing concluded.


Eaton's partnered with the Cadillac Fairview development company and the Toronto-Dominion Bank in the construction of the Eaton Centre. The complex was designed by Eberhard Zeidler and Bregman + Hamann Architects as a multi-levelled, vaulted glass-ceiling galleria, modelled after the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy. At the time, the interior design of the Eaton Centre was considered revolutionary and influenced shopping centre architecture throughout North America.

Exterior of the Eaton Centre, 1979, from the Toronto Archives

The first phase, including the nine-storey, 1,000,000-square-foot (93,000 m2) Eaton's store, opened in 1977. The temporary wall at the south end was mirrored over its full height, to give an impression of what the complete galleria would look like. The old Eaton's store at Yonge and Queen was then demolished and the south half of the complex opened in its place in 1979. The same year, the north end of the complex added a multiplex cinema, Cineplex, at the time the largest in the world with 18 screens.[citation needed]

Terauley Street, Louisa Street, Downey's Lane and Albert Lane were closed and disappeared from the city street grid to make way for the new complex. Albert Street and James Street were preserved only to the extent of their frontage around Old City Hall (although at the request of the Church of the Holy Trinity, the city of Toronto required that pedestrians be able to cross through the mall where Albert Street once existed at all times, which is still possible. Trinity Square, however, lost its public access to Yonge Street, and became a pedestrian-only square with access via Bay Street.

Many urban planners and designers have lamented the original exterior design of the Eaton Centre. The complex was oriented inwards, with very few street-facing retail stores, windows or even mall entrances to animate the exterior. Much of the Yonge Street façade, facing what was once one of Toronto's primary shopping thoroughfares, was dominated by a parking garage. At the insistence of the Metro Toronto government, which had jurisdiction over major roads, the complex was set back from Yonge Street. The goal was to eventually add an additional lane to the street. As a result, the complex was set back a considerable distance from Yonge Street, thus further weakening the centre's streetscape presence.

250 Yonge is one of four office components built into the Eaton Centre complex.

The office component of the complex was constructed over the years, as follows:

  • "One Dundas West" (29 storeys) in 1977, designed by B+H Architects and Zeidler Partnership Architects;
  • "Cadillac Fairview Tower" (36 storeys) in 1982, designed by Bregman + Hamann Architects, and Zeidler Partnership Architects;[8]
  • "250 Yonge Street" (formerly Eaton Tower) (35 storeys) in 1992, designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects, and Crang & Boake; and
  • "Simpson Tower" (33 storeys) at 401 Bay Street, completed in 1969 and became part of the Toronto Eaton Centre upon Cadillac Fairview's acquisition of the Hudson's Bay block in 2014.

Early yearsEdit

The exterior of the Eaton Centre store was designed in the style of the 1970s, intended at that time to be a statement of Eaton's dominance and its aspirations. Despite the controversy and criticisms, the centre was an immediate success, spawning many different shopping centres across Canada bearing the same brand name of Eaton. The mall's profits were said[who?] to be so lucrative that it has often[who?] been credited with keeping the troubled Eaton's chain afloat for another two decades before it succumbed to bankruptcy in 1999. Today, the Eaton Centre is one of North America's top shopping destinations, and is Toronto's most popular tourist attraction.[3]

The Eaton Centre features fibreglass Canada geese hanging from the ceiling.

One of the most prominent sights in the shopping mall is the group of fibreglass Canada geese hanging from the ceiling. This sculpture, named Flight Stop, is the work of artist Michael Snow. It was also the subject of an important intellectual property court ruling. One year, the management of the centre decided to decorate the geese with red ribbons for Christmas, without consulting Snow. Snow sued, arguing that the ribbons made his naturalistic work "ridiculous" and harmed his reputation as an artist, and in Snow v Eaton Centre Ltd, the court ruled that even though the centre owned the sculpture, the ribbons had infringed Snow's moral rights. The ribbons were ordered removed.

The mall has 330 stores and restaurants.[9] The mall is served by two subway stations, Queen and Dundas, at its southernmost and northernmost points, respectively. Queen station is also accessible from the Shuter Street entrance to the mall.

When the Eaton's chain went bankrupt in 1999, many of its corporate assets were acquired by Sears Canada, which included the lease on the department store space at the north end of the mall, giving Sears a prime location in Toronto's downtown core for the first time. Sears Canada briefly ran the department store as part of an upscale "eatons" mini-chain but by 2002 the store had become a Sears store. Sears converted the uppermost four floors to corporate offices and the lowest floor was converted to mall space, but the resultant four-level department store was still Sears' largest in the world at about 817,850 square feet (75,981 m2).[5] Shortly after Sears' acquisition of Eaton's, the Timothy Eaton statue was moved from the Dundas Street entrance to the Royal Ontario Museum.[10]

1990s and early 2000sEdit

As of the early 2000s, the Eaton Centre's owners have redesigned the mall's Yonge Street façade, bringing it closer to the street and making it more closely resemble an urban shopping district, with stores opening directly onto the street, and presenting a variety of façades to create the perception of an urban streetscape.

Further redevelopments, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, added new retail space. The west side of the complex, opposite Albert Street, was expanded. The glass atrium in the northeast corner at the intersection of Yonge and Dundas was redesigned, with a number of former tenants — including a Toronto Police Service office[11] — relocated or evicted, to make way for H&M's Canadian flagship store designed by Queen's Quay Architects International Inc.

In 2006, a new wing of the Eaton Centre was opened, containing several stores, a parking garage, and Ryerson University's Faculty of Business.

One of the mall's two parking garages, the nine-storey Dundas Parkade on Dundas Street with its two spiral stack ramps and the multiplex cinema below it, was demolished in 2003.[12] In the place of the garage and of a vacant development site on the southeast corner of Dundas and Bay streets, a new wing of the Eaton Centre was opened in 2006, containing Canadian Tire and Best Buy, with Ryerson University's Faculty of Business and a new parking garage with 574 spaces[13] on the upper levels. This work was done by Queen's Quay Architects International Inc. with Zeidler Partnership Architects.

The retail complex occupies about 1,722,000 square feet (160,000 m2), making it the second largest mall in Ontario (after Square One Shopping Centre in Mississauga and ahead of Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto's north end).[14]

2010 revitalization projectEdit

On June 18, 2010, Cadillac Fairview announced a two-year, $120 million renovation and revitalization plan for the mall. Upgrades include new flooring throughout, the redevelopment of the centre's two existing food courts, upgrades and expansions to washroom facilities, lighting improvements, new railings, new entry doors, and green initiatives.[15]

In June 2010, a would-be shopper was filmed shouting at the locked doors of an entrance to the Eaton Centre, which was in the process of entering lockdown as the G20 Summit street protests loomed nearby.[16] The video quickly became an Internet meme, but was removed by the original poster shortly thereafter. However, the video has been re-uploaded hundreds of times by other users.

Renovations, begun in 2010, helped attract new retailers to the mall.[17]

Since 2010Edit

The redesigned skybridge between the Eaton Centre to the Hudson's Bay Company's Queen Street location. The bridge was redesigned in 2017.

Urban EateryEdit

As part of a $120 million renovation, the Eaton Centre replaced the aging food courts at each end of the mall with one larger new food court in the north, which opened in September 2011, and a relocated and expanded Richtree Market restaurant at the south end, which opened on September 9, 2013.[17]

The new north food court, the Urban Eatery, features typical food court outlets, outlets of smaller Toronto-based chains, and international-style cuisine. There are 900 seats spread over more than 45,000 sq ft (4,200 m2), and 24 outlets within the Eatery.[18] Some of the more notable restaurants include KFC, McDonald's, Sbarro, Subway, and Tim Hortons.

Disposable packaging has been mostly replaced with cutlery and plastic cups and dishes; the area began with over 100,000 dishes and 20,000 cups.[17][18] There are no garbage or recycling receptacles in the Urban Eatery; patrons bring their food trays to staffed collection stations, where items are sorted.[18] A pulping machine makes 90% of the mall's food waste pulpable, and a solid waste compactor reduces the content of 50 bags of garbage into no more than two bags of pulp.[18]

Sporting goods retailer Sport Chek is the only non-food retailer located in the Urban Eatery.

2012 shootingEdit

Police tape sectioning off the entrance to the Eaton Centre following a shooting incident in 2012.

On June 2, 2012, a shooting took place in the Urban Eatery food court while the mall was heavily crowded with shoppers. Seven people were shot: one of them, 24-year-old Ahmed Hassan, died at the scene while another, 22-year-old Nixon Nirmalendran, died at a hospital on June 11. According to Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, Hassan and Nirmalendran may have had gang affiliations and both were specifically targeted. Others were injured in the panic as people fled the area, including a 28-year-old pregnant woman who began undergoing labour but did not give birth.[19][20][21]

Two days after the shooting, 23-year-old Christopher Husbands turned himself in to authorities and was charged with second-degree murder. He was also found guilty of five counts of aggravated assault, one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and one count of reckless discharge of a firearm.[22] At the time of the shooting, he was under house arrest. Two months prior to the shooting, he had survived an attack in which he was stabbed more than twenty times by six gang rivals.[23] Jessica Ghawi, an American tourist who had left the food court minutes prior to the shooting, was killed seven weeks later in a mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado.[24] In April 2015, Husbands was sentenced to 30 years-to-life imprisonment.[25]

Husbands was granted a new trial in July 2017 as the Ontario Court of Appeal stated the judge had made a mistake in their decision to deny "rotating triers" in selecting the jury.[26] Originally convicted of second-degree murder, Husbands is now claiming he had no control over his body when he fired those shots. His lawyer stated, "He experienced auditory and visual hallucinations. He has no memory of the events that followed inside the food court."[27] They are making the case that his actions were a result of posttraumatic stress disorder from growing up in an unstable home in addition to being stabbed 20 times earlier that year, and therefore should not be held criminally responsible for the casualties and assaults.[28]

In late November 2019, Husbands was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter; he had already been declared guilty of five counts of aggravated assault and one count of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and reckless discharge of a firearm. On the manslaughter convictions, Husbands was sentenced to life in prison.[29]

Sears closure to presentEdit

It was announced on October 29, 2013, that Sears Canada would close its flagship location at the mall. On January 15, 2014, Nordstrom announced that it will be taking over some of the space vacated by Sears.[30] The former lower level of Sears (part of Level 2 of the mall) was replaced with various retailers, which opened in fall 2015, while a three-floor Nordstrom opened in fall 2016 alongside Uniqlo, an expanded H&M and a Samsung Store.

In addition, in January 2014, Cadillac Fairview announced that it would take over ownership and marketing of the Hudson's Bay location across Queen Street.[4] The Hudson's Bay store, which was already connected to the Eaton Centre via a pedestrian walkway (which was rebuilt in 2017) but was not part of the mall, was renovated to share space with Saks Fifth Avenue, also owned by Hudson's Bay.[4] Free Wi-Fi became available throughout the Eaton Centre in late 2014. Before then, free Wi-Fi was only available in larger restaurants, Indigo Books and Music, and the Apple Store. The Eaton Centre's free Wi-Fi requires a Facebook account, a Twitter account, or an e-mail address to access.

A small part of the northern end of Toronto Eaton Centre was set aside for the official 2015 Pan American Games pop-up shop during June and July 2015, and during the 2015 Parapan American Games in August.

Nordstrom, Uniqlo and Samsung have their own stores on the northern end of the mall since the mid-2010s.

In 2017, the pedestrian bridge over Queen Street linking the Eaton Centre and the Hudson's Bay store was rebuilt and was slightly rotated clockwise as well.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Canadian Shopping Centre Study" (PDF). Retail Council of Canada. December 2016. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Cadillac Fairview to rename Eaton Centre, other Canadian shopping centres". Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "City of Toronto, Attractions". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c "Eaton Centre to expand for Saks Fifth Avenue flagship and include the Bay". Toronto Star, January 27, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Sears Canada to Relocate Head Office". Sears Canada. Retrieved October 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Slaughter, Graham (January 17, 2014). "Toronto Eaton Centre asks shoppers to use its "true name"". Toronto Star. Retrieved February 12, 2017.
  7. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application number 0539762". Canadian Trade-marks Database. Canadian Intellectual Property Office. Retrieved January 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "CISC-ICCA :: Toronto Eaton Centre". July 24, 2011. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  9. ^ "Address and Location Map I Toronto Eaton Centre". Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  10. ^ "Famed Timothy Eaton Statue moves to its new home—at the Royal Ontario Museum" (Press release). Royal Ontario Museum. November 4, 1999.
  11. ^ "The Eaton Centre turns 35 years old". BlogTO.
  12. ^ "Urban Exploration Resource: Display Location". June 23, 2002. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  13. ^ "TEC Perspectives" (PDF). October 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2008. Retrieved July 20, 2012.
  14. ^ "Toronto Eaton Centre". MallDatabase. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
  15. ^ "The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited - Toronto Eaton Centre to undergo $120 million revitalization". Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved June 3, 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  16. ^ Abe, Fraser (June 29, 2010). "Shopper freaks out as Eaton Centre closes during G20 protests | Summit Survivor |". Archived from the original on July 5, 2010. Retrieved June 3, 2014.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  17. ^ a b c Friday, Terrine (June 18, 2010). "New Eaton Centre food court will provide 'urban dining experience'". National Post. Toronto, ON. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  18. ^ a b c d Urback, Robyn (August 25, 2011). "Urban Eatery". blogTO. Toronto ON. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  19. ^ Toronto Eaton Centre shooting kills 1, injures 7, CBC, June 2, 2012.
  20. ^ Man was targeted in deadly Eaton Centre shooting, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, June 3, 2012.
  21. ^ Shooting at Toronto mall leaves one dead, seven injured, New York Post, June 2, 2012.
  22. ^ Eaton Centre shooting: Christopher Husbands guilty of 2nd-degree murder, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, December 17, 2014.
  23. ^ Pagliaro, Jennifer; Taylor, Lesley Eaton Centre shooting: Gangs 'changed everything,' says suspects father, Toronto Star, June 4, 2012.
  24. ^ Dark Knight Rises Shooting Victim Jessica Ghawi Remembered for Enthusiasm, Sense of Humor, People, July 20, 2012.
  25. ^ Eaton Centre shooter Christopher Husbands sentenced to 30 years without parole, Toronto Star, April 16, 2015.
  26. ^ "Man found guilty in Eaton Centre shooting gets new trial after conviction overturned | CBC News". CBC. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  27. ^ "Eaton Centre shooter wanted "street justice" for being stabbed: Crown". Global News. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  28. ^ "Trauma from gang ambush influenced Eaton Centre shooter: Defence". Toronto Sun. October 30, 2018. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  29. ^ "Eaton Centre shooter Christopher Husbands sentenced to life in prison". Hamilton Spectator. November 29, 2019. Retrieved November 30, 2019.
  30. ^ "Nordstrom to replace Sears at Eaton Centre". Toronto Star, January 15, 2014.

External linksEdit