History Restored: Timothy Eaton Gardens

Justin
Justin Crann
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This Saturday, the Moose Jaw Times-Herald concludes its weekly look at the heritage of the Friendly City in the final instalment of its series, History Restored.

Each Saturday, the Times-Herald has offered its readers an inside look at one of the city’s heritage properties and the way it is being put to use for modern purposes.

AT A GLANCE

Built: Early 1928

Architect: Bunyard and Symonds

Footprint: 46,000 square feet

Initial owner: Timothy Eaton’s Company

Initial purpose: Department store

Other owners: Dev Con Inc.

Current owner: Moose Jaw Housing Corporation

Current purpose: Seniors residences, community centre

HISTORY AND RENOVATIONS

The Timothy Eaton’s Centre was constructed in 1928 as one of the company’s first locations in Saskatchewan.

It was designed by the architects Bunyard and Symonds; the former was a prolific architect whose name is attached to many projects in the Friendly City, including Prince Arthur and Westmount Schools and the Grant Hall.

The building was erected on two downtown lots and stands at three storeys. Like many buildings constructed at the time, it was built of brick – adhering to a city bylaw put in place after a major fire ripped through much Moose Jaw’s downtown core toward the end of the 19th Century.

The department store was a major employer in Moose Jaw. Staff photos dated in the early 1930s show almost 100 people employed there.

In 1940, the building underwent renovations that made it “one of the largest retail stores in Moose Jaw at the time,” according to the application made to designate the structure a Municipal Heritage Site in the early 1990s.

Whether due to its size or the merchandise it carried, the Eaton’s Store became a major draw for Moose Javians.

Many long-time residents of the Friendly City have stories to share about the store, and when Eaton’s Company announced the closure of the store in 1986, there was an organized campaign including petitions – with support from then-Mayor Louis “Scoop” Lewry – to prevent the company from moving out.

Its closure would not be prevented, however, and came as the third in a series of blows to Moose Jaw after the Friendly City lost the Hudson’s Bay Wholesale and MacLeods store.

After Eaton’s closed, there was some speculation that the building would be demolished before the Grayson family – who owned the property – sold it to a company named Dev Con Incorporated in 1988.

There was discussion between Dev Con and the city about converting the building into a mall, but the company ultimately gave up on the project due to issues surrounding more than $200,000 in owed back taxes.

The building was eventually designated for senior’s housing space after the council considered several proposals concerning its future.

Housing for seniors is the purpose the building continues to serve today.

The building houses 26 units with common and game areas, a kitchen and various meeting spaces for numerous community groups. It operates under the name Timothy Eaton Gardens, paying tribute to the company that originally constructed it more than 80 years ago.

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Organizations: Times-Herald, Eaton, Prince Arthur and Westmount Schools

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Friendly, Saskatchewan

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