Eaton Centre had more of an influence on modern-day Metrotown than you might think (Metrotown Mall Blog)

Remembering Burnaby’s Eaton Centre

Metrotown used to be three different malls connected by pedestrian-overpasses before it became the mega mall it is today.

By Marco Ovies | August 4, 2022 |5:00 am

It was 1989 when Eaton Centre Burnaby was built by Metrotown and Station Square. Metrotown wasn’t the third-largest mall in Canada at that time and was connected to Eaton Centre and Station Square by walking overpasses. While Eaton Centre was eventually incorporated into Metrotown in a huge construction project in 2005, the remnants of Eaton Centre remain.

@burnabybeacon It’s hard to believe that it’s been a little over 20 years since Eaton Centre #burnaby #burnabybc #burnabybeacon #eatons #eatoncentre #metrotown #metropolis #shopping #nostalgia #burnabyhistory ♬ FEEL THE GROOVE – Queens Road, Fabian Graetz

In 1998, Eaton Centre decided expand and build a destination for young people to shop and hang out. Thanks to Eaton Centre, we have places like SilverCity. Additionally, this is where the Rainforest Cafe was built (until it eventually closed in 2001).

Rainforest cafe
The memories of the Rainforest Cafe still resonate with many who frequented Metrotown between the late ‘90s to early 2000s. / (Metropolis at Metrotown/ Facebook)

Eaton Centre got its name from Eaton’s, a Canadian department store created in 1869 that was the largest of its kind at the time. Think of them as a Walmart crossed with The Bay, with mail-order catalogues that could be found in most homes across Canada. You could buy anything from Eaton’s. From clothes to farming equipment, bicycles, and even food, Eaton’s had it all. The stores were also known for their innovative technology like escalators and air conditioning, which were still considered high-end back then. Eaton’s was the largest store in Canada. That is until 1999 when the chain declared bankruptcy.

Eaton Centre Burnaby
Eaton’s Department Store in Lethbridge from 1970. (Galt Museum & Archives)

It wasn’t till 2005 that Eaton Centre was gone for good in a major mall renovation that combined it with Metrotown. This added a bunch of new stores and also gave way for Metrotown to have the biggest food court in all of Western Canada. And just like that, Metropolis at Metrotown was born.

Now, Metrotown is the largest mall in all of BC with three stories and nearly 330 different stores. It’s weird to think that the Metrotown we know and love is only 17 years old, but it’s interesting to walk through and look at all the great stores we have, all thanks to Eaton Centre.

Marco Ovies

Marco Ovies is Burnaby Beacon's Lifestyle Content Creator focusing on all things food, events, and fun things happening in the city.

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