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Fashion & Style

Toronto malls in need of makeovers: Agincourt Mall

Posted by Robyn Urback / May 9, 2011

Agincourt Mall Toronto MakeoverInanimate sources of sadness can be found all over this great city. From dripping subway platforms to abandoned playgrounds sprawled with "boobz" graffiti, Toronto's gloom can certainly take structural form. But there's a special type of melancholy reserved for one type of sorrow sight. Of course, I'm talking about Toronto's most dismal malls. Last painted with '80s pastels and brimming with knock off sneakers and Fido stores, these malls somehow persist, remaining virtually unchanged throughout the decades.

We polled our Twitter followers to find out which malls they thought were most in need of makeovers, and, starting today, I will embark on a two week voyage across the city, visiting each mall and reporting my findings. I make no promises, however, in terms of visiting bathrooms, or trying on backless stretchy clubwear.

Up first is Agincourt Mall at Kennedy and Sheppard, which brands itself as "Just a step away from home," but for some, it seems, it's a home away from home.

Agincourt Mall WalmartEvery mall has its fair share of loiterers, of course, but Agincourt appeared to have an exceptional collection of regulars on the afternoon I paid it a visit. And I quickly found out why.

"Oh, that's a beautiful lamp," creaked a voice behind me, as I examined a beaded trilight table lamp at a store called Harshi Furniture. "It was the first thing I bought here."

Agincourt MallI spun around to find a Tim Hortons-drinking older lady behind me, half my height and twice as close to my face as she needed to be. And whether I wanted to or not, I was about to hear her life story.

"You know," she began. "I came here from Quebec, I moved into the seniors' residence just down the street."

Aha, I thought. That explains the grey-haired contingent snoozing in the benches by the entrance.

Agincourt Mall"So I didn't have any furniture. And I came here and the owner is just so nice, and he has such beautiful things. And I bought so many items, and he delivered all of it! You know, that lamp--when it's on in the dark, lights up the ceiling and it looks like a pheasant!"

The lady was incredibly sweet, and it was hard not to smile despite having to endure a few minutes of pheasant-lamp talk.

"I'm here every day, checking things out. I just have no more room!"

Harashi is just one of the seemingly anonymous gems at Agincourt. It's filled with somewhat tacky furniture, including a burlesque lamp made of fishnet legs and a corset shade ($195), but I'd wager that the same type furniture would be eaten up as some sort of postmodern/vintage/retro treasure if sold on Queen West.

Agincourt MallThere's a new arrival called L&W Lingerie, which, for some reason, had all of its XXXL panties (3/$10) displayed on the table by the entrance. The smaller sizes, it seemed, were closer to the back. Take that, media manipulation of ideal body size!

I also headed down an ambiguous blue staircase of mystery, which ended up leading me to a lower-level store called "Fair Price." Think dollar store on steroids. There was everything from eight-packs of toothbrushes ($1.29), racks of scrubs ($3.99), luggage, kitchenware, toys, and an extraordinary large collection of spray paint (1.99/can), which patrons seemed to have tested in a collage on the floor by the racks. True to its name, it was all fairly priced.

Agincourt MallWhile Agincourt did have the indisputable signs of mall sadness, including boarded up stores, discount retail, loiterers, and — of course — The Source, I began to see it as sort of a diamond in the rough. There were interesting pieces to be found at Harashi, unique patterns and fabric to be collected from a fabric store (including $0.45 spools of thread), and a bulk food store simply inviting exploration. Dare I say — I'd venture there again; if nothing else, just to bring a little taste of the pheasant world home.

AGINCOURT MALL ROUNDUP

Anchor store: Walmart

Quality of shops: Excellent for big-booty bargain hunters. Poor for chic chicks

Most unique feature: Windowed abandoned office, possibly a voting station or campaign office

Average age of patrons: Let's just say, not sure how many original hips were on the premises

Quality of food court: N/A, though you could buy some eats at No Frills

Need for makeover: Moderate need

Agincourt Mall

Discussion

57 Comments

Mir / May 9, 2011 at 09:13 am
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This place used to look so much worse 20 years ago... it already looks completely made over.
o.k. / May 9, 2011 at 10:05 am
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The Shopping Mall in general needs to go die a quick death. They are past there time, and unless your are a niece type of mall or try to cater to everybody you'll end-up the the eventual spiral of dumpy low end anchor stores to keep you afloat.
Sean / May 9, 2011 at 10:19 am
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Kill it with fire.
V / May 9, 2011 at 11:28 am
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I work for the mall. They do a billion promotional events, and there's always a huge crowd on Saturdays. The Mother's day event was packed. Whether anyone actually bought anything, I don't know. I always wonder how Agincourt survives, it does somehow.
Hmmm / May 9, 2011 at 11:40 am
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Meh, it doesn't look so bad. Just wait until the Honeydale mall near Kipling comes up.
Chinatown Fried Rice / May 9, 2011 at 11:57 am
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Not that bad, Honeydale mall comes up? I say wait until Gerrard Square comes up or what about cloverdale mall, how low can it go I say.
Adonis / May 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm
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Tim Hortons, Wal-Mart, LCBO, Beer Store, and NoFrills...that pretty much covers most of my shopping.
AG / May 9, 2011 at 02:18 pm
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That "Fair Price" store used to be a BiWay back in the day. And the Walmart at Agincourt Mall used to be a Woolco.

As for malls that need a makeover, take the Sheppard bus over to Warden and go north on the 68. At Finch, you'll find glorius Bridlewood Mall. Now that place is a GEM! Happy Shopping!
chooch / May 9, 2011 at 02:23 pm
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i love the snotty, elitist tone of the comments. this is suburbia. not every retail establishment is going to be a cute little shop a la queen east/west. a single-person income might be great for a single person, but this is what happens when reality checks in and that single person has to support a family. no baby carriage and golden retriever waiting outside the cheese shop here.

btw, this mall has a prime rib roast beef sandwich that will put a lot of restaurants to shame.

Sanjay replying to a comment from Chinatown Fried Rice / May 9, 2011 at 02:27 pm
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actually Cloverdale has become a lot nicer in the past 3 years -- no longer a festering dump.

Honeydale will soon be torn down -- it is just a shell now.
Greg / May 9, 2011 at 02:28 pm
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How did the writer get here? There is no subway or streetcar. I'm looking at you Rob Ford!
Steve replying to a comment from chooch / May 9, 2011 at 02:34 pm
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The Galleria at Dupont/Dufferin is horrible too and that's not suburbia. A horrible mall is a horrible mall, no matter where it is.
duffer / May 9, 2011 at 02:48 pm
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please profile the galleria mall next! that place is something special.

Parlais replying to a comment from chooch / May 9, 2011 at 03:04 pm
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Eeek, pull into the nervous breakdown lane!

People havign families when they damn-well know they don't have the financial stability they require to have one has nothing to do with a mall needing a makeover. Maybe go take some classes and upgrade yourself, if you care about your family, as you say. Maybe get two jobs(?) Either way, stop whinign and be a man, pull yourself up and do what needs to be done for your family's sake.
Jmy / May 9, 2011 at 03:07 pm
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Gerrard Square.

Seriously, go profile that one. It will be ... interesting at least.
Parlais replying to a comment from chooch / May 9, 2011 at 03:11 pm
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what would you know about downtown's Roast beef sandiwiches, we're all just a bunch fo elitists here, you don't come here to hang out with us elitists do you? You don't have the money for that, remember?
chooch replying to a comment from Parlais / May 9, 2011 at 03:17 pm
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@Parlais: couldn't sum up your thoughts in one comment, eh?

that's cute.

why so angry, Parlais?
Michael replying to a comment from Steve / May 9, 2011 at 03:19 pm
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You beat me to the Galleria Mall. I moved into the Bloordale area recently and that mall is hideous. P.M. Toronto has to be one of the nastiest bars since alcohol was invented.

Please profile the Galleria Mall in one of your segments.
Chinatown Fried Rice replying to a comment from Sanjay / May 9, 2011 at 03:42 pm
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Ok ok I thought Gerrard Square would win it all but what about shoppers world at vic park and danforth? that's a winner if I dont say so myself
Donna Martin Graduates replying to a comment from chooch / May 9, 2011 at 03:45 pm
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I think the only redeeming factor Agincourt Mall has (apart from the Walmart) is the restaurant with the roast beef sandwiches. It's been so long since I was last there though...maybe it's time for a visit.

Also, I never even realized there wasn't a food court in that mall until it was pointed out in the article above! I guess that one restaurant and the Tim Horton's was enough for me back in the day.
MMMMBLT / May 9, 2011 at 03:47 pm
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As one comment already said, the Fair Price used to be BiWay and before that it was a Bargain Harolds!

Great memories...
BLT
sharney51 / May 9, 2011 at 03:49 pm
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Cedarbrae Mall. Yick. Used to be fabulous when Woolworth's and Simpson's were there, before recent immigration destroyed most of Toronto. Thank goodness there are still a few areas that have remained untouched by recent immigration. Remember when you could read all the store signs because they were in English? I don't remember voting to okay non-English in Ontario, do you? If French and English are the only two official languages, then how do they get away with non-English/non-French signage?
nativescarberian / May 9, 2011 at 03:53 pm
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I used to go to this mall when i was a kid, my parents liked it for some reason. There was a store where proto-nerds could race their slot cars, a pet shop where I got bitten by a monkey, and out the back was Tam O'Shanter pool/curling/hockey rink (before it burned down). There are worse malls, I'm sure. This one sounds functional and un-glamorous, just like most mid-sized malls of a certain vintage in the GTA.
Mooch / May 9, 2011 at 04:03 pm
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The Galleria Mall has to win the worst mall in Toronto award. It's no contest.
Jerome / May 9, 2011 at 04:05 pm
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Don't worry, Mayors Doug and Rob Ford are going to build a phantom subway to save this heap, don't ya know?
V replying to a comment from sharney51 / May 9, 2011 at 04:49 pm
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I don't know if your comment was intentional or not but you sound very racist to me. Immigration destroying Toronto? Are you serious? I think diversity is what makes Toronto and immigration makes the city better, from Chinatown, Little Italy, and Koreatown just to name a few. Where else can you get dim sum and gelato in short distances from each other? If you don't like Toronto and it's diversity move away.
RealityCheck replying to a comment from V / May 9, 2011 at 05:16 pm
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Immigration is great. The problem is that Canada's rate of immigration is WAY too high. Especially given the high unemployment rate. Officially, the unemployment rate for the past 20years has rarely fallen below 6%. The unofficial unemployment rate (which takes into account those who've exhausted EI benefits) is actually much higher. People tend to forget that it was Mulroney (not Trudeau) who brought in our current immigration rate of just under 300K a year... prior to that, it tended to be about 50-60k a year, and if unemployment was high, the immigration rate would be reduced. What Mulroney did was to create an oversupply of labor -- and the result has been that there has been a steady erosion, on average, in wages and working conditions for those who have to work for a living (whether born here, long-time resident or new arrival). Criticizing immigrants may be racist. But criticizing our immigration policy need not be racist, especially when it is being used to benefit employers (by creating an oversupply of labor) and developers (by creating buyers for their units).
John / May 9, 2011 at 06:24 pm
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Given the context of the neighborhood it is in, I would rank Cumberland Terrace as badly needing a makeover. I think it is worse than Gerrard Square because at least G-Square has a few stores worth shopping in (No-Frills & Home Depot). The Cumberland Terrace food court is so outdated it could be used as a movie set for a bad 70's mall.
jonny / May 9, 2011 at 06:32 pm
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honeydale is the worst!! it's probably the only spot that's completely dead on the inside and even more dead on the outside. the only things that are still open there is the no frills and the quasi flea market
Adam Sobolak / May 9, 2011 at 07:22 pm
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One thing nobody's raised is that ultimate hallmark of an unrenovated first-generation ex-Woolco Canadian Wal-Mart: a hyphen in the sign rather than a star. (I think Wal-Mart's early Canadian operators wanted to distance themselves from the star as "too American". They later relented.)
CJ / May 9, 2011 at 08:45 pm
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I was hoping for a more comprehensive review than this. Even a 5-minute walkthrough would givesomeone more info than this article. Can't believe there's no mention of the Asian girls walking around with their trays of tasty pastries, the older grumpy Guy who owns the comic book shop (with a good dozen dollar bins out front) or the restaurant near the back with the delicious egg rolls. Agincourt certainly needs help, but it is a far cry from what I see described as above.
Sharney51 replying to a comment from V / May 9, 2011 at 10:33 pm
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I did.
Kevo replying to a comment from chooch / May 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm
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cooch - I grew up in suburbia (Burlington) and currently go to school in suburbia (Waterloo) and Agincourt is a fairly dumpy mall by my standards. Hamilton's main mall is much, much better than Agincourt, too (probably comparable to Mapleview in Burlington or Conestoga in Waterloo).
fattest / May 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm
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Is Malvern Town Centre on the list? Its anchor stores include No Frills, Labels, and KFC.
V replying to a comment from RealityCheck / May 10, 2011 at 12:16 am
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Blaming unemployment on immigration is a misdirection. You should blame the Conservative government's policies that Mulroney put in. It's neo-liberal restructuring that causes unemployment, they want it that way so that it would drive capitalism and a free market. The people who work would obviously work for anything if they know there's other people who are unemployed and the people in charge don't care because they know the workers are replaceable; there's tons of unemployed people looking for work. So, it's not the immigrants' fault it's the policy maker's. Like you said it impacts people who are "born here, long-time resident or new arrival". It's not just the immigration policy, it's the economic policy as a whole. People want cheap labour so they hire immigrants, I mean who else is going to drive taxis, wash dishes etc? Who else is going to work for nearly nothing?
V replying to a comment from Sharney51 / May 10, 2011 at 12:19 am
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It's good to know racism exists in Toronto. Keeps the city grounded from hooting out how multicultural we are all the time.
Joe / May 10, 2011 at 10:20 am
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I don't think this article ever mentions where the Agincourt Mall is.
Rob Ford replying to a comment from Joe / May 10, 2011 at 10:25 am
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"Up first is Agincourt Mall at Kennedy and Sheppard, which brands itself as "Just a step away from home," but for some, it seems, it's a home away from home."

Yes it does.
realityCheck / May 10, 2011 at 04:12 pm
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V, I'm not blaming unemployment on immigration... But I am underlining that immigration is being used to maintain a large surplus pool of unemployed labor which serves to drive wages down. Also, I never said it was the "immigrants' fault". As I stressed the issue is our immigration policy, not the immigrants arriving, who on the whole are better educated than those who were coming over 60 years ago (my parents included). You say the problem is our economic policy as a whole. I say, that the immigration policy is a crucial component in the deterioration of wages and working conditions that we have seen in Canada over the past 20 years. What has happened could not have happened without a high unemployment rate, which has been bolstered by the high immigration rate (brought to you by Mulroney) and more recently the temporary worker program (greatly expanded by Harper). You say that "people want cheap labour"... I would amend that to say that EMPLOYERS want cheap labour. The question that needs to be asked is WHY our immigration policy needs to be structured to benefit the needs of employers that want cheap labour? Yes, there are a number of problems with Canada's current economic policy... But the quickest way to redressing the balance in favour of working people would be: a) reducing our immigration numbers, particularly during periods of economic slowdown, and; b) restricting the temporary worker program for bonafide labour shortages rather than how it is being currently being used, to bring in workers willing to work at wages employers want to pay (eg. skilled carpenters at $12/hour).
Fantomex replying to a comment from Greg / May 10, 2011 at 09:06 pm
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There is a bus (are buses), though, or did you not notice that with your nose stuck in the air?

@chooch: love what you said.

@realityCheck: Love what you said too.
Chris Lea / May 10, 2011 at 09:17 pm
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I remember Agincourt Mall when it was new and it seemed great, now we had a mall too. Agincourt was growing, on the move, growth is good, that was a gospel even a kid would know. The beautiful Tam-O-Shanter clubhouse faced the back of the far corner of Woolco, and that was too bad, that could have been good, but Woolco was progress and we were better for it. The Agincourt Mall was never very fancy and it is interesting to read how it has diversified its offerings over 40 years. I would have preferred to see more images of the interior.

Even today the growth gospel demands increasing the size of the labour force, which could have positive effect if the ever more complex needs and skill set of the labour force increases the diversification of our economy, making it more resistant to recession. To keep our labour force size at the same level as now, we must attract immigrants, as Canadians are not replacing themselves at levels that will keep our population constant. But in my 52 year lifetime Canada has about doubled in population. Growth seems good. That's what we know. V and RealityCheck, you're both right. But do we really need to double our population again? I think not.
realityCheck / May 11, 2011 at 08:03 pm
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Chris Lea, high immigration has been good ...for cheap labour employers and for developers and for bottom end retailers. But the statistics do not back up the claim that the benefit has accrued to average working people. As for why the Canadian birth rate has fallen so drastically, well, one of the key reasons has to do with the growing instability in the job market over the past few decades, which of course has come about to a great extent by our chronic (I'd say "planned") high unemployment rate. Once again, my comments are directed against our immigration policy...not immigrants.
gadfly / May 11, 2011 at 08:59 pm
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LMAO - an innocent article that comments on the (obvious) decline of various malls that degenerates into a mudslinging fest. No surprises.
The trouble is, you have to be over 30 and have lived in this city for at least that long to see the decay. My family grew up in the Albion Rd./Islington area. That area is a cesspool today, rife with crime. But, hey - what do I know?
Town and Country Mall (now Centerpoint - yech!). Theatre - closed. Woolco - closed. The food court is ramshackle and full of, well, I'd better not say it! 35 years ago, that was a nice mall in a nice area. Not any more.
I'd add Scarborough Town Center to the list. My partner and I were there about 3 years ago for the last time. Another cesspool in waiting.
But we'd better not actually discuss the reasons WHY these malls are desintegrating. Easier to blame our autobile-centrist/lack of bicycle lane/socio-economic bullcrap argument du jour. That is far more acceptable.
Stephanie replying to a comment from gadfly / May 12, 2011 at 07:37 pm
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Actually, Scarborough Town Centre just recently got a makeover. It's different from three years ago, and it really isn't THAT bad. Looks a lot better, that's for sure.
Fantomex replying to a comment from gadfly / May 13, 2011 at 07:49 am
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More racist bullshit from a racist bumfuck of a man with nothing between his legs or in his head.
iSkyscraper / May 13, 2011 at 12:10 pm
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Do all BlogTO posts end in immmigration recriminations? Let's stick to the aesthetics, people.

As far as the easy makeover categories go -- signage, furnishings, exterior entries -- this mall looks to be in pretty good shape. Many US urban areas would kill for this kind of perfectly functional blue-collar mall in their midst. The floor tile is a bit dated, but still workable.

Even the tenant list is hardly makeover-worthy -- I mean, they have a WalMart and a few national brand chain stores. (In the US this WalMart would have been abandoned long ago for a Super WalMart down the road.)
Marc / May 15, 2011 at 10:51 pm
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People like V are the real discriminatory ones, because they are in denial. It's not about race, but it's about immigration. People like V are the ones who are selfish and have this programmed/brainwashed way of just whipping out the race factor. THAT is racism, and discrimination to their own people. You don't have to be anglo-saxon (I'm not!) to say things about the over-immigration and ruining of neighbourhoods, which can clearly be seen in many formerly decent areas in places in Toronto/GTA. The best and real citizen is the one who actually SEES the problems and wants better, as they are looking out for their city and country, and future generations. In issues and problems such as immigration, there is no room for being in denial and for being politically correct.
brice replying to a comment from RealityCheck / May 18, 2011 at 03:08 pm
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hey bro,

i think the racist part is that it is not a criticism of immigration but a criticism of immigrants and their "languages"
Fred / November 25, 2011 at 12:07 am
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i remember when agincourt mall had
Kennedy s restaurant
National trust
A&A records
Danforth Radio
Billiards down stairs
Woman's bakery
Woolco
Morse jewellers
Alga Travel
Pharma Plus
Agincourt library
Toronto Dominion Bank
in the middle of the mall not only was the famous restaurant with roast beef there was a fountain there it was removed
Pro hardware was there
Sunfresh fruit market
Radio shack
United cigar store
Kinney shoes
John pomer mens clothing
Reatmans
Loblaws
Sidbury men s clothes
Laura Secord
and all the signs in the mall were back lit fluorescent it was a hot mall when Kennedy restaurant sold out and Chinese took over and ran it into the ground.

The management forced the restaurant in the mall to close there was one cook that always called the young kids Sunshine

It had a little of every bodys needs but 90s killed it
I have not lived up there since 1993
The original sign that was on Sheppard Ave triangle used to turn
My mom would be hungry at Dinner and id say lets walk to the middle of the mall restaurant

what great memories


Mikey P replying to a comment from chooch / October 11, 2012 at 06:10 am
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Yup, Orchid Garden is a hidden gem. Awesome food man, good call.
Danielle / April 26, 2013 at 05:40 am
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First of all I want to say awesome blog! I had a quick question which I'd like to ask if you don't mind.
I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
I've had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out. I do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!
Mandyduo / August 2, 2013 at 07:39 am
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mary replying to a comment from chooch / August 27, 2013 at 05:11 pm
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Wonder why the restaurant right smack in the centre of Agincourt Mall wasn't mentioned.

Best standing rib roast on a Kaiser in town.
mary replying to a comment from chooch / August 27, 2013 at 05:17 pm
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I still go and shop there, done so for 45 years. I'm old, others are older than me, they don't shop, old people killed the mall off, slowly but surely. Older folks don't spend money. They either horde it for a rainy day or simply have non to spend.
Try the standing rib roast on a Kaiser with the horseradish, it's delicious. The roast comes rare or med. rare or well done if you don't mind the endpiece.
Don't forget to have your shoes resoled by the Italian shoemaker who's been there for 50 years. The old shoemaker has tons of stories to tell.
Fred replying to a comment from Fred / November 30, 2013 at 08:22 pm
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I agree with your comment it was a great place, In Woolco you could spend hours in there thoses roatbeaf sandwiches they were great and Kennedy restaurant was great i used to live behind the mall 10 Carabob court 1614, Before A&As the record store was called flip side they ruin the mall outside when they distroyed the brick work remember the arches painted in white the only thing left is the stone work at wall mart and the parking lot lights and i remember the isles in the front parking lot went the other direction and they had little lights at the roadway Swedish balls lite up, The Chinese moved in and ruined it Agincourt was a great area now its dead, The front of the mall is an eye sore , oh Woolco also had spot light that lite up the stone work at the front of the store those were the best days and the fountain should have remained
Jim replying to a comment from o.k. / March 17, 2014 at 04:11 pm
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I actually prefer smaller malls to bigger, annoying malls like Sherway Gardens and Square One because they are too big for my liking.
Doug Taylor replying to a comment from chooch / October 30, 2014 at 07:24 pm
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You took the words out of my mouth. This is the type of bigotry that is often found exhibited by the same people who are the first to complain about any other type of real and/or perceived bigotry. What a world!

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