When you shop at Hudson’s Bay, you’re part of Canadian heritage. This department store chain, commonly referred to as “The Bay,” is the oldest company in North America. Its illustrious history stretches as far back as 1670, during a time of exploration into the vast wilderness surrounding Hudson Bay. European settlers arrived, building forts and trading posts to forge relationships with the country’s early inhabitants—and the Hudson’s Bay Company (the parent company of Hudson’s Bay) was born. Today, Hudson’s Bay is Canada’s most prominent retail store, boasting 90 locations across the country.
You don’t need to sport a beaver-pelt hat or carry bartered goods to be an explorer yourself. For the full Hudson’s Bay experience, head to its flagship location downtown at the corner of Queen and Yonge Streets. It’s not just a one-stop shopping destination; it’s an architectural gem. Pause amid the shoppers and local residents buzzing about the intersection and take a good look the multi-storey, 19th-century sandstone building. The Romanesque Revival facade is impressive, but so are the large, glossy window displays with the latest fashion trends. Depending on the season, you might see sparkling jewellery, chic suits, or casual blouses presented in colourful, imaginative scenes.
From the street, step into the bright and tidy building full of high ceilings, wood beams, white columns, and clean design. It’s time for some retail therapy against the backdrop of easy-listening tunes (if you need guidance, the store even offers a complimentary personal shopping service by appointment). Sample the perfumes and colognes before browsing the selection of women’s footwear, which includes everything from Nine West stilettos to shiny, red Hunter rain boots. If you’re an aficionado of the world’s top designers, the upscale Burberry and Coach shops will entice your refined tastes. So too will the fashion brands for both men and women on the upper six floors: Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Marc Jacobs, to name a few. When you reach the seventh floor, pick up a set of wine glasses for tomorrow’s dinner party, or a tiny blue onesie for the latest addition to your best friend’s family.
When your feet need a rest and your stomach is growling, head down to the concourse level where the irresistible aroma of poutine and grilled salmon tacos lures you into the airy 5,000-square-foot Foodwares Market. The bustling casual dining area, decorated with wood and weathered stone, presents delectable options for every taste. You snag a seat at one of the long wooden tables before digging into a juicy sandwich overflowing with flavourful pulled pork.
Down the aisle, find the Hudson’s Bay Collection: an eye-catching display of merchandise with the company’s signature bold stripes in red, yellow, green, and blue. Times have changed since the days of the fur trade, but the company keeps its storied past alive with its iconic colours on items from umbrellas to coats. Brush your hand against the thick wool of the famous striped Point Blanket and touch history—it’s crafted with the same care and attention to detail as it was in 1780 when the company introduced it as a trade good. Who would have guessed a modern department store could take you on such a journey?