50 years ago, Square One opened on a grass field in Mississauga


Published October 4, 2023 at 1:21 pm

Square One 1973

The City of Mississauga will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, but one of the largest attractions in the city hit the half-century mark this week.

Square One Shopping Centre, Ontario’s largest mall and the second-largest in all of Canada (largest in 1973), officially opened to the public on Oct. 3, 1973.

The four original anchors of the huge shopping mall, which was built on land to the immediate northwest of Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road, were department stores Woolco, Sears (Simpson-Sears at the time) and The Bay in addition to grocery store Dominion.

In total, the new shopping centre featured 160 stores and it quickly attracted shoppers from across Mississauga and beyond who had previously frequented Dixie Plaza (built in 1956 and now called Dixie Outlet Mall), Westwood Square (built in 1968) and Sheridan Mall (built in 1969).

Those were Mississauga’s main shopping centres until Square One came along in late 1973.

Later on, Meadowvale Town Centre opened in 1978 and Erin Mills Town Centre showed up on the scene in 1989.

Today, Square One, which has undergone a number of renovations/upgrades over the decades, offers more than 360 stores and services to its customers.

On average, Mississauga’s major mall serves some 24 million shoppers annually.

Initially one of only several large structures in that section of town to the northwest of Hurontario Street and Burnhamthorpe Road, Square One today sits in the shadows of City Hall, the Living Arts Centre, the Central Library and numerous high-rise office towers and condos that together give Mississauga an impressive and well-defined skyline.

Since it opened, Square One has been a destination place for numerous Mississauga residents, and not only shoppers. Many people speak fondly of visiting the original movie theatres on the lower level of the mall in addition to the old-school arcade located right next door.

Take a trip back in time to the late 1970s/early 1980s and you’d find a good number of Mississauga pre-teens and teens hanging out at the arcade in the heart of the city.

Whether dropped off by their parents or arriving by an old Mississauga Transit bus or cycling, or even walking if they lived close enough, crowds of kids descended on Square One Shopping Centre to hang out at the arcade.

And the ever-evolving food court has drawn scores of people throughout the decades as well to enjoy a wide variety of culinary experiences.

Below you’ll find a series of images of Square One when it was first built back in 1973.

Undeveloped land where the City Centre and Square One now stand with a sign announcing the new development in 1968.

A promotional newsletter showing the early construction of City Centre and Square One. Note the caption under the image that states “weather-controlled spacious shopping mall”. Air conditioning was a newer attraction at that time.

The front entrance of Square One (still under construction) and the three office buildings in the City Centre, looking north (1972).

Square One nears completion (Looking southeast in 1973).

Aerial view of Square One nearing completion (looking south) and the other four office structures occupying the City Centre at the time. Note the open-air court in the centre that had an ice rink in the winter and a place to eat in the summer (1973).

The front entrance to Square One nearing completion (1973).

Another aerial view of Square One nearing completion (looking south) and the other four office buildings occupying the City Centre at the time (1973).

The opening ceremonies on Oct. 3, 1973.

One of the walkways at Square One in 1973. Notice the ashtrays mounted on the garbage bins.

Front entrance to Square One (1973).

City Centre aerial view (1973).

Photography courtesy of Ron Duquette

The 1974 Square One Mall Directory

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