Howard and Sydney Avenues
Windsor, Ontario

Plans for the first interior mall in Canada's southernmost city were announced in June 1968. A 65 acre parcel, located 3 miles southeast of Windsor's Central Business District, and 4 miles southeast of Downtown Detroit, was developed as DEVONSHIRE MALL. The Devonshire Racetrack, an equestrian sporting venue, had occupied the property between 1916 and 1939.

The mall project was spearheaded by 3 executives from Toronto's Cambridge Leaseholds, Limited, an operative of Cambridge Shopping Centres, Limited. Financing was provided by Newark, New Jersey-based Prudential Insurance. The Toronto-based firm of Petroff & Jeruzalski designed the single-level shopping complex.

At its grand opening, held August 12, 1970, DEVONSHIRE MALL encompassed approximately 497,200 leasable square feet and housed 70 stores and services. The original anchors were a 1-level (62,000 square foot), Montreal-based Miracle Mart discount department store and 1-level (20,000 square foot) Miracle Food Mart. A 3-level (205,000 square foot) Simpsons-Sears opened for business September 2, 1970.

Original inline stores included Fairweather Ladies' Fashions, Steak 'N Burger dining lounge & restaurant, Shoppers Drug Mart, Montreal Draperies, Sneaky Pete's Burgers, Tip Top Tailors, Kinney Shoes, Coles Books, Singer Sewing Centre and Aikenhead's Hardware. The twin-screen Famous Players Devonshire Mall Cinemas 1 & 2 showed its first features August 12, 1970.

The dedication of the 15 million dollar mall was officiated by Frank Wansbrough, Mayor of Windsor. Stella Jamrog, "Miss Windsor 1970", was also present. Entertainment was provided by John Ganley, a well-known Irish bagpipe player.

The only competitors during the early years were TECUMSEH ["tee-cum-see"] MALL {4.2 miles northeast, in Windsor}. This complex, an expansion of an existing KMART PLAZA, was dedicated in 1973. There was also a small, enclosed retail hub known as UNIVERSITY MALL (1973) {2.8 miles northwest, also in Windsor}.

An expansion of DEVONSHIRE MALL was first announced in November 1972. It was to add 250,000 leasable square feet, and 17 stores, in an eastward addition. The 13 million dollar project would be anchored by a 3-level (90,000 square foot) Smith's of Windsor department store and 3-level (175,000 square foot), Toronto-based Simpsons.

In August 1973, the Simpsons-Sears at DEVONSHIRE MALL was rebranded as a standard Sears operation. In April 1974, progress on the ongoing East Wing expansion was delayed by a tornado which damaged the existing shopping complex and its construction zone. 

Nonetheless, the addition was officially dedicated September 11, 1974, with business commencing at the Smith's location in October of the same year. The retail hub now spanned 747,200 leasable square feet and housed 87 stores and services.

The mall's second anchor store rebranding transpired in November 1975. Brit-based Marks & Spencer took over the Smith's of Windsor location. This operation was downsized in March 1977, when 45,000 square feet were sectioned into a Leon's Furniture store. The remaining Marks & Spencer operation eventually moved to another location in the mall and closed in the 1990s.

Ground was broken for a second enlargement of DEVONSHIRE MALL in September 1984. This time around, 53,000 square feet would be added in a wing of 49 stores and services. The existing mall would also be given a face lift. The new mallway would connect with an entrance into the circa-1974 expansion and circle around to a junction with the original mall's South (Miracle Mart) Court. 

A grand opening celebration got underway September 18, 1985. The highlight of the 10 million dollar project was the 11-bay Picnic Garden Food Court. Some of its vendors were Mr. Submarine, Kentucky Fried Chicken, A & W Root Beer, Mrs. Vanelli's Pizza, New York Fries and Orange Julius. New stores included Happy Hour Card 'N Party Shop, Active World, National Sports Centre, Japan Camera Centre and Micro Cooking Centre.

More tenant modifications were done in the mid-1980s. The twin cinema became a triplex in 1985 and Simpsons was rebranded as The Bay on August 1, 1986. Miracle Mart was shuttered either by this time or soon after, with its space being sectioned into inline stores. 

Miracle Food Mart continued under its original nameplate until it became an operative of A & P Canada in 1989. The grocery would shut down completely in September 1995, with a (24,200 square foot) Chapters book store taking its place.

A new commercial competitor came on the scene in 1999. WINDSOR CROSSING {2.2 miles south, in Windsor} was an open-air, power-format complex.

Toronto-based Ivanhoe, Incorporated had begun buying Cambridge Shopping Centres, Limited stock in 1998. By August 1999, they were the major shareholder. In February 2001, the companies were merged into an entity known as Ivanhoe Cambridge.

Meanwhile, a 1-level (121,200 square foot) Zellers discount store had been added to the south end of DEVONSHIRE MALL in 1994. It was followed by a 25 million dollar expansion. This got underway in August 1999 and added the 12-screen Loews Cineplex Devonshire Mall Cinemas and 15 new stores. The 117,000 square foot addition was completed in September of the year 2000.

In 2002, one of the mall's west side truck courts was repurposed. Adjacent store space was demolished, with the combined area becoming half of a (19,100 square foot) Old Navy. This store was completed in June of 2002.

A subsequent remodeling repurposed the mall's second west side truck court. Adjacent store space was torn out with a (12,600 square foot) Mark's Work Wearhouse and Tony Roma's restaurant built in the area. This project was finished in September 2004. DEVONSHIRE MALL now encompassed approximately 1,084,800 leasable square feet.

Hudson's Bay Company announced a department store name change in March 2013. All "The Bay" locations would be known, henceforth, as Hudson's Bay (Francophone stores would officially become La Baie D'Hudson).

Various stores in the Zellers chain were acquired by Minneapolis-based Target in January 2011. A Mississauga, Ontario-based Canadian division was established, with the first 3 Target Canada stores opening March 5, 2013. The DEVONSHIRE MALL Zellers had closed September 17, 2012. 

The store was renovated, with a new Target welcoming its first customers on March 19, 2013. Alas, the Target Canada endeavor proved to be an unmitigated disaster. The last stores, including the DEVONSHIRE MALL location, were shuttered April 11, 2015.

Meanwhile, the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP) established full ownership of DEVONSHIRE MALL, buying a 50 percent share still owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge. The transaction closed in January 2015.

In August 2016, construction commenced on a 70 million dollar renovation. The project would be completed in 3 phases. During the first, a (40,000 square foot) Metro Grocers supermarket was installed in a section of the vacant Target building. The new store was dedicated August 24, 2017. 

The second stage of the DEVONSHIRE redevelopment relocated the 1985-vintage Picnic Garden food court. A new 15-bay facility was built in space adjacent to the new Metro store. 

The final phase of the remodeling installed new ceilings and flooring in all common areas. Work was finished by mid-2018, with the shopping centre now encompassing approximately 1,085,900 leasable square feet and containing 165 stores spaces.


The Windsor Star
"Devonshire Mall" article on Wikipedia / Mike Rivest