Airy, high ceilings. Store shapes and frontages that smashed the standard box shape.
As grocery stores evolved from small neighbourhood branches into large supermarkets in the 1950s, new trends in architecture were seized upon to draw in consumers with the promise of a shining, ultra-convenient future. The unveiling of the design for the city’s new City Hall in late 1958 gave Dominion a prime opportunity to unveil sketches of new styles of supermarkets as the company hit its 40th anniversary.
As for Dominion’s future, it remained a coast-to-coast presence among Canadian shoppers until parent company Argus Corporation, under the watchful eye of Conrad Black, broke the chain apart in the 1980s. The Ontario remnants went to A&P Canada, Newfoundland’s eventually wound up with Loblaws, the rest to various parties. Black’s public comments about Dominion were made in his typical low-key manner—during a pension dispute with its employees, Black noted that “it’s sometimes difficult for me to work myself into an absolute lacrimose fit about a work force that steals on that scale…We are not running a welfare agency for corrupt union leaders and a slovenly work force.”
Of the store designs shown here, some never made it off the drawing board, while others were modified before becoming reality. Take a look at older Dominion branches (or those converted to Food Basics or other A&P Canada monikers) around the GTA and see if you find traces of these space age sketches.
Source: Toronto ’59: One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Anniversary