Last Updated on 21 May 2023
Canada’s largest city has been served by most major Canadian chains over the years, including Loblaw’s, Steinberg’s/Miracle Mart, Dominion, A&P, Safeway, IGA, and others. This section is a work in progress.
In This Section:
A Brief Timeline:
- 1912: Theodore Pringle Loblaw has three stores in Toronto. The first apparently opened at 228 Queen Street East and 406 Queen Street West sometime around 1910-1911.
- 1919: Robert Jackson and William J. Pentland open the first Dominion store at 174 Wallace Avenue in Toronto; 61 more stores open in the first year.
- 1919:T.P. Loblaw and J. Milton Cork open the first self-service Loblaw groceterias, starting with a location at 2923 Dundas Street West. Loblaw has a total of 23 stores in Toronto in 1920; four of the oldest are sold to Dominion Stores shortly afterward.
- 1927: A&P Canada opens its first stores.
- 1933: The first Power store opens at 2055 Danforth (at Coxwell). The chain is purchased by Loblaws that same year but retains its separate identity until the 1970s, becoming Power Super Markets in time.
- 1953: Grand Union purchases Carroll’s, a chain based in Hamilton, and enters the Southern Ontario market.
- 1959: Grand Union sells its thirty-eight Canadian stores to Steinberg’s.
- 1961: Food City opens its first discount supermarket on Lawrence Avenue East, adjacent to corporate sibling Towers Department Store. The two chains are owned by the Oshawa Group. Around the same time, Loblaws launches its “Busy B (Busy Bee)” discount chain, mostly in former Loblaws locations.
- 1964: Oshawa Group purchases Bassin’s and converts the stores to IGA units with mixed success.
- 1969: All Steinberg’s Toronto locations now operate under the Miracle Food Mart name.
- Early 1970s: Struggling Loblaws rebuilds its brand by closing smaller and older stores, dramatically remodeling the ones it keeps, and focusing on price and distribution. The Power Super Markets brand is eliminated, and many of the older stores are converted to sister chain Tamblyn Drugs or offloaded to franchisees as Loblaw-supplied Red & White stores.
- 1970s: Safeway enters the Southern Ontario market.
- 1975: Knob Hill Farms, which has operated small stores in Toronto for years, opens its first giant “food terminal” in the city (the third in the chain) at 222 Landsdowne Avenue.
- 1978-1979: Price-impact “box store” chains with limited assortments and amenities enter the market, led by Loblaws (No Frills), Dominion (Thrift), and Sobeys (Valdi). The No Frills and Thrift stores are primarily repurposed traditional stores now operated as franchises. The franchising system also releases these stores from expensive union contracts.
- Early 1980s: Dominion Stores sells off older stores to Dominion-supplied franchisees operating as Mr Grocer. Again, these franschisees operate under a much lower-cost framework without the old union contracts.
- 1985: A&P Canada purchases most of the remaining Dominion Stores locations.
- 1985: Oshawa Group purchases Safeway’s Southern Ontario locations, rebranding most as IGA and later as Price Chopper.
- 1987: Loblaws purchases the Mr Grocer franchise operation, which keeps the name for several years until most stores are rebranded as No Frills or ValuMart. The Broadview store is rebranded as Loblaws by 1990.
- 1989: A&P Canada buys Steinberg’s Miracle Food Mart and Ultra stores.
- Mid 1990s: Oshawa Group converts its Food City to IGA franchises.
- 1995-1996: A&P launches the Food Basics discount brand in Ontario. A&P also streamlines its transitional branding, dropping Miracle Food Mart and Ultra, and using only Dominion (Toronto), Superfresh (Hamilton), and A&P (the rest of Ontario).
- 1998: Sobeys purchases the Oshawa Group and its IGA franchises which ultimately become Sobeys, Price Chopper, and later FreshCo stores.
- 2000: Knob Hill Farms abruptly announces that all its stores will close.
- 2005: Metro purchases A&P Canada and rebrands all A&P and Dominion stores under its own name starting in 2008.
- 2000s: Loblaws begins converting its Red & White franchises to its existing Valu-Mart banner.
- Early 2010s: Sobeys begins rebranding its Price Chopper stores as FreshCo, a brand it will eventually use in many other parts of Canada.
Links and Sources:
- Historicist: From a Grand Union to a Miracle
- Historicist: Mainly Because of the Meat and More
- Historicist: More Power To Your East End Food Dollar
- Vintage Toronto Ads: Another Modern, New Dominion
- Vintage Toronto Ads: Yes, We’re Opening Another Store!
- Grocerymania on flickr