When they were first introduced to Winnipeg, parkades – a local term that no one else in the world seems to use, by the way – they were big news.
The Bay parkade was the first, in 1954. I was a kid in the late 60s, and I remember thinking it was so cool when my mom used to leave my brother and I in the little waiting area where you exited the store on each level into the parkade while she went to get the car. Going down the stairs in the southeast corner to make our way over to the Winnipeg Clinic for doctor’s appointments was a whole lot cooler than it is these days, too!
A couple of years later, Eaton’s followed suit.
But the so-called “Parkmaster” parkade was the one with the envelope-pushing concept. It was situated where the current, more modern parkade sits on Smith St. across from The Marlborough Hotel, and was demolished after just 10 years.
What made this one unique? According to a story by Christian Cassidy in the Winnipeg Free Press, “The Parkmaster was fully automated. Customers drove into one of six ‘entry aisles’ on Smith Street, locked their car and took a ticket from the attendant. Then, from an elevated perch similar to a lifeguard’s chair inside the structure, a ‘parkmaster’ used his control panel to guide the car through a series of conveyors, elevators and turntables to an empty cubicle upstairs.”
(All photos: Winnipeg Tribune archives)
Read the history of Winnipeg’s first parkades HERE.