The Bay Downtown Winnipeg

Fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera wears a Privacy Please dress and vintage belt at The Bay Downtown WinnipegVintage facade of the Bay Downtown Winnipeg, captured by Canadian travel blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & VeraPortrait of style blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera wearing a Privacy Please dress and Anine Bing Paris sunglassesOutfit details on fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera, including a Sezane straw tote and Jonak mulesSummer outfit shown by fashion blogger Cee Fardoe of Coco & Vera, featuring a black Privacy Please midi dress and Sezane straw totePrivacy Please dress (c/o REVOLVE)
Jonak flats (similar)
Sezane bag (similar)
Vintage belt (similar)
Anine Bing sunglasses
Keltie Leanne Designs ring (c/o)
& Other Stories earrings

It’s amazing the role certain places play in our lives without us fully realising it. Since we came back to Manitoba, I have been reunited with so many of the settings for my most vivid memories. Among those settings is the Bay Downtown Winnipeg. Built in the 1920s, the building is a breathtaking example of golden age architecture. That said, however, it has long since seen its best days.

My dad worked as a regional sales manager at the Bay when I was born. Naturally, we shopped in the store often. I remember being warned that if I broke anything, my parents would have to buy it – so, of course, I got nervous and did actually break something once. I also once absconded on a bicycle in the sporting goods department when I was about four, and Dad had to chase me through the aisles!

Years later, after Dad moved on to a career in banking, I got my first job at the Bay Downtown. I started work as a fragrance salesgirl just weeks after I graduated from high school. By then, the store had begun its perhaps inevitable decline. The maintenance team slowly blocked off sections of certain floors where financial constraints made required repairs impossible. But we had fun at work. We rarely saw customers, so we had lots of time to chat and get to know our co-workers. Ian and I met at the store the same year I started working there, while I filled in for a co-worker at a small cologne counter in the men’s department. Years later, we posed for our engagement pictures in front of the store. And, a decade later, we’re back again.

Much has changed in the intervening years. It’s rare that people shop in downtown Winnipeg now. These days, most of the store hides behind hastily erected sheets of drywall. In the seven storey building, customers can access only two floors. My beloved fragrance counter is gone, replaced by what appears to be an attempt at a small scale ladieswear department. The paint is peeling. Bannisters on the stairs are loose. And the escalators, which were never quick in my lifetime, barely chug up and down. It’s a sad state of affairs for a building so full of history, and so full of memories for me.

For years, there has been a debate about the fate of the Bay Downtown. Right now, no one knows what will happen to the building, or what is left of the store in it. And so, while it lasts, we intend to take full advantage of its beautiful facade for outfit photos.

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  1. It seems so sad to me to think that such a beautiful place for shopping would die. How could no one step in and renovate it? With the right stores and the right vision, couldn’t it be beautiful again? Of course when it comes to my hometown, I always feel fiercely against change and get upset when I find out they are tearing down anything from an old building to even an old tree.

    Also I LOVE the shape of this dress on you – the scoop neck, the flare, even the length which you manage to make work with flats (and you think you can’t wear flats) it all works so perfectly.
    Chic on the Cheap

  2. The Bay building in downtown Edmonton is also one of the grandest and most elegant in the city, constructed during the store’s golden age. It was also fairly run down and in need of repairs by the mid-1990s and, fortunately, the U of A wound up purchasing it and making the necessary restorations, and now it houses the Faculty of Extension and some administrative offices.

    Courtney ~ Sartorial Sidelines

  3. So many memories in one place, its sad to see these structures disappear. Where i live its an every day thing. I had to watch my 1940’a childhood home as it was being torn down, it was extremely painful.
    You’re looking fab in that dress, the fit is just perfect.

  4. Cee, loved reading your story. Department stores everywhere (at least here in the US) are on a decline. People are just not going anymore (terrorism, crime, online shopping). Sorry it has affected a store of which you have so many amazing memories. It’s sad to see. I LOVE your outfit! It’s so chic and I love your glasses. Very nice pairing.

  5. So true about so many Bays and other once institution-like downtown stores across Canada, really. Would love to hear about your new favourite spots to shop in Winnipeg, as you get back into that environment!

  6. Firstly, LOVE this outfit!! And excited to see Winnipeg through your eyes. I’ve never been but I’ve heard such great things and the city is definitely growing & evolving, but how sad, that The Bay is so unloved and slowly fading away! Hopefully one day it’ll be restored to its full glory! Thinking of you and wishing all the best as you get settled in your new home!!! ❤

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