Nepean (suburban Ottawa), Ontario, Canada
My first impression of Bayshore Centre when I visited in 2008 was that once would be enough. The store selection seemed limited: the middle end of the same stores seen in every Canadian mall. The shopping environment seemed drab and dated: decades-old décor. Plus, the challenge of figuring out which ramp to use when exiting Highway 417 west—trumped by figuring out which exit would lead me back to the highway—exceeded the reward for the effort.
In other words, I had no intention of making a return visit.
Several years later, sufficiently bored on a day trip to Ottawa, not in the mood to fight the construction in the Rideau Centre and lacking interest in going to the St. Laurent Centre, Bayshore got a second look.
And Bayshore was ready for me.
In anticipation of an arrival of Target in 2015, which ultimately never happened, the mall completely remodeled and upscaled itself. Décor went from drab and dated to sleek, open, and contemporary. Clear railings with metal accents and bright white flooring gave the mall a feeling of openness.
The fast fashion trio—Forever 21, H&M, and Zara—led a slightly more fashion-forward mix of stores. Among the many new store was an Apple store, a Brown’s shoes, Birk’s jewelers and Tommy Gunn’s, an updated version of the traditional barber shop.
The Bay transformed itself into a Hudson’s Bay and, representative of changes throughout the chain, presented a more enticing mix of merchandise in a more inviting environment.
The mall reworked all of its parking. Because the mall sits on a fully built site in the midst of an older suburb, the mall relies on multi-level ramps for parking. Although this adds a little complexity to finding a space, the benefit is that no space is more than a 5-minute walk to a mall entrance. The mall entrances, too, were remodeled, ensuring shoppers get a great first impression.
Perhaps the greatest magic of the remodeling was the remodeling of the food court. Moved from a cramped area on the third floor of the store with insufficient seating, the food court moved to the end of one wing on the second, where it offers an open dining experience with enough tables for everyone who needs one, a great selection of dining options, and a huge picture window that brings in plenty of light. The new food court also features livery service—that is, the use of reusable china plates, glasses, and real silverware rather than disposable plastic. One of my favorite features of the new food court is a series of long tables in the center with higher chairs, and a large number of outlets, so if one wants to linger in the mall and work a bit, one can. Free internet makes working in the mall all the more convenient.
Although the mall remodeled for a Target that never opened (the Target was one of the last one scheduled to open when the company pulled the plug on its Canadian operation), a Walmart has filled the space, delaying an opening by a bout a year.
Perhaps the only complaint about the renovation is the still-confusing entrance and exit to the mall (at least, they’re still confusing to me). That’s an infrastructure issue that requires an investment by the city and beyond the scope of work that the mall could include in its renovation.
And it’s not a biggie. The latest incarnation of Bayshore Centre is now on our go-to mall list for Ottawa.
Mall at a Glance
Anchors: Hudson’s Bay, Walmart.
National chains: Aeropostale, Aldo, American Eagle, Apple, Aritizia Banana Republic, Ben Moss, Body Shop, Bombay, Cole’s bookstore, Danier, Desiqual, Ecco, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Gap, Gateway News, H&M, HMV, Roots, Miss Tiggly Wiggly’s, Winners
Variety of merchandise: Very good. Strongest in fashion and accessories, with good coverage in jewelry, computer-based electronics (computers, mobile phones, tablets and accessories), soft home goods, and culture entertainment (broadly defined to include books, music, and toys).
Prices are middle to upper-middle range.
Special notes: Carefully watch signage when exiting Highway 417 west to enter the mall (one lane is a dedicated entrance to the mall).
Also carefully watch signage when exiting the mall.
Food court: A big, spacious, sunny environment with nice touches of style—real china, glasses, and silverware, and comfort—plenty of tables, and plenty of electrical outlets for recharging your batteries (literally). Choices include Cultures (healthy), Grillades Torino (Mediterranean, one of their first places outside Quebec), Jimmy the Greek, KFC, Shanghai 360, and Tim Horton’s (which always seens to have the longest line). Snack on a Cinnabon, cool off with a Pinkberry yogurt, or sip a Starbuck’s elsewhere in the mall. For table-service dining, try long-time mall tenant, Moxies.
Wikipedia page (English only): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bayshore_Shopping_Centre
Website: English: https://www.bayshoreshoppingcentre.com/en/