Couple who met at The Bay in early ’40s among those remembering iconic Winnipeg store

The Bay downtown may have closed its doors, but memories of the 94-year-old Winnipeg landmark remain, including for a couple who met at the iconic department store and have since been married for 75 years.

Ruth Schroeder, 99, told 680 CJOB she met the man who would become her husband — John, now 102 years old — by chance in the early 1940s.

“He was coming out of The Bay and my sister and I, we were going in,” said Schroeder.

“My sister knew him, but I didn’t know him at that time, so he came back in and we were introduced.”

Although the couple, who were married in 1945, moved away from the city, Schroeder said she still has fond memories of the Portage Avenue landmark.

Read more: Bay closure heads up changing future of Winnipeg’s downtown

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“While we still lived in Winnipeg, I used to like going to The Bay, especially before Christmas,” she said, “when they used to have carolers.

“They would open the doors about half an hour early, and then inside on the main floor, there was a loft with stairs. On the stairs, the singers would stand there and they’d sing Christmas carols, and we could stand and listen to them for about a half-hour before the regular store hours.”

Ruth and John Schroeder, who got married in 1945 after initially meeting each other at The Bay in downtown Winnipeg.
Ruth and John Schroeder, who got married in 1945 after initially meeting each other at The Bay in downtown Winnipeg. Submitted / Ruth Schroeder

After years of decline — including the closure of many of the iconic building’s floors — the company pulled the plug on its downtown store earlier this week — shutting down months before its initial announcement of a February 2021 closure.

Read more: Downtown Winnipeg’s iconic Hudson’s Bay store closed for good as of Monday, company says

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The Hudson’s Bay Company first opened the downtown Winnipeg store to shoppers in 1926 and the building received a heritage designation from the city in 2019.

On Monday, a spokesperson for the company said they remain open to working with the city and partners to find opportunities for the building.

“The historic building has been a landmark in Winnipeg for generations,” said Tiffany Bourré.

“We remain committed to working with partners to find opportunities for this location that will have a positive impact on the community.”

Click to play video 'Winnipeg’s downtown stakeholders see promising signs, despite loss of iconic Hudson’s Bay store' Winnipeg’s downtown stakeholders see promising signs, despite loss of iconic Hudson’s Bay store

Winnipeg’s downtown stakeholders see promising signs, despite loss of iconic Hudson’s Bay store

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