Some romances begin when two people lock eyes from across a crowded room, but Ruth Schroeder met her partner of 75 years in a revolving door at The Bay in downtown Winnipeg.
In 1942, Schroeder and her sister were walking into The Bay to do some shopping as her future husband John was walking out, through a revolving a door.
“[My sister] waved him because she knew him from before,” Schroeder said. “He came back in and we were introduced.”
The two were wed in 1945 and moved to the Charleswood area. The couple bounced around several times before settling down just over 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg in the town of Morris, where they ran a greenhouse and still reside.
Many people, including Schroeder, are thinking back to their memories of the iconic Bay building in downtown Winnipeg, after the company announced this week it was closing for good.
Opening its doors in 1926, The Bay was built to meet the demands of the time, encompassing 655,755 square feet over six storeys. But in November 2019, the building was appraised at $0, and the costs to bring it up to code were around $111 million.
The Hudson’s Bay Co. had planned to close the building down in February 2021, but new COVID-19 restrictions in Manitoba have forced the building to close sooner.
Schroeder hasn’t shopped at the downtown location “for years and years,” but the news of building shutting down still saddened her, she said.
“It has been there for so many years, and it was sort of this historic building. But I can understand it,” said Schroeder, who worked in various departments at the store when she first moved to Winnipeg.
Back when Schroeder had her fateful encounter, circa 1942, The Bay “was a nice big store.”
“A week before Christmas, they would open the doors about a half-hour before the usual hour, and you could go inside and listen to their choir,” she said, referring to the store’s in-house choir that would sing near the steps that led to a loft.
“We really enjoyed that.”
Today, Schroeder, 99, lives in an apartment in a seniors residence that is about two blocks from the personal care home where her 102-year-old husband lives.