Prepare to be Wowed by the New Rideau Centre Expansion

Yesterday, Fairview Cadillac opened the doors to the new Rideau Centre expansion for a media sneak peak, and it was quite the party. Blue cocktails, delicious finger-food and the people who made it all happen filled the four-level expansion with excitement for the future of the mall. Their official opening to the public happened today at 11 a.m., and there was no shortage of excitement there either while hundreds of people filing in to check out the new stores.


Ottawa has been going through some major changes, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the Rideau Centre. The shopping mall has been at the core of the city for the last 30 years, but has only recently been built up to fit its position in the nation’s capital.

Phase three of the three-year, $360 million expansion came to a glittering finale yesterday as Fairview Cadillac, the company that bought the Rideau Centre five years ago, invited members of the media to explore the massive expansion. The four-level oval-shaped addition has been under construction for the past three years, and stands where the old parking lot used to be, on the corner of Rideau Street to Nicholas. Over twenty new stores have been added to the shopping centre, many of which are new to Ottawa.

B+H was the architectural firm of record and implemented the main design for the expansion. Stephane Raymond, an architect involved in the design said that the expansion was meant to create new connections with the city, especially through its exterior. Raymond added that the addition of Ogilvie Square on the corner of Rideau and Nicholas was meant to strengthen the relationships between University of Ottawa, the Rideau Centre and the Byward Market, creating the space for pedestrians to easily explore the city.

The new design was created in an effort to “re-institute the vibrancy of Rideau Street” according to Wayne Barwise, EVP of Development for Cadillac Fairview. But the new design goes beyond simply building a larger retail space. Instead, Mr. Barwise said that they looked at not only how they would reactivate Rideau Street, but also how to inspire public art. The result: a 11,00 square-foot artwork by Catherine Widgery that faces Nicholas Street and Rideau Street and is now one of the largest outdoor art installations in Canada.

Anthropologie is something to get excited about.
Anthropologie is something to get excited about.

The stores in the new expansion are varied, and much wanted breath of fresh air to the downtown area. Finally, the Rideau Centre has an H&M, which of the two levels, the bottom opens right up onto Rideau street. There’s also the much anticipated Anthropologie, to many young women’s delight. The Disney Store was bursting with colour and all the classic characters, and even features a customized skyline mixing iconic Ottawa locations with popular Disney characters; it’s also likely the only place where you can see Elsa and Anna skating on the Rideau Canal.

Across the hall there is a delicious Canadian candy store called Squish has made its way to Ottawa from Montreal. They specialize in gourmet gummy candy; they have fat free, gluten free, vegan, and all the good things gummies don’t traditionally offer. All of their gelatin is sourced from Bavaria and they use fresh fruit juices and even fruit pieces to flavor their gourmet delights.

Somehow the neon sign made the Frank + Oak staff look even hipper than they are.

The hip Canadian men’s brand Frank + Oak shined with it’s neon signs and its partnership with Ottawa’s own barber sensation House of Barons, with three barber chairs in the back of the store. Modelled as an “all-in-one” shopping destination, where guys can treat themselves to a new hairstyle while shopping Frank + Oak’s classy menswear.

But what really stole the show was the new Simons and the Simons family for that matter. The two level department store on the third and fourth level hovers above Ogilvie Square and Rideau Street. The company has been in the Simons family for five generations; originally starting in Québec in 1840. But the current president Peter Simons made it clear that although the company is expanding, they’re still dedicated to the values that have kept them going for 176 years.

The escalators up to the second floor in Simons.
The escalators up to the second floor in Simons.

“I think we’ll see just how we integrate into a community, how we see our responsibility in a city and a society, and how we recruit; we find people who share our values, and I’m hoping it will make a different experience, just in terms of service,” Simons told Ottawa Life. “Beautiful stores and architecture are important, but nothing beats the human connections that happen in that space, that’s going to be it’s soul.”

The store itself was a beautiful piece of architecture, dotted with smiling and friendly staff that greeted you at every 10 steps; they were happy to lend a hand or tell you about their favourite pieces in the store. Visual-nerds will enjoy the art hanging from the second floor ceiling, or the many unique mannequins with LCD screens in place of eyes that show off the exciting fashions Simons has to offer.

Obviously the new expansion was popular today, as hundreds of people rushed the new wing of the mall during its official grand opening. With all it has to offer, it’s hard to see how the new Rideau Centre won’t be bringing in droves of excited shoppers from all over the country.

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This story was the joint effort of Isabel Payne and Alex Mazur.