Simpson’s Halifax

The story of a Canadian retail giant in Atlantic Canada.

The Mumford Road area of Halifax is one of the busiest shopping districts in the province. It is difficult to imagine a time when this area was considered the outskirts of town, and a lone building was surrounded by nothing but fields, trees, and an airport. This lone building was the brand-new Simpson’s mail-order service centre, which shipped its products throughout the Maritimes. The Robert Simpson Company first opened in Ontario in 1894 and grew into a Canadian retail giant under the name "Simpson’s." Simpson’s of Halifax opened in 1919 only a year and a half after the devastating Halifax explosion. This mail-order centre expanded into the largest retail department store in Atlantic Canada, rivaled only by Eaton’s, which opened in 1962. The department store served Halifax for decades, first as Simpson's and then as Sears.

In 1924, Simpson’s of Halifax renovated to include a small retail store, which allowed customers to browse the wide selection of goods that the company offered via mail order. In order to make shopping easier for Haligonians, in 1930 a tram line was extended to Halifax's West End with Simpson's as its destination. To combat the widespread drop in sales during the years of the Great Depression, Simpson’s stores nationwide hosted celebrity events and even an annual carol sing at Christmas time. In 1940, the retail section of Simpson’s was expanded to include far bigger displays and customer shopping areas. Though Halifax was at war in 1942, Simpson’s, along with another local retailer called Wood’s, still found the time to host a fashion show that boasted all the latest trends. In 1963, the Simpson's store was renovated to meet the demands of the growing suburbs in Halifax's West End. The renovations included a vast increase in retail space as well as a Mumford-level entrance. At its grand re-opening, Simpson’s Halifax employed roughly 600 people in the retail departments and 2000 people in the mail-order service, which operated out of the new building and included cafeterias and its own infirmary for staff. Simpson's was also one of the first retail buildings in Atlantic Canada to feature escalators.

In 1952, The Robert Simpson Company became an affiliate of Sears Roebuck, a well-known American retailer, and the business renamed Simpsons-Sears. In 1978, the Robert Simpson Company was acquired by the Hudson’s Bay Company, and the Mumford Road department store was taken over by Sears Canada. Sears would continue to operate at this location until 2000 when it moved to the vacated Eaton’s space in the Halifax Shopping Centre. In 2018, Sears closed its doors permanently, ending the 99-year reign of department stores in Halifax's West End.



6960 Mumford Rd, Halifax, Nova Scotia