August 12, 2014
One of Canada's last independently-owned department stores closed on Sunday. The iconic Kingsmill's department store in downtown London, Ontario, operated for over 148 years.
Founded in 1865 as a dry goods store, Kingsmill's continuously operated in downtown London. It was one of the few remaining independent, family-owned and operated department stores in Canada, and after several renovations and expansions, occupied more than 73,000 square feet over five separate floors.
The store had an interesting history. In 1865, Thomas Frazer Kingsmill, an Irish immigrant, opened a dry goods store on Dundas Street in London, Ontario. The first store was 1,800 square feet. The store has burned down and been rebuilt twice during its 148-year history. The current building, built in 1932, features the original tin-plated ceilings and hardwood floors. The original pneumatic tube system is still used to send paperwork and change throughout the store, and the old-style elevator, complete with operator, continues to help customers get from floor to floor. These features have survived over the years due to a conscious effort to maintain the character and elegance of the building.
Kingsmill's offered a wide range of merchandise categories including home furnishings, fine china and collectibles, women's, men's and children's fashions, cosmetics, linens, gifts, kitchenware and luggage, among others.