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Supermartifacts / The Artifacts of Steinberg

[Steinberg logo]

The Steinberg (or Steinberg's) supermarket chain was founded in Montréal by Ida Steinberg in 1917. By mid-century, Steinberg had emerged as the leading grocer in Quebec. The company also took part in an aggressive expansion to Ontario (expedited through the acquisition of Grand Union's Canadian operations), and was among the first chains to locate stores in modern shopping centres.

In 1969 Steinberg converted the bulk of its Ontario stores to a discount format and rebranded them as Miracle Food Mart, while maintaining the Steinberg brand in Quebec. Regardless of which name it did business as, Steinberg had a reputation for innovation and expressive store architecture, and maintained it well into the 1970s.

Steinberg began to falter competitively in the 1980s, and its operations began to succumb to infighting among Steinberg family shareholders over business decisions. In 1990 the Miracle Food Mart division in Ontario was sold to A&P, who converted most of the stores to their own banner (and later still, Food Basics). The rest of the company was dismantled over the next two years, with Metro and Provigo taking over most Quebec locations in 1992. So endeth the tale of Steinberg.

Unless noted otherwise, all photos on these pages were taken by Andrew Turnbull.


Pre-Steinberg

Before Steinberg expanded into the interior of Ontario in 1959, a base of stores existed built by a preceding firm: Carroll's, based in Hamilton. Carroll's was acquired by Grand Union of New Jersey in 1953, with a brief period of co-branding following. Steinberg bought Grand Union's Canadian operations in 1959.

[Carroll's store]

754 Dundas St., London, ON
2017

Carroll's expanded from Hamilton to London, Ontario by 1935, and this building housed one of the four stores that represented its early presence in the city. None survived the 1940s, and Carroll's withdrew from the city until re-entering under Grand Union several years later.

[Grand Union/Steinberg store]

1080 Adelaide St. N., London, ON
2017

Opened as Carroll's-Grand Union circa 1955; converted to Steinberg in 1959 and Miracle Food Mart in 1969. Divested to the Oshawa Group in the 1980s, and later Price Chopper and Fresh Co. Expanded and remodelled severely.

[Grand Union/Steinberg store]

274 Highland Rd. W., Kitchener, ON
2019

Opened as Carroll's-Grand Union circa 1955; converted to Steinberg in 1959. Steinberg then withdrew from Waterloo-Kitchener by 1965, divesting its stores to the Oshawa Group's Dutch Boy division. This store has continued to operate in the Oshawa/Sobeys fold ever since.


Steinberg and Miracle Food Mart

[Steinberg store]

351 Margaret Ave., Kitchener, ON
2019

Opened as Steinberg circa 1960; however, it converted to Dutch Boy by 1965 and remained Dutch Boy through the 1990s. Dutch Boy may have also "blandified" the exterior of this store during its period of operation; Steinberg stores usually looked more exciting than this.

[Steinberg store] [Steinberg store] [Steinberg store]

301 Oxford St. W., London, ON
2018, 2019

The Westown Shopping Plaza in London featured Steinberg's as an anchor when it opened in 1960. Successors to Steinberg (Miracle Food Mart, A&P, and Metro) have operated in the mall ever since. However, the present store is not the original store: A brand-new building was constructed for Miracle Food Mart when the plaza was enclosed in the 1970s or 1980s. The original store was subsumed into the mall's interior, and featured a zigzag roofline that is still visible in the central court.

[Miracle Food Mart store]

1299 Oxford St. E., London, ON
2018

Opened as Miracle Food Mart in the early 1970s; later A&P and Food Basics. This is a mall store with access only from the interior corridor. Note the unusual concrete exterior detailing, which is evocative of the brutalist aesthetic of the era.

[Miracle Food Mart store]

1375 London Rd., Sarnia, ON
2018

Opened as Miracle Food Mart in the early 1970s; later A&P, A&P Super Fresh, and Metro. I'm unsure how much of the facade is original: The box-like backing for the sign probably isn't, but the arches might be.

[Miracle Food Mart store]

1491 Ernest Ave., London, ON
2018

Opened as Miracle Food Mart circa 1980. Note the concrete wedges underneath the windows, similar in theme to the detailing of the Oxford St. store.

[Miracle Food Mart store]

509 Commissioner's Rd. W., London, ON
2018

This was the last new Miracle Food Mart location to open in London, hailing from the latter half of the 1980s. It features a stairstep facade and an unusual octagonal floorplan, reflecting both the site constraints and Steinberg's penchant for out-of-the-ordinary stores.


[Steinberg mug]

And now for something entirely different! Here's a coffee mug I happen to have, commemmorating Steinberg's 70th anniversary in 1987. The company wouldn't survive beyond its 75th.







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Last update 14 July 2019.