Photo Tour: The Toronto PATH & Financial District Holiday Decoration Walk 2020

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This holiday season has been a change for most of us, to say the least, but one constant has been the dedication to a traditional showing of holiday decorations in Toronto’s Financial District. When we asked our readers, writers, and social media community what they’d like to see during our traditionally quiet period over the holidays, the overwhelming response was to show what most of us can’t see: malls and retail.

We’re going to be adding more as we find them, so feel free to tag us on Instagram if you’d like us to share what you & your company have done over the 2020 holiday period.

Here’s a Photo Tour of The PATH, and other holiday sightings in Toronto’s downtown core.

Brookfield Place – Brookfield Properties

The holiday decor previously found in Brookfield Place has a full backstory, with Frost, Flurry and Gust (designed by Studio F Minus) being represented in an amazing display of light. In 2020 however, the team at Brookfield wanted to bring the various elements of the building to light without attracting too much walkthrough traffic.

Still present is the tree that brings life to Sam Pollock Square. The Allen Lambert Galleria is adorned with breathtaking string lights and Gust is still present in areas around the Bay Wellington tower.

Brookfield Place Holiday (Dec 22, 2020) – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Commerce Court – QuadReal Property Group

Our next stop is travelling north from Brookfield Place into Commerce Court. Usually, this corridor is packed with thousands of people from the surrounding office towers heading for lunch or getting a little bit of last-minute shopping before the holidays. Instead, today, as you can see, the halls are quiet.

Commerce Court – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Scotia Plaza – Bentall Kennedy

We’ve seen dozens of businesses in The PATH close since the beginning of the pandemic back in March 2020. This Second Cup location in Scotia Plaza recently closed, but the mall management still decided to decorate with the same strategy as the rest of the concourse. Notice the blue arrow on the ground.

Former Second Cup Location in Scotia Plaza (Dec 2020 @ 1135a) – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

With Hudson’s Bay closed during the lockdown, the PATH doesn’t connect to the CF Toronto Eaton Centre underground, so we took this opportunity to walk outside and see the decorations outside Scotia Plaza on Adelaide.

Scotia Plaza Entrance (Dec 22, 2020 @ 1135a) – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

This photo was important to share, as it shows a moment in time when social distancing markers are on benches and no outdoor skating rink. A large pine tree and lights in the small trees are the only noticeable decorations.

Arnell Plaza @ Bay Adelaide Centre (Dec 22, 2020 @ 1135a) – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Hudson’s Bay Queen Street

One of the only Hudson’s Bay stores in Canada to do a window display in 2020, the Queen Street location has taken the opportunity to keep with tradition while also playing into the current pandemic. Each of the toy soldiers that protect the windows are adorned with face masks and signage that reminds folks to social distance.

Hudson’s Bay and the adjacent Saks Fifth Avenue and Saks Food Hall by Pusateri’s are shut until at least January 23, 2021 due to provincial lockdowns. It’s uncertain when the food hall will reopen as it is reliant on office and commuter foot traffic.

CF Toronto Eaton Centre – Cadillac Fairview

Stopping into CF Toronto Eaton Centre, we get our first view of a mall in true lockdown. The only stores open are ‘essential retail’ and to even get past security you have to tell them why you’re there and what store you’re visiting.

Flight Stop at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Dec 22, 2020 @ 1140a) – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

That being said, we had to share the photo of Flight Stop, as it was this was the scene of an infamous lawsuit in 1981 Michael Snow v Eaton Centre LTD. If you notice, there are no red scarves on the geese.

From the Eaton Centre, we walk south to the PATH entrance outside of City Hall.

Toronto City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Richmond-Adelaide Centre – Oxford Properties

After walking through the Sheraton Centre, we arrive into another spot on our Holiday decoration tour at Richmond Adelaide Centre. The uniform trees bring a nice distraction from the number of retailers that have closed temporarily or permanently.

Exchange Tower – Brookfield Properties

One of the highlights of any tour is a food court, and the one at 130 King Street W is great. You’d know that address because it was the first home to the innovation cafe by Tim Hortons, which brings the elements of your community store with food & drink that would appeal to a busy financial district (pre-pandemic, of course).

Exchange Tower Food Court – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

After the food court, we next start our final home stretch to First Canadian Place.

First Canadian Place – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

First Canadian Place – Brookfield Properties

In the past, the green & red colour palette would contrast beautifully with the white marble interior of the building, but 2020 has a different feeling altogether. Seeing a tree in front of the BMO offices just makes the space feel cavernous, especially with the lack of people and the abundance of mall employees.

First Canadian Place with a Closed UNIQLO Pop-up – Photo by Dustin Fuhs
First Canadian Place Christmas Tree – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

Toronto-Dominon Centre – Cadillac Fairview

We end the PATH Holiday decoration tour with a stop at the Toronto Dominion Centre. With the CN Tower in the background and The Pasture art installation (the cows) on the left, lots of potential for future tours.

TD Centre with CN Tower – Photo by Dustin Fuhs

If you liked this one, please share this on social media and we’ll be sure to do more. Below are more photos of the PATH during December 2020.

Article Author

Dustin Fuhs
Dustin Fuhs
Dustin Fuhs is the Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider, Canada's most read retail trade publication. He has over 20 years experience in the retail, marketing, entertainment and hospitality industries. He has worked with Retail Insider since October 2020 in a number of roles, including associate publisher of the Retail Insider magazine. Dustin was named as Editor-in-Chief of Retail Insider in 2022. Dustin was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.

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  1. Thank you Mr. Fuhs. Pictures were stunning and raised my spirits up. I worked in several of those buildings many years ago and it was a pleasure to see them lit up for Christmas. But of course it also sad not to see any people there because of COVID. Those buildings contain tens of thousands of people and during the day it is literally buzzing. Again, thank yo

  2. Great work on the photography….it took me back nearly 20 years (April 2000) to a point I was a visitor to Canada and I wandered around these various public spaces to gain an appreciation of retailing along the internal/pedestrian thoroughfares. Much has changed, indeed, over this time and this change will accelerate over the next 3-6 months. It will be good to have a record of good times in DT TO, although, there have been better times of the hustle and bustle of thousands of people going about their daily routines!


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