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The Eaton Centre may fall in and out of fashion, but it has always enjoyed top tier status in the pantheon of Hogtown iconography for good reason. While the last decade or so may not have been so kind – last summer’s Food Court shooting being a particularly barmy blight – there once was a time when the Centre was at the shining centre of Toronto’s eyes wide open consumer optimism.

“Life in the City (Starts at the Centre)” was an inaugural song comissioned to celebrate the opening of Centre in 1977. Written by jingle master Terry Bush, the genius behind the infinitely indelible theme song for The Littlest Hobo and a million other jingles, “Life in the City” was even performed live on opening night at the Eaton Centre by Bush, as the event was breathlessly reported by all of Canada’s major media outlets.

Here’s a snippet from the early 80s TV commercials which ran under the “Life in the City” umbrella:

From the late 1970s until the early 1990s, Eaton Centre TV commercials dominated local channels, whether it was Citytv, CFTO or even independent Buffalo stations like WUTV 29. They celebrated the food, the clothes and the glass covered galleria itself. There was a tremendous pride in the Eaton Centre.

If you fondly recall Stitches, or Simpsons, or the old Mr. Green Jeans, or the Cineplex Odeon theatre with tiny screens and paper walls, some of these retro TV spots will probably stoke a warm nostalgic glow in your heart:

That’s SCTV alum Tony Rosato in the last spot, unable to pick just one delicious dish circa 1986.

Of course, with the advent of online shopping and the fickle nature of brick and mortar retail, it ain’t what it used to be. Is anything? But the dizzy heights and good times of flashy unfettered ’80s consumerism are captured here, like Dinosaur DNA frozen in amber, for future generations to ponder.

Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at www.retrontario.com.